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Volume 6   Issue 7               August  2005


Consolidation Discussions Dominate at AAMA Meeting
by Charles Cumpston

Victory is hard to achieve. Victoria, B.C. is hard to get to.

The first of these two lessons I learned early in life. The second I found out at the end of June when the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) held its summer meeting at the bucolic island spot on the Pacific. It is not an easy place for many people to get to.

However, because there was a lot of important business to be discussed, including the consolidation talks between AAMA and the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA), approximately 360 people did turn out for the four-day meeting.

Still Talking 
But, back to victory. Is it too difficult to merge two associations? The answer to that question is what seemed to be on the minds of a number of people at the opening session where the bulk of the time was spent on the consolidation talks between AAMA and WDMA.

AAMA president John Burnett went through a presentation that chronicled the discussions between the two groups with emphasis on the concerns members had voiced at the annual meeting in Fort Lauderdale in February. He went through each point of concern and then explained what had happened in the talks since then.

He emphasized that what he was talking about are proposals which have been agreed to by both consolidation teams but had not been voted on or approved by either board.

Among the new things agreed to by members of the two consolidation teams is that suppliers will have a vote at all levels of the technical process, including whole unit standards; the members of each market segment will develop their own standards; the new association will have an umbrella name and existing branded documents will be kept with the same name.

Burnett also explained that there would be one certification program, and that current programs will run “as is.” This, he called a “big area that will take a lot of work.”

Also, the consolidation teams have put together a tentative proposal to have a board structure consisting of 13 to 16 members. Of those, three will be residential, two architectural, two door, one supplier, and two to four at-large manufacturers, as well as the past president and other officers.

Then came the discussion.

“The presentation is positive and shows what AAMA will gain,” said Rich Biscoe of Architectural Testing. “The question is, ‘What will AAMA lose?’ The suppliers will have less vote and the AAMA certification program will lose,” he said.

In the ensuing discussion, it was agreed that more frequent updates on the consolidation should be made to the membership, probably by newsletter. Burnett said that the timeline is to have a ballot out by the end of the year. 

Bill Gorman of Milgard Manufacturing Inc. asked that a straw vote be taken to get the sentiment of those present for or against the merger. Burnett pointed out that this would not be fair to the members who were not present and Gorman said that the vote didn’t have to be done then but could be done by e-mail to include the sentiments of all members. (In response to the member concerns about the merger of the associations, the board of directors, at their final meeting in Victoria, voted to send a letter survey to all member company voting representatives to determine whether the membership as a whole is interested in continuing to negotiate consolidation with WDMA.)

With a tone of exasperation, Biscoe said, “People I talk to say, ‘What do we have to say to get the board to finalize this?’” 

Burnett replied, “The board members are here, tell them what you think. We’ve got work to do and if you think this is enough, tell them. There are people who want this and there are people who don’t.”

Pete DeSoto, a member of the AAMA consolidation team, then spoke pointing out that the discussion should not be about one group winning and the other losing. 

“There are two different philosophies and each group has made different decisions over the years that have had different consequences,” he said. He gave the example of AAMA setting up its finances to have a year’s operating expenses in reserve while WDMA operated on a no-excess financial model that kept no cash in reserve. 

As at the last meeting, there still seemed to be deep feelings by some against the consolidation, then time ran out and everyone hustled off to their next meetings.

Codes Update
Julie Ruth, AAMA code consultant, updated the group on what is happening in that arena. She explained that the International Code Commission (ICC) code development cycle is now at the stage where public comments have been made and the next step is the final action hearings. At these hearings, only code officials can vote. 

She reported that the Joint Code Committee (JCC) which was set up by AAMA and WDMA, has been a success in terms of what it supported and what it opposed. Its success percentage in the last round of code hearings was significantly higher than the norm.

She also spoke about the U.S. Energy Bill which was introduced in March and passed while the group was holding its meeting. “Speedy,” was her response. She said that she had been prepared to provide information about the bill but had not considered that it would be passed already.

The bill provides tax incentives for both residential and commercial buildings.

On the residential side, new construction credits are given to builders for increased energy efficiencies of the dwelling. And homeowners can get tax credits for increasing the energy efficiency of their existing homes. The upgrade bonuses are a credit of up to $4,000 multiplied by the percentage reduction in energy costs. This applies to heating and cooling energy only. The incentives are in effect until the end of 2009.

The North American Fenestration Standard (NAFS) task group met to explain the current status of this effort. Ray Garries, co-chairperson, said the session would be spent talking about the next version of the document and some changes to the current one. It was the latter which took up the most time and sparked the most discussion.

Garries told attendees that each country is going to develop its own user guide for the standard developed by AAMA, WDMA and the Canadian Standards Association. This led to a discussion of the hypothesis that, if there can be addenda and user guides that are different, then the original purpose of having one testing standard or procedure is defeated.

The argument was made by those involved in its development that NAFS addenda can only have criteria that is higher than the original document not lower, but it has been agreed that there could be two tests. 

The CWDMA’s Jeff Baker, who was involved in the harmonization for Canada, said that 95 to 99 percent of the Canadian document is identical to the U.S. version. He explained that products have to have a screen test in Canada because, in that country, the screen is part of the building codes and the groups could not get rid of it. The other differences were described as prescriptive requirements that are very minor, some small differences in test sizes.

In the end analysis, Baker said companies currently still have to do two tests and will continue to do so probably through the end of the year. However, Garries pointed out that companies can perform one test and get two reports and if they have tested to the larger of the two sizes (U.S. and Canadian) then that would be enough to certify in both countries.

AAMA will hold its fall meeting in Tucson, Ariz., October 23-26 at the Marriott Starr Pass Resort. 

Charles Cumpston is a contributing editor to DWM magazine. He can be reached at ccumpston@glass.com. 

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