Volume 8, Issue 4 - April 2007

Meeting Reviews

Looking at the Bright Side
AAMA Speakers Point Out Strengths of the Industry During Slow Down and a Competitive Climate

Want a silver lining to the decline in the housing market? Jerry Jasinowski, president of the Manufacturing Institute, offered a few to those who attended the annual meeting of the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA). Here’s one: Business investment spending increased 6.8 percent in 2006. 

How about a positive spin regarding the threat from foreign competition? According to Mike Collins of Jordan Knauff and Co., yes, countries such as China pose a threat, but U.S. companies have many advantages over their overseas counterparts. 

More good news also came out of the meeting, held February 11-14 in Marco Island, Fla. Highlights of the annual gathering follows.

Economic Outlook: Modest
According to Jasinowski, the combined effects of rising interest rates, along with a cyclical retrenchment from the 2003-2005 housing boom caused a hard decline in residential investment. 

“During 2006, residential investment fell by 12.6 percent—the biggest four-quarter drop since the early 1990s,” he said.

Residential investment is expected to decline by roughly 2.5 percent in the first half of 2007. But the bright side of the housing downturn is that business investment has remained solid. In 2006, business investment spending increased 6.8 percent. Healthy balance sheets, along with solid global growth, will encourage businesses to continue to invest in equipment and software, said Jasinowski. Business investment is expected to grow roughly 6 percent in 2007. 

Globally, he said growth will remain strong, increasing by 3 percent in 2007. Exports will continue to outpace imports and increase again by 8.7 percent in 207 and then 8.1 percent in 2008. The trade deficit will begin to decline from a high of 5.9 percent of foreign gross domestic product in 2006 to 5.4 percent by 2008. 

Competitive Outlook: Focus on Strengths 
While Jasinowski said growth will remain strong, Collins reported on specifics regarding competitive growth on a global scale and specific measures manufacturers can take to compete. 

Regarding China, Collins reports that it will surpass the United States this year as the number one exporter of manufactured goods. Additionally, Chinese companies are expected to export $1 billion in doors and windows in 2006. Exports had risen 50 percent versus the same period in 2005. 

Collins told attendees that there are several big picture questions to ask themselves. These include:
• How many of my customers would find a way to order six to eight weeks in advance if I offered them a 30-50 percent discount on my products?
• Even if Chinese companies don’t enter my market segment, what will happen when the companies in the segments they do enter have to enter my segment to maintain growth and profitability?
• What will happen in a few years when the Chinese domestic market slows down and companies there begin to focus on exporting goods to keep their plants producing at full capacity?

He pointed out that while China poses a threat, U.S. companies do have many advantages over their overseas counterparts. These include unparalleled research capabilities; the fact that Chinese patent applications are one percent of those filed in the United States and Europe; and a shorter supply chain allows a whole range of competitive responses.

Collins reminded manufacturers to focus on the strength of the brand, and ensure that a motivated workforce is in place in order to compete effectively. He also said to consider hiring an outside consultant to help redesign the organization, spend as much time as possible interacting with distributors and end customers and train employees to cater to tough customers.

“You can’t get the same level of responsiveness from an overseas company,” Collins said. 

Manufacturers must embrace lean manufacturing to be more cost competitive, reduce complexity in product, have shorter lead times and eliminate labor wherever possible.

Vinyl Matters
When they weren’t learning how to compete effectively, AAMA members focused on specific issues facing the door and window industry. 

In the meeting of the Vinyl Material Council, Keith Christman of the Vinyl Institute had much to report. This includes the launching of a new website—Vinyl News Services. The site, www.vinylnewsservice.net, will keep individuals up-to-date on vinyl issues in the United States. He also announced that the Vinyl Promotion Network will be held June 5-6 at the Ritz Carlton Cleveland Hotel.

“The VPN represents the common interest of the vinyl value chain and exists to help promote and define our industry. It will help us all to become stronger, more effective advocates for vinyl products and our industry,” said Christman. 

