Legislation and regulatory codes continue to impact manufacturers of glazing and fenestration systems, but one industry organization has ensured that its voice is being heard in the law- and rule-making process.

Al Babiuk of Loewen addresses the WDMA meeting in Washington, D.C.
Al Babiuk of Loewen addresses the WDMA meeting in Washington, D.C.

The Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) is holding its spring meeting and legislative conference in Washington, D.C., this week. On Monday, members of its leadership gave an update on the state of the organization, which serves the commercial and residential door, window and skylight industries.

Al Babiuk of Loewen Windows, WDMA chairperson, ran through the association’s progress on its three-year strategic plan and said its advocacy program “continues to grow in its effectiveness.”

He said WDMA has three key strategic objectives: public policy advocacy, industry promotion and membership growth and value. “Our overarching goal is to be the industry’s undisputed leader,” he said.

CEO Michael O’Brien then delivered his state of the association address. He said 2015 was a record year for membership growth with 14 new companies joining the organization. O’Brien also said WDMA has a retention rate of 90 percent, which he said is outstanding considering that the average retention rate for trade associations is about 76 percent.

However, he noted that industry consolidation is impacting WDMA membership. “That is something we’re grappling with,” O’Brien said.

He also discussed the strong growth of the WDMA Hallmark Certification Program, which aims to give code officials, builders, architects and consumers an easily recognizable means of identifying products that meet WDMA and other standards.

“We’re pleased that we’ve soundly established our presence in D.C.,” O’Brien said. “We’re recognized by DOE and EPA, especially with the Energy Star program. We don’t have to be chasing the car, we’ve caught the car.”

Next, John McFee, WDMA’s vice president of certification, discussed next month’s release of the third phase of the WDMA Hallmark Certification Programs Client Information Portal (CIP), which aims to facilitate an electronic method to submit and process an application for a Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) Evaluation Report. The system, which is available to any manufacturer certifying products under the WDMA Hallmark Program, should help shorten the time it takes TDI to produce an evaluation report.

Although there is no legal requirement for a TDI Evaluation Report, McFee said they are sought by many consumers, architects, builders, retailers, code officials and approval agencies.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) speaks at the WDMA Washington Briefing Breakfast.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) speaks at the WDMA Washington Briefing Breakfast.

Tuesday, the meetings continued with the Washington Briefing Breakfast, which featured addresses by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.).

“The people who come to see me in Washington feel under assault by a government that’s gotten oppressive,” Barrasso said. “The people who write the regulations have no idea what’s going on.”

He cited the EPA’s controversial Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule as an example of a well-meaning regulation that puts an undue burden on the people who have to obey it.

“We’re now spending $2 trillion on regulatory costs,” Tipton said. “There are currently 4,000 new regulations in the pipeline. The government is coming at this from a fine-and-punish vs. help-and-improve aspect. We’re having taxation via regulation.”

Both Barrasso and Tipton touched on the EPA’s contentious “Waters of the United States” rule, which could establish whether anti-pollution laws are violated if a developer fills in part of a wetland to build a home, for example.

Tipton also said the Affordable Care Act has failed to lower healthcare costs, and he pointed out that the drive for a $15 minimum wage will hurt those it purports to help. “We’re going to see people lose their jobs” to automation and other labor-saving technologies because of higher minimum wages, he said.

All that regulation and indirect taxation is especially damaging to small businesses, Tipton said.

“For the first time, we’re seeing more small businesses shut down than start in this country,” he said. “The only resource the government has is sitting in our hip pockets right now, and that’s money generated by the private sector. Government does not create wealth, it drains wealth.”

Later, WDMA members traveled to Capitol Hill to meet with lawmakers. WDMA’s Kevin McKenney said energy legislation is one of the association’s priority issues for this year’s session of Congress. The organization wants the Senate to pass the Energy Policy Modernization Act (S. 2012) with amendments that define the Department of Energy’s role in the code and development process.