Volume 40,   Issue 1                             January 2005

Dear USG

In The Spotlight
Dear USG
I would like to say thank you to Max Perilstein for his recent recognition of Lowell Rager in his October 2004 column (see page 16 of the October 2004 USGlass). It’s good to know that industry leaders like Max seek the input of legends like Lowell before they sit down to pen an article that will be read by most of our industry. 

While acknowledging that I must be a lot older than Max, I got to know Lowell in the early 1980s while attending a Libbey-Owens-Ford employee technical development program. Somehow a young kid, relatively new to the glass business, was a part of a training class with LOF’s top architectural glass specialist from across the country. While some of the participants were probably wondering what I was doing there, Lowell went out of his way to make me feel comfortable and to help me learn about our industry. Since that training program, Lowell has been a professional, a mentor, an associate, a competitor, a supplier, a resource and, most importantly, a friend throughout my career. Thanks, Lowell and Max!
Greg Carney
Technical Director
Glass Association of North America 
Gulfport, Miss.

Is Merger the Right Way to Go?
Dear USG
Since its inception in1936, AAMA has been a leading industry association that has had both the vision and courage to adapt and grow for the benefit of all members and the numerous building construction market segments represented by members. The truth is, AAMA has evolved into more than just a window trade group, far beyond what early organizers envisioned.

As a result of being progressive and growth-oriented, this association has seen solid advances with the addition of other building construction manufacturers and suppliers seeking the broad appeal and respect that comes with AAMA membership. 

Some AAMA members believe merging or consolidating with the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) is in the best interest of the association. We contend there are many, still, who do not believe this is true.

The one prevailing argument for a merger or consolidation is that the window industry needs only one voice. There is little debate that this is an ideal objective that benefits both AAMA and WDMA. However, we do not believe attaining this objective should be solely “at any costs” to the entire membership of AAMA. 

• I believe this is a point in time for AAMA to grow its membership; adding the WDMA membership would be a positive step;

• I believe this is a point in time when AAMA can continue to solicit and attract a diverse spectrum of membership; an association that can continue to support financial requirements and industry objectives;

• I believe this is a point in time when AAMA should continue to be truly representative of the “one company, one vote” by all members, both manufacturers and suppliers, to achieve a truly respected consensus-based balloting process; not governed by an elite segment of the association;

• I believe this is a point in time when we should use our financial resources to expand our technical expertise and presence with all the various code organizations with which our membership is required to interface;

• I believe this is a point in time when we should actively apply financial resolve to expand our marketing activities to promote our vast resources to the industry we serve; and

• I believe this is a point in time when we should embrace all of our existing councils and seek to expand them rather than disband some of them as a non-fit to the association.

There are many issues being discussed, debated and negotiated by “teams” representing both associations. It is both interesting and extremely concerning that no supplier representative is present from either association during these “joint team” meetings. This should be especially concerning since 60 percent of the AAMA voting membership comes from supplier members. (AAMA is comprised of 105 manufacturing members [40 percent] and 161 supplier members [60 percent]).

AAMA has always been represented by both manufacturers and suppliers in everything it does. Having no AAMA supplier representation on our “team” means no timely input and certainly no vote by a supplier representative on what is being discussed, debated and negotiated. This could have serious consequences to the supplier constituency of AAMA.

This merger or consolidation is being forced on a majority of the membership that represents more than half of the member companies without any formal input to the process. 
While there well may be some pros in support of this merger or consolidation, I believe the cons are far more critical and seem to be of such magnitude that fairly overcoming them would not be possible or, more importantly, not in the long-term best interest of our association.

Consider these points and ask why:

• The huge disparity in member’s equity. AAMA’s $3 million versus WDMA’s $370 thousand. Why would we give our checkbook to another organization?

• Reduced supplier-voting privileges. This dilutes a pure consensus-based organization and sets the stage for only the elite to have control. Will you be among the new elite?

• The proposed technical roadmap is untested. AAMA has been providing technical standards for more than 68 years. Why change a proven process?

• The Architectural Products Group (APG) becomes a smaller minority. The very core of this association came from the APG. Why would we want to see our roots diminished?

• Some material councils will be eliminated. Why would we want to make our association smaller? Why would we want to give up the income revenue these members generate?

• Combine our superior staff with a weaker staff. Our staff employees are extremely dedicated, well-trained and more importantly, AAMA-motivated. Why disrupt a well-performing, cohesive team?

• Uncertain disposition of Installa-tionMasters. At the request of association members, AAMA spearheaded this program and brought it to a self-supporting profit center that is respected for its uniqueness, appropriateness and creditability. Why divest the strong image AAMA built around one of its certification programs?

• Joint groups between AAMA and WDMA already exist. Why do we have to radically change our association to embrace another trade association that brings far less to the table? 
In closing, there is a strong sentiment among the membership that this merger or consolidation between AAMA and WDMA is self-serving to only a small group of companies and fails to embrace the real consequences that will affect AAMA’s entire membership. 

We urge voting members to consider the long-term good of our association and vote no to any merger or consolidation that interferes with the current name or voting process or internal framework that has served AAMA’s membership for the past 68 years. We welcome WDMA to our membership. We are strengthened by their presence. Changing what so many have contributed to and accomplished just to satisfy so few does not strengthen the industry, AAMA and its membership. 
Bill Thornton
President and Chief Executive Officer
Integrated Composite 
Technologies Inc.
Montezuma, Ga


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