Much is going on in the word of vinyl this year, as the World Vinyl Forum, held once every five years, will be held Sept 26-28 in Boston. 

On the subject of PVC, Christman reported that California has approved the use of c-pvc pipe. 

“In this review, the state of California did a very good job of reviewing environmental issues,” he said. “They found that the issues are not significant. The 427-page report went through all the issues raised by activists. It’s something we can use to show third party validity to our claims about PVC usage.”

Sealants Update
Much discussion at the AAMA meeting centered on door and window sealants, especially those during the Flashing Sealant Compatibility Task Group that discussed Ballot #208-06. The document as written now allows for different test temperatures, but discussion ensued as to whether or not the language should allow for the use of different temperatures. 

“The cured product is the finished product and that is what should be tested,” said Tremco’s Rick Fiderius, chair of the group. “You only have to test option one and if you pass option one, you can pass option two without testing. Are we reporting results or making judgments? I think we should write it so that we’re reporting results, not making judgments.”

Chris Arnoldt from Q’So suggested keeping the temperature ranges because of factors in the field, such as high temperatures in certain climates. A motion to keep 149 degrees Fahrenheit as the default temperature and allow deviation was passed. 

The Gunnable Expanding Foam Air Seals For Rough Openings Task Group also discussed sealants, but this group reported on results of a recent survey conducted of AAMA Members. Respondents were asked: When selecting a foam sealant, which of the following tests would you consider to be the most important? Following are the top three results: 
1. Distortion pressure on jams, 18 percent;
2. Air seal capability, 11 percent; and 
3. Water penetration , 10 percent. 

Dow Chemical’s Bob Braun, chair of the group, said no problems with wood were reported in the first study, and the group is now looking at vinyl. One of the issues to be studied is frame and movement.

“The movement has nothing to do with product type,” said AAMA’s Larry Livermore. “It can be looked at by an engineer to cut deflection. We’re just looking for a shape that is lowest on the totem pole so that it doesn’t move.” 

First Timers
One entity that met for the first time was the Acoustic Rating Task Group chaired by Dave Moyer of Architectural Testing. The group’s purpose is to review AAMA 1801, as the document was first created in 1997. This test method measures the sound transmission loss of a door, window or glazed wall section. The Sound Transmission Class (STC) and Outdoor-Indoor transmission Class (OITC) of the tested product are generated from the test data.

Air infiltration and operating force are integral elements of the acoustical performance of the tested unit and are therefore required in the product’s performance evaluation. This scope excludes any interior door of window assembly. Moyer clarified that the primary units of measure in the document are metric and the values stated in SI units are to be regarded as the standard (values given in parentheses are for reference only). The document was approved with comments. The group will re-ballot the change of curtainwall specimen in section 5.4 to 2000 mm X 2000 mm, to be the same as NFRC 100 and AAMA 1503.

The responses were all found to be editorial in nature and the task group recommended that the document be republished and that the group disband. AAMA’s next meeting will be held June 10-13 in Huntington Beach, Calif. 

Document Updates
Several work groups made progress in updating important AAMA documents. Following are some highlights.

• The Window Selection Guide Task Group worked on updating the document that was developed originally in 1997. This includes an electronic version of the guide, which is aimed at aiding designers in the decision-making process. “In the review we’ve determined a lot of information is out of date or missing in today’s world. So we have been going through the way the whole document is being reviewed. The design consideration section is the only one we’ve gone through so far,” said Tracy Rogers who chairs the group. 
• The Joint Fenestration Sealants Guide Manual Task Group reported that its work on the guide is almost complete. The final order of business is to finish the glossary—the last piece of the document. The entire document is available on the AAMA website. The document was slated for completion in March.

• 901-Rotary Operator Specification was approved. 
• 902-Sash Balance Specification. The document will be published with a few editorial changes to be made. Motion to disband the 209 group was approved.
 • 906-Specification Task Group. Document was approved for publication, and the group voted to disband.


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