WDMA Opens Up
Down, But Not Out
by alan j. campbell
As we are now well into a new year, it is fitting that we take a few moments to contemplate what 2001 will bring to our industry.
Housing Starts Reduction
Like most segments of a slowing (but far from stagnant economy) the window and door industry looks forward to a tighter marketplace. Prognosticators suggest that we can expect about a 3 to 5 percent reduction in the number of housing starts this year. Although a reduction seems certain, it certainly does not suggest disaster, or even great concern.
The housing industry is coming off two extremely active years. Housing starts in both 1999 and 2000 showed great strength, and remember that 1997 and 1998 weren’t bad either. So, while a 3 to 5 percent reduction in 2001 certainly tightens the strings a bit, we will still be looking at a very healthy marketplace for our products. Furthermore, a very strong remodeling and rehab market most certainly will absorb some of the slack.
Another trend positively affecting our sales involves the continuing emphasis that architects place on glass usage in their designs. More openings in walls, and larger ones at that, provide window and door producers with opportunities to sell more of their products to the industry.
We at the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) feel confident that 2001 will again be a strong year for our producers.
I’d like to focus on a few other areas where our association has strengthened its position within the industry. For one thing, the WDMA has experienced a moderate, but healthy, growth in membership during the past year. This stems from two trends. First, our efforts to broaden our base through strategic planning refocused our organization, particularly through an emphasis on technical activities and building codes. So, despite a continuing trend toward mergers within the industry, we have actually enjoyed a net gain in membership.
A second strong trend has been an increase in our visibility within the industry. We continued to improve our public exposure in the trade press, thus making our industry, its products and its membership more visible to our target audiences of builders, remodelers, architects and consumers. This visibility creates a desire on their part to search out WDMA manufacturers early in the design phase, resulting in the specification of our members’ products in new homes and other buildings. It further serves to drive these audiences to our website at www.wdma.com.
Our visibility is further bolstered by a trend within code bodies to reference WDMA standards. The most significant of these is our Hallmark Certification Program, which has grown exponentially this past year. A huge increase in this program gives designers assurance that the products they specify are manufactured in accordance with WDMA standards. Not only have more companies joined the program this past year, those already participating have vastly increased the number of product lines for which they have applied for certification.
To make the program even more significant to the industry, we have now entered into an agreement with an independent third party to handle inspection and certification rather than conducting such activities inside WDMA itself. This third- party involvement is the first, and most important step, toward receiving ANSI certification. Once this has been obtained, the WDMA Hallmark Certification Program will most certainly become the standard against which virtually all manufacturers are measured. It will also significantly increase designer, builder and homeowner confidence in our products.
With all of the pieces of the puzzle falling into place, the WDMA stands poised for another excellent year.
Alan J. Campbell, CAE, serves as president of the Window and Door Manufacturers Association, based in Des Plaines, Ill.
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