Volume 7, Issue 11 - December 2006

WDMA Looks to the Future 
Important Topics Were Discussed WDMA Technical Conference and Fall Meeting 

by Sarah Batcheler

At the Window and Door Manufacturers Association’s (WDMA) 2006 Fall Conference, which took place Friday, October 27 through Monday October 30 in Las Vegas, members talked about what is important in their industry today, and they took a serious look at the future as well. 

The meeting, which also included a technical conference that began the first day, combined and replaced the WDMA Summer Meeting and May Technical Conference. The members meeting started on Sunday, October 29.

“We are completely unencumbered, financially strong with great supporting members. We’ll be celebrating our 80th anniversary next year ... We have a great future. It’s truly a time to shine,” said Jim Hackett, chairperson of the WDMA board of directors.

Members also heard an opening statement from the new president, Joel Hoiland.

“We’ve got top-notch companies involved in this organization—a great strength,” he said. “Leaders have to have direction, alignment and mobilization. These are strategies we’ll pursue.”

Hoiland also talked about the immediate future for WDMA.

“We’ve put a strategic planning committee together that will come up with a plan [of where to go from here] to announce to the board of directors in early February 2007.

“We’re going to move quickly. We’re excited to move smart-fast, not crazy-fast.”

The agenda for the conference was unique. Between each session and during breakfast and lunch, table-top displays were open for exhibiting companies and members to visit and talk about their products and services.

Industry Trends
Sunday morning started off with a panel, hosted by Hoiland, of industry leaders who discussed industry trends and issues. The panel included Dave Beeken of Eagle Window and Door Inc., Barry Homrighaus of Jeld-Wen Inc., Tom Kaiser of Cardinal Glass Industries and Harry Reichwald of Eggers Industries.

The panelist shared their thoughts and observations about globalization, among other things.
“I just got back from Düsseldorf, Germany, [for Glasstec] and the Chinese companies were present. They were a dominant group. It’s a looming shadow and it will have an impact on our business, said Kaiser.
As far as the economy is concerned, the panelists had a lot to say.

“Consolidation is here to stay, which will create opportunities and challenges,” said Beeken.
Homrighaus said that Jeld-Wen’s done a lot of consolidation. “We’ve seen that even our customers are consolidating even faster than we are.”

On the topic of globalization, Beeken said, “As countries become more like customers, their expectations and wage rates will go up as well.”

The panelist also shared their views on outsourcing.

“The message I give to our suppliers is that reducing cost is important, but value is most important. Focus on doing the things that you do that truly add value,” he added.

However, not all of the companies represented on the panel have increased outsourcing.
“We’re doing more in-sourcing. We’ve found that we need to be supplied in a certain way and a certain manner. We have to make sure we’re competitive,” said Kaiser.

“It’s important for us to choose our partners carefully,” added Reichwald.

Changing Demographics 
The schedule also included speakers addressing relevant topics. A presentation called “Changing Demographics” was presented by Marti Barletta, chief executive officer of the TrendSight Group. She spoke on the importance of marketing and selling to women, and how this needs to be different from men.

According to research presented by Barletta, single women own 22 percent of U.S. homes, where as single men only own 12 percent of the homes. “Prime Time Women” is the phrase she used to refer to women between the ages of 50 and 70. These women are making major buying decisions, and have money to spend.

Barletta pointed out the different buying techniques of women versus men, saying that women tend to bundle activities together, and men tend to prioritize. 

She suggested that when selling to women, present at least three options, do research with women to help your company identify what factors will help a women choose your products, and apply all gender trend principals.

The second part of the demographics presentation was given by Warren Nesbitt, of Hanley Wood LLC. Nesbitt talked about how the housing market is driven by the baby boomers. He presented research that was gathered on baby boomers with a combined monthly income of $100,000.

The research showed that 35 percent of these baby boomers want to buy new or existing homes; 17 percent wanted to build new themselves; 15 percent wanted to remodel their homes and make them better; and 12 percent-which he called ‘accumulators’-wanted to buy a second or third home.

Themes found in the research of these baby boomers include: “It’s all about me” “Because I’ve earned it” “I want it all” and “I’m moving forward, not backward.”

Nesbitt said that these buyers want the expertise of those selling and designing products for their homes. They welcome custom ideas, and they want quality not associated with extravagance, he said.

