Volume 8, Issue 8 - September 2007

WDMA Adapts to Become Market-Driven
by Drew Vass

The Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) met recently in Cambridge, Md., to prove that its members know how to have fun while coming together to share effective, collaborative education. A golf tournament joined industry competitors together in a fun, relaxed atmosphere on August 6, but that afternoon, flip-flops were traded for casual business attire and attendees came to the opening session ready to do business. 

Change, Change, Change
Dave Beeken, association chairperson, opened by reminding members that “change never comes easy,” and “some people can’t stomach it.”

“WDMA is in a state of change,” Beeken explained. 

The association’s president, Joel Hoiland, provided an overview of WDMA’s new structure, set in place August 4, during a committee meeting. While reviewing a detailed organizational chart, Hoiland said change was inevitable if the association’s board was going to be successful in providing direction. He said the new structure will support the group’s collaborative approach.

Tackling Legislative Issues
“The biggest thing we did was hire a lobbyist,” said Michael Fischer, WDMA’s director of codes and regulatory compliance. “You can thank many of the people in this room that your window screens don’t have to serve as a window fall safety device.”

The association says its plan to provide issue-based representation includes studying the issue and determining its impacts, developing the association’s position, identifying opportunities and allies, strategy formulation, formation of strategic alliances and action. One issue WDMA currently is monitoring and working on involves the sill height of residential windows. “There is likely going to be a requirement raising the 24-inch minimum sill height,” Fischer warned. “We think the sill height issue is a matter of smoke and mirrors.” 

“How many of your companies have representation on the exterior code committee?” Fischer asked. 

Four or five hands rose. “We need more,” he said.

“This is an industry that can be vulnerable—vulnerable to bad legislation,” Hoiland warned. 

But he added that collaborative efforts require more than just participating in the process. “We do not have the money to do the advocacy work we need to right now.” 

Plans Built on Research 
WDMA says its short-term objective and new structure aim to make the association market-driven. 

Guest speaker Jim Haughey, an economist from Norcross, Ga., provided a market forecast and assured the demand is present for doors, windows and skylights, but that manufacturers have to do their homework. 

“The housing market is the only sector in the tank right now,” Haughey said. 

He also said that demand could be found in other areas. “Hospital and school starts are up,” he explained, “and the strong development of two-story residential style hospital facilities requires the same doors and windows you provide for the residential market.” 

He urged attendees to utilize market research to discover areas of opportunity. According to Haughey, the slumped residential market need not leave a hole in a manufacturer’s operations.

Green Game Plan 
As green products become more in demand, the association shared its game plan. “GreenZone,” a page that displays WDMA’s commitment to environmental stewardship, was introduced on WDMA’s website. 

Among other speakers, WDMA invited Curt Alt of the Composite Panel Association (CPA) to share his association’s approach to sustainability requirements and certifications. The CPA developed its own program in 2002 and Alt explained it is under constant review. 

Hoiland said WDMA’s Environmental Stewardship Committee is monitoring and reviewing various certification programs actively and urges its members to serve as the “eyes and ears” as it adapts to meet the demands of the green movement and become involved in the related political climate. 

Drew Vass is a contributing editor for DWM magazine. 


© Copyright 2007 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.