The spring thaw came early this year for International Window Film Association (IWFA) members. In fact, the window film industry really began to heat up in February.
This year’s IWFA board meeting took place directly on the heels of the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) hearings, so resolving legislative affairs was a priority.
Given the significant resources of large construction companies and glass original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), many window film professionals were concerned that the IECC hearings would deliver a damaging blow to our sector, particularly in the residential flat glass segment. But thanks to the compelling testimony of window film experts, not only did the hearings come out largely in the favor of window film providers, but we also forged a promising new relationship with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
The NAHB is a respected and influential organization, and our healthy rapport should make it easier for window film professionals to convey our products’ value proposition to homeowners, contractors and builders.
Another boon for the window film industry is a breakthrough agreement with the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC). IWFA manufacturers now may become members of the NFRC. This critical affiliation will allow glass film makers to include the council’s rating label on products and product packaging. Previously, this labeling system was restricted to large glass companies. Labeling new windows and doors with NFRC standards helped everyone in the glass value chain earn instant credibility with customers. Now we too have the opportunity to increase consumer confidence in our products.
Driven by such positive trends, the lively meeting focused largely on ways to continue this momentum and propel flat glass window films into markets that had been previously underserved. We did not only discuss the implications of the IECC hearings. We also speculated on future legislation and shared ideas on ways to preempt future challenges to our core business.
Many meeting participants, and those with whom I have spoken subsequently, expressed enthusiasm over the Board’s commitment to the flat glass market. It seems a misperception had existed. From dealers to distributors to installers, a number of window film professionals believed that the IWFA board was solely focused on the automotive industry. This is simply not true. Certainly the automotive segment remains crucial, but architectural films – including safety and security products – are also a growth area for all IWFA members.
Of course, with regard to automotive films, we continue to discuss state-by-state tint laws on a monthly basis. We are constantly monitoring legislative amendments and conveying to members how these changes impact dealers and installers.
Tom Niziolek is president of the IWFA and sales and marketing director for Madico.