Volume 15, Issue 1 - January-February 2011

Lights of the Roundtable
An Interview with the Members of the IWFA Manufacturers’ Committee
by Debra Levy

Kathryn Giblin briefs members of the IWFA manufacturers’ committee - Scott Davidson, Jim Black,Tom Niziolek, Charlie Calisto and Lisa Winkler and Executive director Darrell Smith.

During the past year, the International Window Film Association (IWFA) has greatly expanded its reach and depth through a series of very subtle and targeted moves. First, the association attracted the participation of window film manufacturers, who had previously been served by the window film committee of the Association of Industrial Metallizers, Coaters and Laminators (AIMCAL). “The move by the manufacturers from AIMCAL to IWFA has been huge for us,” says IWFA executive director Darrell Smith. “It’s allowing us to create opportunities for and awareness of window film like never before.”

Window Film magazine publisher Debra Levy held a roundtable with committee members including Smith, Jim Black of Hanita-Tek, Charles Calisto of 3M Company, Scott Davidson of Johnson Window Films, Kathryn Giblin of Bekaert Specialty Films, Tom Niziolek of Madico and Lisa Winkler of Solutia. Our candid discussion about their successes thus far, and where they believe the industry is going, follows.

WF—One of the ‘raps’ against window film, whether warranted or not, is that the awareness of its advantages as a building product is limited. How would you respond to that?

KGIt’s a valid comment; awareness is limited, but it is also a tremendous opportunity as its potential has not been realized yet.

LW—Film is able to compete with advanced glazing and other energy-saving products. We know that. We also know we have to be able to prove it for the standards-setting groups and others. We, as an association, knew we needed to control that message more.

DS—We came to the realization that the fenestration industry controls the dialogue around energy-efficiency and we needed an entry ticket to that table. That ticket was NFRC and it took us over 10 years to receive the NFRC rating.

WF—I would expect that it’s hard for some IWFA members to see the value in this. Is that the case?

LW—It is hard for dealers to realize why this is important until they think about it. They may say ‘hey, all these efforts, the National Fenestration Rating Council [NFRC] ratings, etc. aren’t doing anything for me …’

JB— …but they are. The dealers just haven’t seen the results yet. We need to get window film accepted as a viable alternative before a variety of building groups—that’s what leads to greater acceptance and, ultimately, more window film sales. The dealers haven’t seen all the results from this year, but they will.

SD—Dealers are starting to realize this. They may say ‘hey, I didn’t get this job, but I would not even have had an opportunity to bid were it not for the work the IWFA is doing.’ In the past, a building owner may have set about replacing glass without realizing film could solve his problem, or the architect might have missed a cost-efficient alternative that film provides. That happens less and less nowadays. Maybe you did or didn’t get this particular job, but without the work of the IWFA you wouldn’t even have been able to bid this job.

DS—We have found you can provide them [architects, builders, building owners] the information about film, but it has to be reinforced and repeated. We need to retell the story of energy-efficiency, of environmental responsibility and of cost-savings over and over to resonate with those groups.

Let’s take our work with the NFRC. If we aren’t involved with major building codes, if window film isn’t tested and rated, then legislators and building code officials may never understand why it’s important. We needed those ratings for credibility, for legislation and for tax credits. Not every member will understand the value right away.

WF—It’s a long-term strategy then?

CC—Exactly. Our members, and the industry as well, need to understand that we wouldn’t be where we are without the efforts of the IWFA. It’s taken a lot of effort to help educate people so that something like the tax credit gets put in place. Window film is one of only a very small list of building materials specifically mentioned in the proposed legislation. That is an amazing feat.

SD—Most dealers have to use their efforts on a day-to-day basis to get the next sale tomorrow. They know that their world is influenced by factors in the larger world, but don’t have time to influence them. This is something IWFA does for them.

CC—It’s a domino, or should I say a snowball, effect—and they need to get a sense of that. It’s a huge undertaking.

KG—For example, we are developing overseas opportunities, too. Globally, there are standards being developed and created that could affect North America and vice versa. It is important that the IWFA keeps abreast of these to ensure that we are aware and continue to act on all opportunities that are available for window film.
And that is IWFA’s goal: to continuously drive and facilitate the expansion of the window film market in the United States and worldwide. We are doing so through four major initiatives: research, advocacy, communications and education.

CC—We plan to increase the total market size for window film and reduce barriers to growing the market. We recognized that in order to do so we needed a uniform platform from which to work.

KGThat’s why the move from AIMCAL to the IWFA manufacturers’ committee was crucial. We moved because it made sense for all parts of the industry to join together under a unified platform. Aligning under one brand and one umbrella KG—That’s why the move from AIMCAL to the IWFA manufacturers’ committee was crucial. We moved because it made sense for all parts of the industry to join together under a unified platform. Aligning under one brand and one umbrella makes sense. The manufacturers already had strong partnerships among themselves with trade associations and other groups. It makes sense to forge a closer relationship with dealers and distributors, as well, so we all speak with one voice.

JB—The timing also was right. Our task is a bit different than most of the other AIMCAL groups. It’s legitimizing the product. Not everyone can appreciate that right off the bat.