Builders Provide Valuable Feedback
Members also received interesting insight on what homes might look like in the year 2020, as a panel of architects and builders shared their knowledge and predictions. 

The panel consisted of: James Riviello, partner of The Martin Architectural Group P.C.; Jeff Lake, senior principal of Bassenian/ Lagoni Architects; Jack Miller, vice president of sales for Drees Homes; Tim Hernandez, principal for New Urban Communities; and Alan Simonini, principal of Simonini Builders. 

Some of the ideas for houses in 2020 included more vertical residences, lots of color, green developments, more ocean-front communities, more multi-purpose rooms, technologically advanced homes and ‘town-square’ developments where everything is in walking distance.

“There is going to be incredible, expandable, changeable modular houses,” said Miller. “The only thing stopping technology is technology itself.”

“In 2020, there will be government policies mandating dense, compact green developments,” said Hernandez. “... and people will be conducting more business from home.”

When asked about the possibility of zero energy homes, Simonini said, “It’s really expensive right now. We’re a long way from delivering that. A government mandate is probably necessary to have that. It’s the only way that’s ever going to happen.”

The panelists made suggestions to the door and window manufacturer members. They said that builders’ jobs would be easier if manufacturers could offer vinyl windows in a large selection of colors. Hernandez suggested that manufacturers work to get the cost of impact glass down. Simonini asked if there was a simpler way to install windows that’s full-proof or distributor-installed.

Others on the panel asked for attractive steel doors and affordable garage doors that “look decent.”
What is the value of labeling programs to the builders and architects on the panel?
“Customers look to builders and architects. They trust us. So, it’s not important to customers, but it’s important to us,” said Miller. “They might be your windows, but they’re our houses.”

Codes: From an Insurance Perspective
Tim Reinhold, Ph.D., vice president of engineering for the Institute for Business and Home Safety, gave members the insurance perspective on building codes and regulatory environments.

“Water penetration problems are the next huge issue-it’s a challenge for the future,” said Reinhold. 

“The really bad news is that lots of coastal areas are not using modern engineering standards, and more people are looking to move into these communities,” he said. “And, pressure-related products are critical, regardless of whether you are going to shutter [the windows] or not.”

Green Building
Switching gears to address “green building issues,” Dennis Creech, executive director of Southface Energy Institute, a company that certifies green homes, said, “It’s more profitable for a builder to ‘do green,’ because they have lower operating costs, maintenance and water costs, and energy bills.”

Builders get financial incentives for green building, Creech said.

“I’d encourage you to lobby to have tax credits [Federal Tax Credit Program] extended because they expire in 2007,” said Creech.

Energy Cost Enigma
There was a conflicting message from the two speakers who presented information at the “Rising Energy Costs” seminar, where Ron Denhardt, chief executive officer of SEER Inc. and Roger Bezdek, president of Management Information Services Inc. gave their energy forecasts.

“Energy prices will decline and be volatile over the next five years,” said Denhardt.
He said that the U.S. supply decline is projected to reverse its historic trend and grow sharply. Unless demand growth is very strong, prices should fall significantly in real terms.

Although this was good news to members, the second speaker, Bezdek, said that, “The world is consuming a lot more oil and finding less,” he said. “When will the demand outstrip supply? No one really knows.”

A Successful Meeting
The overall feeling from members regarding the presentations and panels were positive.

Many agreed that one of the highlights was the panel on industry trends and issues. 

“The panel was very well-received. It’s interactive. It’s probably something we’ll try to do in some amount of frequency in the future,” said John McFee, director of certification programs for WDMA.

“I was very impressed with opening panel discussion hosted by Hoiland. The questions and answers were very insightful and provided the audience with a very diverse perspective,” said Mike Moreno, vice president of Commercial/ Architectural Division of Lynden Door Inc. of Lynden, Wash.

Others, like Alan Wagner, national sales manager of Greenland Composites Inc. of Fayetteville, Ark., said the ability to talk to key decision-makers in the table-top displays was a benefit of the meeting.

“This conference brought the key personnel from major window and door companies to one venue...and they are the right contacts I want to show products to and discuss current and future business with. The table-top displays were functional and effective for our goal of serving our customers, featuring our products and innovations and visiting with potential customers,” said Wagner. 

WDMA’s 80th annual meeting will be February 24-28, 2007, at the Fairmont Orchid Resort in Big Island, Hawaii. 

Sarah Batcheler is an assistant editor for DWM magazine.


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