The Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) kicked off its annual meeting Sunday, and the meetings began in earnest Monday morning, where the association got right down to business.The meeting began with the general business session for WDMA members. Although the meeting was closed to the press and to non-members, John Stoiber, WDMA president, briefed DWM magazine on the session, as well as the future direction of the association.

“The industry is changed for good,” said Stoiber, referring to current market conditions. “It won’t be the same.” Thus, the WDMA is changing as well, and since the fall of 2008, Stoiber says the association has concentrated on a renewed focus for the organization. This includes concentrating on four key areas: total product performance; advocacy; education and information; and relationships.

One thing that will change, said Stoiber, is that the events will evolve, and this may include a few more focused events, instead of one general membership meeting. For example, the association is exploring the possibility of a Washington, D.C.-based event next year that is centered on advocacy.

The company introduced its OneVoiceTM Advocacy System in November of last year, which it describes as a fully integrated capability that brings together critical processes, a dedicated team and web-based technology to facilitate overall advocacy efforts in the door, window and skylight industry. The platform will provide WDMA members and other key players in the industry unique access to legislative and regulatory information, allowing the community as a whole to quickly come together on common positions and execute advocacy strategies from the standpoint of a single “voice.”

Stoiber added that through Smith Bucklin (WDMA’s management firm), WDMA has an instant footprint in Washington, D.C., due to the fact that Smith Bucklin has an office there. “We will have a dedicated team focused on advocacy,” said Stoiber.

Other new initiatives coming include the addition of a WDMA learning center. Additionally, Stoiber said the association may bring other related groups or associations to the table. He stressed, however, that the association will still focus on its core membership-the manufacturer.

“Were trying to create a clear differentiation,” said Stoiber. “We think we are the leading organization serving manufacturers.”

Lessons on Leadership
Following the membership meeting was SmithBucklin CEO Henry Givray, who offered the opening keynote on the passion of leadership. Givray, a noted expert on leadership, has authored articles for numerous publications, including Business Week.

“Leadership is the unique, consistent and definitive force behind great, enduring organizations,” he said. “Leadership is recession-proof. If we don’t believe that, what’s the point?”

Givray points out that there is a definite difference between leaders and management.

“A leader visualizes a better state in the future,” he said. “They don’t just visualize change, they get there.”

Looking at current leaders today, whether it be in business or politics, Givray said, “What’s happening today is a massive, breathtaking failure of leadership.”

He said there are ten qualities that define great leaders:
1. Uncompromised integrity and honesty;
2. Trust;
3. Courage and self confidence;
4. Honoring one’s word;
5. Openness and candor balanced with diplomacy and empathy;
6. Compassion and kindness and genuine caring for others;
7. Strong work ethic; commitment to personal excellence;
8. Accountability;
9. High degree of self confidence and self awareness; and a
10. Genuine desire to serve others.

Making Sense out of Green
The above was the title of the presentation given by Charlie Popeck, president and CEO of Green Ideas, and his presentation included how companies are saving significant amounts of money by building green.

Popeck, like other speakers yesterday, spoke of the importance of thinking long-term.

“That’s what we need to do in our country, look more long-term instead of short term,” he said.

According to Popeck, one way to think down the road is to build greener structures thus saving money as “energy costs aren’t going down in our lifetime.”

He quoted a Price Waterhouse survey where a majority of CEOs said they would sacrifice short-term costs for long-term profitability. He also said insurance companies are recognizing the power of green building and some are offering lower premiums for green structures.

While green building has received much coverage in recent years, Popeck says, its growth is on a J curve, and “is going to explode.”

While many companies think in terms of the bottom line, including how building green will affect the bottom line, Popeck said man companies are now looking at the triple bottom line, which includes economics, environmental and social impacts.

“When those three are blended it is the only way to achieve corporate sustainability,” he said.

Panel Discussion Talks Politics
The last session of the day was a panel discussion on the political climate though the discussion also included discussions of environmental and other issues. The moderator was Andrei Cherney, president of Democracy magazine, and panelists were: Ray Barnes, Arizona House of Representatives; John Wesley Miller, builder; and Nils Petermann, Alliance to Save Energy.

Discussion began with the stimulus package, which President Obama was scheduled to sign today.

“More money will be spent on this legislation than the entire war in Iraq,” said Cherney.

Barnes, a Republican, said that while most people say we are in a recession he took it a step further. “Is it a depression?”

“My industry is in a depression, there is no doubt about that,” said Miller.

Petermann pointed out that the stimulus bill won’t be the only important legislation signed this year.

“In 2009 there will be a new energy bill and perhaps a bill on climate change,” he said. “2009 will be a very political year.”

But even with the stimulus package, panelists agreed that many problems remain.

“Believe me, I’d love to build a new home, but we’ve got to get rid of the foreclosures,” said Miler. “We’ve got a few years until we get out of that.”

He admitted that builders, and others in the housing industry, “all shared in the good times for ten years.”
“My fear is that good businesses will fail because they’ve never been through something like this. I have [though never this bad],” he said.

So how do we get through it?

“We as an industry need to come together,” said Miller. He then commended door and window manufacturers for introducing energy-efficient products.

The discussion also turned to the need to upgrade the current housing stock with more efficient windows, as well as money from the stimulus package going into weatherization measures.

“From what I’ve seen in terms of weatherization, you’re just wasting money,” said Miller. “That’s something the DOE can prescribe. We have to focus on long-term solutions. If you’re just caulking a building, that’s not doing anything.”

The WDMA meeting continues today. Look to for further updates.

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