Our manufacturers’ committee has six members. It’s still evolving, but the core is there. Our job is to promote the industry as a whole.

CC—And now it’s time for us to unify and promote window film as a whole at all levels, including dealers and distributors.

WF—Didn’t being part of AIMCAL serve the manufacturers well, though?

DS—It did for a long time. You have to remember that in the beginning of our relationship with AIMCAL most window film suppliers made other products as well. AIMCAL members were suppliers of raw polyester films for tons of applications. We utilized their technical expertise as well. There were distinct market or distribution issues then, just as there are now. Once window film grew as an industry, it was time for not just manufacturers but the dealers and distributors to be involved, which was the beginning of the IWFA.

The dealer and distributor members are critical to the IWFA. That is our future. We need to communicate that value to everyone in the industry so we can grow it together.

CC—The U.S. industry has matured. We need to help dealers see film in a new way. It’s a solution. It’s an energy-saving product, it’s a cost-saving product. We need to help the dealers market these advantages. We need to march forward together and grow IWFA’s membership.

WF—The sad reality is, and it’s true for almost all associations, that the development successes you have benefit non-members as well. It’s a value for the entire industry.

CC—More than 38 state tinting laws have been impacted by the work of the IWFA. IWFA has built legitimacy for window film. The tax credit for window film would not exist without the IWFA. Who else would have taken up that cause? Most of the utility rebates came about as the result of work by the IWFA. Just look at all the efforts we have put forth in Florida—the consumer alert and more. Membership dues of $175 a year are a small price to pay for such successes.

WF—Can you explain exactly what the IWFA did in Florida?

CC—Well, for a variety of reasons, the shutter industry became unglued. They came after our industry screaming and yelling. They were trying to limit our business and we became aware of it.

The Florida Attorney General’s (AG) office wasn’t really aware of the full benefits and properties of window film. But through our efforts we were able to educate them so they could be aware of what the real problems were. IWFA member businesses in Florida were saved because of this.

KGNow they consider us a resource. The key is that we are adding the role of watch dog and we are building long-lasting relationships with organizations such as the Florida AG’s office. To do this, we needed a bunch of resources that only a manufacturers’ group could provide. Dealers and distributors couldn’t have done this on their own.

WF—Let’s shift gears a bit and talk about Home Star and Building STAR. How do you think these two initiatives will affect the film industry?

DS—This is where the real value of IWFA comes in. IWFA was involved from the start. We did the energy analysis and the research. We provided data and more data. When a congressional staffer wanted it in the morning, we worked all through the night before to get it there. The result is proposed legislation that specifically mentions window film—huge.

WF—What can you tell me about those efforts?
KGThere are four areas. The government and advocacy areas focus on legislation. We have an excellent lobbyist firm that we brought on one year ago and they identified the opportunity with Home Star and Energy Star and helped us be included in that proposed legislation. More recently, they have been helping us lobby
for an extension on the tax credits in which window film is included under 25c. They, for example, found that window film should qualify for tax credits and we went to the IRS with the information and they said ‘you’re right, you qualify.’ That’s why the tax credits are there. Lisa [Winkler] chairs the research/technical area.

LW—The Research and Technical subcommittee is the back end. We deal with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers, the Glazing Industry Code Committee, NFRC, the building codes and others. They have very technical discussions and we need to be able to speak their way. We have to provide clear, technical information.

CC—We have been working to get window film specifically called out by name in legislation rather than having it under the cover of insulation. We have succeeded. It’s a great victory. The government is saying that window film is, in fact, an energy-savings component. And IWFA did this quietly. The dealers and distributors don’t see the 30 to 40 visits to the Hill [Capitol Hill] that helped make it possible. Regardless of what happens, window film is now known on the hill, known as an energy-efficient cost effective alternative to new windows. It’s as exciting as heck.

WF—How do you think the legislation will fare when it comes up?
CC—We hired HBW (IWFA’s lobbying firm) and we had lobbyists at the table. We are giving legislators and their staffs the information they need to make something happen. We jumped through every hoop the legislators asked us to. That’s how you earn your stripes with those groups.

LW—Regardless of the outcome, it’s brought window film to exposure we have never had.

DS—The chief of staff of one of the senators involved with energy told our lobbyist that ‘your industry is well-known in Washington.’ That’s a big change. So much of what we did in the past was explain what window film is. We don’t have to do that any more.

WF—What about the other two committees?

KGI chair our Communication/ Education committee, which has brought a public relations firm, Schwartz Communications, on board. We are also in the process of updating our website and are going to look to consumer awareness as well. Tom Niziolek chairs the Alliances/Membership committee.

TN—Our mission and vision is to bring synergy across the globe, to bring everyone together and to have one voice—whether it’s in Florida or Australia or Latin America.

The more we can create that interlinked committee activity, the more successful we will be.

Look at the progress we have made in a very short time. We had a history of being defensive and reactive. Now all we have is pro-activity and opportunity.

CC—Here you have six manufacturers who are working hard to help the industry. Our hope is to see an increase in membership as the benefits of all this work goes to non-members as well. Those other folks are benefitting, too. Should they become members and help us to do more faster? Absolutely.

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