Drum roll, please. And the award for best American Architectural Manufacturers Association Conference of the year goes to… the AAMA 2017 Western Region Winter Summit! Not even Warren Beatty, Jimmy Kimmel, or the academy itself could have messed this one up. In late February, I was lucky enough to attend AAMA’s Western Region Summit in Phoenix, and I could not have been more impressed. The speakers delivered excellent presentations and proved that the fenestration industry is trending in the right direction. For those who missed the summit, here’s a summary of my thoughts and opinions, with references to various speakers and their messages. I hope you’ll find their insight as beneficial as I did.

Find the Opportunities

The first speaker that impressed me was James Katsaros from DuPont Building Innovations. His presentation centered on “Industry Standards for Robust Installation of Challenging Window and Wall Systems.” He said a vast majority of wall system failures are a result of poor installation methods, and these failures often directly correlate with the market-driven development of installation documents. In fact, he said many organizations, installers, and manufacturers fail or refuse to “test” their new installation methods on actual projects, and never perform simulations, evaluations or assessments prior to implementation. We need to be better. Instead of simply hoping for the best, let’s measure twice, cut once, and deliver a quality product with proven installation methods that won’t soon be in need of repair or replacement.

The bad news: what’s done is done. Millions of fenestration products have been improperly installed in thousands of applications over the last 50 years. The good news: where one door closes, another door opens. Due to the lack of uniformity and consistency in installation methods, the replacement fenestration market has exploded. Opportunity abounds for manufacturers and installers to restore or replace products as a result of now-defunct installations. But how do we acquire the replacement window jobs, while simultaneously ensuring that we don’t repeat our predecessor’s mistakes? How can you turn your company into one that wins the replacement contracts, while delivering a quality product that will last the test of time? Joe Hayden of Pella/EFCO has an answer.

Taking Action for the Industry

Hayden provided helpful insights based on his near 30-year career. He discussed the importance of updating and evaluating industry standards; something with which I could not agree more. It’s critical to stay ahead of the ever-changing construction environment and recent developments in technology. Hayden discussed the steps that AAMA, Canadian Standards Association and the Window and Door Manufacturers Association have already taken, and presented a positive and encouraging outlook toward what these organizations plan to do in the near future to ensure updated standards for 2017, with the goal of complete simplification and implementation by 2019. The idea is that these standards will help eliminate installation guesswork and provide a uniform process for installing fenestration industry products.

While full implementation is unlikely for another two years at the earliest, it begs the question, what can you do to put your business a step ahead of the competition before 2019? Steve Selkowitz of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has the blueprint, or should I say, greenprint.

Move Your Business to the Next Level

The ideals of being energy-conscious or profit-motivated have long been in direct conflict. If you want to save the environment, you have to be willing to cut your profit margins. Running a profitable business takes its toll on the environment, but it doesn’t have to be that way anymore. Selkowitz outlined with predictive analytics how the market is trending in a direction that will create a symbiotic relationship between these often-competing principles. Virtually all production is trending green for one reason or another, and the fenestration industry is following. Selkowitz provided examples from several leading states that have passed bills and standards to encourage environmentally conscious construction, and their reasoning was simple: Give the people what they want.

Fenestration manufacturers and installers want to make money. Customers want to save money. Customers understand that paying more now for tight and secure doors and windows could save thousands in energy costs over time. Legislatures and representatives understand that environmentally-friendly practices are better than non-friendly practices. Put all that together and you get an untapped market waiting for expansion and the delivery of more products and services that cater to it.

How can you ensure your business capitalizes on this emerging market? Be the first to evolve. When the others are trying to scramble and catch up with new mandates and requirements in the next five to ten years, be the company that chose to act early. Pre-comply.

Selkowitz emphasized the importance of not just following and implementing, but predicting where the market will go next. Being a step ahead of the competition today could put you miles ahead of it tomorrow. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Which company would you rather hire: Bare-Minimum Windows, whose representative states their products are in compliance with the standards of today, or Above-and-Beyond Inc., who manufactures products that not only meet current standards, but are projected to comply with those for the next ten years? The answer is a no-brainer. Pre-complying may just be the secret to turning a potential customer into a satisfied repeat client.

AAMA’s West Region Summit hammered home several points I’ve been preaching to my fenestration clients for years: a small investment up front can save your company big down the road.

Charles A. “Chip” Gentry is a founding member of Call & Gentry Law Group in Jefferson City, Mo. He can be reached at chip@callgentry.com.


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