Being part of a trade organization is a great way to learn about innovation in our industry. There are 91,000 trade associations in the U.S. and these groups are responsible for $50 billion worth of volunteer time. That’s a lot of opportunity for learning! Every businessperson should owe part of his time and treasure to the industry they have profited from, and, as door and window manufacturers, we have many opportunities.

My experience with the core door and window associations shows me that the finished product manufacturers are very underrepresented. Our industry is diverse and large, with around 1,500 door and window builders, and yet many times the trade meetings have less than 30 representatives for windows! Clearly, we all need to make a new commitment to our associations. The advantages of involvement are many, including:

  • Networking with peers, customers and vendors;
  • Hearing about the latest innovations;
  • Understanding the key issues we will soon confront;
  • Building a better team, through education and involvement;
  • Helping to establish rules to govern our companies; and
  • Fulfilling our commitments to the industry.

Regarding which groups to support, there are many choices to make. The core decisions you already know:

  • AAMA—for a wide range of building standards, diversity and size for vinyl, aluminum and fiberglass materials, as well as all component standards
  • NFRC—for energy policy and rulemaking, along with insight into Energy Star programs
  • WDMA—for advocacy, policy and a focus on wood materials
  • IGMA—for all concerns on building and certifying insulating glass units
  • AMD—for a focus on door prehanging businesses
  • FenCan—for Canadian door and window producers

All of these core groups are an essential part of our industry and deserve our help and support.

Many Innovations are revealed and displayed at their meetings, as the new products are integrated into the existing rules and standards. New materials and processes that help our industry be more effective and efficient are also discussed and offered for study. It’s a great place to see what’s new, or to get your new innovations off the ground and into standards.

The past founders and owners of door and window manufacturing firms made time to be involved and to set direction for the future. Over time, this top executive involvement has eroded for many reasons, including leadership priorities, investment owners, anti-competitive fears and less family run businesses, to name a few. I can’t overstate the importance of this practice for the health of the businesses and business environments we live and work in. The Marvin family (Marvin Windows), the Wendt family (Jeld-Wen), the Semling family (Semco windows) the Milgard family (Milgard Windows) and the Desoto family (MI Windows) all posted strong participation in the creation of the policies and standards we see and use today. We also had Ron Sandwith (Mikron extrusions), Rod Hershberger (PGT Windows), Chris Fuldner (EFCO Corp.) and Georges Thiret (Graham Architectural) as key executives, helping to build up our trade associations. A new generation of leaders must set the pace for the future.

It’s time for today’s leaders to ramp up their support.

Keep innovating!

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