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April  2004

From Minds to Markets
WDMA’s Annual Meeting Covers It All

by Alan B. Goldberg

The peaceful setting of the Wigwam Resort in Litchfield Park, Ariz., set the stage for the 300-plus guests who attended the winter meeting of the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) February 21-25. Presentations offered a blend of humor, anecdotes, colorful footage, sobering facts and an abundance of valuable statistics. From committee and program reports that provided updates on projects to topics as broad as building total recall and as specific as the decibel level of a door; and from issues as global as exporting to China and as regional as compliance with local building codes, the agenda was packed with useful and practical information. Following are some of the highlights.

Total Recall 
It seemed only fitting to begin the session with a speaker whose specialty is recall. 

“You can remember anything as long as it is associated with something you know,” said Bob Gray, president, Memory Edge Corp. (Gray was also the keynote speaker at the IGMA conference.)
Describing systems for sharpening memory, he said the mind is wired for images which, with color and creativity, stimulate the right side of the brain, the left being linear. Since we have a tendency to remember things at the beginning and the end, we must review them numerous times to retain information. He dispelled the myth regarding age. 

“Age has nothing to do with memory. When people say they are too old to remember, it means they don’t want to leave their comfort zone,” said Gray.

Staying On Top of an Ever-Changing World
Mark Goldstein, co-founder of the Impact Presentations Group and an internationally recognized authority in the field of aging and its impact on business, explored every generation over the span of a century. 

“Never has there been an industry so poised for the boomers as yours,” he said. “The bad news to this extraordinary growth is that there is a more than an 80-percent possibility that the building industry will miss this opportunity if history is a predictor of current possibilities.” 

Goldstein said the trends are there but the industry will have to adjust. 

“The digital revolution will have a greater impact on human life than the industrial revolution,” he said. 

Goldstein also cautioned that most re-inventions begin too late. 

“It is the realization that something that is not going right. The best time to make a change is when you are at the leading edge,” he said. 

Codes, Standards, Laws and Litigation
Mike Fisher, WDMA director of codes and regulatory compliance, reviewed procedures that states follow in adopting codes and said that they should be based on international codes. He referred to the proposed NFPA 5000 building code as "technically weak and lacking residential prescriptive provisions" and said he did not expect it to be adopted. Summarizing “Right To Cure” legislation, he said that typically it requires notice of the alleged defect be given to the builder. In addition to California, there are more than 20 states that have “Right To Cure” acts. He pointed out that WDMA is exploring legislative monitoring service on a state-to-state basis. Regarding proposed international codes, he said final action hearings will take place in May of this year with a proposed deadline of 2006. 

Fisher briefly mentioned the debate on wired glass in fire doors and the many problems associated with it. He referred to such doors as “restricted” in many educational and recreational occupancies. 

“There will be a new generation of products with laminates for use in glazed openings in fire walls and doors,” he said. 

Historic Renovation 
John Sandor, historical architect for the National Park Service, and Peter Miller, president, Restore Media, offered ways to gain acceptance in what Miller described as “a small but very robust and lucrative niche market of historic renovation.” 

Miller said buildings must be 50 years old, architecturally significant, historically accurate and require maintenance, not replacement. According to Miller, there are many things architects want from window and door manufacturers, including product authenticity, designing flexibility and an understanding of codes. He said the National Park Service approves 1,200 projects each year. Sandor emphasized the need to match the old in design and materials. 

“One detail that is often overlooked is how glass is held in place. Little attention is given to the depth and shape of muntins,” he said. 

WDMA Update
A review of the current and previous strategic plans to assess what has been accomplished was presented by WDMA president Alan Campbell. He mentioned three key areas of focus: membership growth, which is up 8 percent, market promotion and technical leadership. 

WDMA chairperson Jerry Mannigel used the opportunity to clarify the situation with the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) and to dispel rumors about a merger. He said there will be more exploratory meetings regarding the possibility of a merger but at this point there is no timetable for an actual proposal. 

“For now both organizations will stay separate, with further discussion [planned],” he said.

Window and Door Market Update
Scott Shober, senior manager from Ducker Worldwide, presented some preliminary data on a North American window and door study that began in October 2003 and will be completed in April 2004 (Ducker’s Nick Limb also presented this information at the meeting of the American Architectural Manufacturer's Association in February. 

Selling to China
The opportunities and challenges of doing business with China were presented by Carlos Moore, president, AM&S Trade Services. 

“China’s share of the world market is enormous and growing,” he said. 

But Moore quickly pointed out that it is very difficult to sell in China, the world’s sixth largest economy, because of unfair trading rights, “unless they want your product. They manipulate the rules as it fits them.” 

The currency exchange will affect products more than anything else, according to Moore.

Certification and Inspection Programs
In conjunction with the WDMA’s environmental taskforce, summaries were presented on the Forest Stewardship Council (by Pete Walker, manager, business development, Huber Engineered Woods), sustainable forest initiative program (by Michael Virga, senior director, American Forest and Paper Association) and the U.S. Green Building Council and its Leadership In Energy and Environmental Design (by Vint Atkinson, project manager, EMC2 Group.) 

John McFee, WDMA director of certification programs, discussed the side-hinged exterior door program and future energy-rating of exterior side-hinged doors. 

Many examples of fire hazards were shown by Mark Berger, president, Securitech Group Inc., who described fire-rated doors. He pointed out that people use extra hardware for added security, because of ignorance of codes, poor maintenance and unqualified installers. Regarding regular inspection of fire doors, he said, “There is no reason why an opening shouldn’t have the same respect of a fire extinguisher.”

The annual meeting of WDMA gave members a lot to think about as well as the techniques for recalling it.

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