The American Architectural Manufacturers
Association Commemorates 75 Years
The American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA)
is celebrating its 75th anniversary at its upcoming annual conference
(see “AAMA’s Diamond Jubilee,” at the end of this page). Rich Walker,
president and CEO of AAMA, talked with USGlass about how the association
has changed over 75 years and how it continues to work to change the industry.
USG: Can you describe how AAMA and its mission have evolved since its
RW: Since 1936, AAMA has stood as
a strong advocate for manufacturers and professionals in the fenestration
industry, dedicated to the promotion of quality window, door, curtainwall,
storefront and skylight products. This mission has been validated several
times over the years by the board of director’s strategic planning committee.
New frame materials and market growth are the basis for the evolution
of AAMA over the past 75 years.
USG: How has AAMA helped change the glass and fenestration industry
in 75 years?
RW: It’s developed and updated performance specifications and test
methods referenced in many national and state building codes, leading
to higher performing products and a level playing field, and making it
more difficult for substandard products and imports to compete in the
AAMA’s promoted the acceptance of new materials, technologies and products—vinyl,
fiberglass, insulating glass. This translated into improvements in energy
efficiency, window safety and durability.
It’s provided support at the International Code Council and its regional
precursor code organizations, ensuring that the regulatory environment
did not discriminate against a material nor favor other energy saving
building products at the expense of windows.
AAMA also continuously monitors and reports on national and state legislative
and regulatory developments. It ensures that the collective voice of the
fenestration industry is heard in the most influential regulatory arenas,
committees and agencies (Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Management
and Budget, and Ways and Means Committee).
AAMA began offering the original third-party product certification program
over 40 years ago to provide manufacturers with the means to independently
demonstrate product performance to their customers via the AAMA Certification
During the upcoming Annual Conference, AAMA is finalizing its Green Product
Certification Program—further evidence of our commitment to meeting today’s
Finally, AAMA’s provided statistical reports and AIA learning unit courses
that equip customers, code officials and architects to make informed decisions
about product performance and application.
USG: How does glass factor into AAMA’s work?
RW: Glass is an extremely important
component of the majority of fenestration products. AAMA’s Glass Material
Council works to provide technical, regulatory, legislative, marketing
and certification support to AAMA membership ensuring appropriate standards
are established and maintained.
The Council provides a vital communication link with other glass trade
associations. Most recently, AAMA has partnered with both the Insulating
Glass Manufacturers Alliance and the Glass Association of North America
to support important code revisions and conduct important glass dependent
research (i.e. thermal stress and gas permeability).
USG: How does AAMA resolve tensions among building product groups—specifically
wood, vinyl and aluminum windows?
RW: As a longstanding material-neutral
organization, AAMA promotes the benefits of all materials used to build
windows, doors and skylights. The key to peaceful co-existence is the
emphasis on and recognition of the vast majority of issues that all members
agree upon. In addition, there are procedural safeguards and equal representation
in key groups that prevent stacking the deck by a particular group of
members. A super majority voting procedure is an example. Our marketing
policies require positive product promotion only—undermining competing
materials is not permitted in all AAMA activities.
AAMA suppliers also play a key role in mitigating conflict. With equal
voting privileges, AAMA supplier members often serve different material
markets and therefore have common interests in both the residential and
commercial market segments. Suppliers facilitate compromise and help forge
workable solutions on controversial code and product performance issues.
The inevitable differences arise. Representing such a vast selection of
building product groups can lead to interesting debates but, in the end,
it leads to better standards, better literature, better products and a
USG: What is one program/document/practice AAMA has put in place that
you feel everyone in the industry should know?
RW: 101/I.S. 2/A440 – NAFS [North
American Fenestration Standard/Specification for Windows, Doors, and Unit
Skylights] is performance-based and material-neutral. It’s the industry’s
USG: When AAMA is celebrating its 100th anniversary, what do you hope
the group will be working on?
RW: A number of things:
• Safety-related codes and standards, and AAMA’s members’ contributions
to protecting occupants from both natural disasters like hurricanes, tornados
and earthquakes and other safety/security hazards like bullets, bombs
and radio frequency interference.
• The diversity and depth of the industry, and AAMA’s contribution to
educating and mentoring the next generation of knowledgeable industry
• The global marketplace, and AAMA’s members’ contributions to a stronger
U.S. economy through a solid manufacturing base that supports good business
practices at home and abroad.
• The promotion of windows as appliances—functioning as large monitors
for computers and televisions or replicators of outside scenic vistas
such as beaches and mountains.
• Surfaces that adapt to the environment, and the prevalent
use of electrochromics that will regulate sunlight and provide privacy.
• Nanotechnology that enables affordable fenestration to be more energy-efficient
than the walls that surround it.
USG: Your keynote speaker will talk about “inspired leadership through
challenging times.” Can you share how some of the earlier leaders of AAMA
have impacted the organization and the industry?
RW: In 1994, AAMA reorganized to better
accommodate the materials neutral position, while at the same time allowing
isolated forums to address materials specific issues. Sigi Valentin, Georges
Thiret and Chuck Gilderman spent countless hours developing a unique structure
to maintain balance and allow AAMA to accommodate new regional and market
growth. This structure has served AAMA well, as borne out in the increases
in membership since 1994.
One of our honorary members, Lyon Evans, just passed away in early December
at the age of 93 (see page 54). He was extremely influential to AAMA’s
beginnings. Sixty-five years ago, Lyon helped form and was the key technical
member of the then “new association,” the Architectural Aluminum Manufacturers
USG: AAMA has met at some exciting destinations. What is one conference
that stands out in your memory as being particularly remarkable?
RW: Our 70th Annual Conference
at Marco Island, Fla. With many past presidents in attendance, it was
made special by the attendees rather than the venue!
AMA’s 75 Years
1936 – Began as the Non-ferrous Metal Window Institute (NFMWI).
1945 – Reorganized after World War II to become the American Window Manufacturers
1950 – AWMA merged with the Aluminum Window Institute (AWI), further unifying
the industry. Separate specifications were developed for residential and
architectural windows. These specifications served as the basis for the
product certification program.
1960 – AWMA began working with the sliding glass door and window institute
(SGD/WI). Performance specification were developed for sliding glass patio
1972 – ANSI granted accreditation to AWMA’s Certification Program. The first
third party U.S. window certification program was certified by ANSI.
1978 – The Skylights and Space Enclosures Division was formed.
1980 – AWMA absorbed Associated Certification Inc. (ACI) and formed the
Manufactured Housing Components Division.
1984 – AAMA amended its charter to bring in frame materials other than aluminum.
The Vinyl Window and Door Division was formed, and the current acronym for
AAMA’s Diamond Jubilee
AAMA is celebrating its diamond anniversary at this year’s annual conference,
taking place February 26-29 at the Naples Grande in Naples, Fla. In addition
to a full schedule of meetings, presentations and networking events, the
meeting will commemorate the 75 years that have passed since AAMA’s founding
and honor those whose leadership and contributions have brought the association
to where it is today.
Among the conference highlights is a planned keynote speech by former
Navy Seal, Rhodes Scholar, humanitarian and national champion boxer, Eric
Greitens. Greitens is also the founder of the Center for Citizen Leadership.
He addresses a broad range of subjects important to today’s companies,
including leadership and social responsibility, the next generation of
American leadership, and service and the humanitarian ethic.
Making a difference will be something of a theme at this event. During
the annual awards banquet and reception diamond jubilee, outstanding member
award winners will be recognized for their contributions to AAMA’s progress.
Later, Mary Garcia, corporate relations director of World Vision, will
present the Fourth Annual World Vision Fenestration Humanitarian Award.
The 2011 award will be given to an AAMA partner that has shown a sincere
dedication to help others, and a commitment to invest with World Vision,
to make a transformational difference across the U.S.
Of course, AAMA members will be working to make a difference through regular
committee meetings, as well.
Among other activities, the FenestrationMasters Development Task Group
will meet to discuss the progress of the FenestrationMasters training
program, including certification exam details. This initiative covers
every aspect of the fenestration industry, so all members are encouraged
to participate. The Aluminum Material Council will have a special presentation
on “New Structure and Procedure in the Qualicoat Organization/Results
of Studies and Researches.” It will focus on the different standards and
testing procedures that Qualicoat enforces for various types of environments;
standard quality specifications and tests for difficult environments such
as coastal areas; marine grade type finishes and tests; and new projects
and initiatives. The Alternative Accelerated Weathering Task Group will
hear a presentation where members can learn about and discuss unknown
variables and other phenomena. Topics will include the benefits of accelerated
weather testing, common equipment used to accelerate exposures, fluorescent
and ultraviolet lamps, science and fundamentals of accelerated weathering
and correlations between accelerated testing and actual outdoor exposure.
From the opening general session, where important conference topics and
new developments within the association and the industry will be introduced,
to the closing session, with its reports of all conference activities
within each council, members will be hard at work at developing future
resources for the industry.
For more information about the conference, and to register, visit www.aamanet.org.
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