AAMA Members Tackle Variety of Issues at Annual Meeting

The American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) held its annual meeting this week in Marco Island, Fla. The association tackled a range of topics that affect door and window manufacturers.

One of the groups that met the first day was the marketing steering committee, and a main topic discussed was AAMA's certification program.

The group plans on producing some collateral materials this year that manufacturers can use in their showrooms and give to their dealers. Part of this year's objectives is an interactive DVD tool kits for members use in the certification program. Non-members will also have access to these kits at a cost.

AAMA's certification program campaign will be directed to trade magazines as well as consumer outlets. The association will make sure that its ad agency stays in touch with editors to ensure that AAMA is cited as a resource when editors write stories on doors and windows.

To gauge the success of the certification campaign, AAMA will set benchmarks for determining results. For example, focus groups will be conducted to gauge the awareness of code officials, builders and architects to AAMA's certification program.

The Window Selection Guide Task Group also met on Sunday. The guide, developed in 1997, is geared to help designers and the group is updating to an electronic window selection guide.

"In the review we've determined a lot of information is out of date or missing in today's world. So we have been going through the way the whole document is being reviewed.

The design consideration section is the only one we've gone through so far," said Edgetech's Tracy Rogers, chair of the group.

Monday was kicked off with a presentation from Michael Collins of Jordan, Knauff and Co. based in Chicago. The room was packed for his seminar, "The Coming Wave of Competition from Chinese Window and Door Companies." (For more on this topic, see the January issue of DWM for a feature length article on this subject.

Collins also shared insights from the door and window industry benchmark survey his firm conducted of which 23 companies participated. Collins gave attendees a glimpse into these findings (more on this can also be found in past issues of DWM).

Regarding China, Collins reported that it will surpass the United States this year as the number one exporter of manufactured goods. Additionally, Chinese companies are expected to export $1 billion in doors and windows in 2006. Exports had risen 50 percent versus the same period in 2005.

Collins told attendees that there are several big picture questions to ask themselves. These include:

  • How many of my customers would find a way to order six to eight weeks in advance if I offered them a 30-50 percent discount on my products?
  • Even if Chinese companies don't enter my market segment, what will happen when the companies in the segments they do enter have to enter my segment to maintain growth and profitability?
  • What will happen in a few years when the Chinese domestic market slows down and companies there begin to focus on exporting goods to keep their plants producing at full capacity?

He did point out that while China poses a threat, U.S. companies do have many advantages over their overseas counterparts. These include unparalleled research capabilities; the fact that Chinese patent applications are 1percent of those filed in the United States and Europe; and a shorter supply chain allows a whole range of competitive responses.

He reminded manufacturers to focus on the strength of the brand, and ensure that a motivated workforce is in place in order to compete effectively. He also said to consider hiring an outside consultant to help redesign the organization, spend as much time as possible interacting with distributors and end customers and train employees to cater to "tough customers."

"You can't get the same level of responsiveness from an overseas company," Collins said.

He also says manufacturers must embrace lean manufacturing to be more cost competitive, reduce complexity in product, have shorter lead times and eliminate labor wherever possible.

The Vinyl Material Council also met Monday, and Keith Christman of the Vinyl Institute reported on some new developments. This includes the launching of a new website--Vinyl News Services. The site, www.vinylnewsservice.net, will keep individuals up to date on vinyl issues in the United States, according to Christman. He also announced that the Vinyl Promotion Network will be held June 5-6 at the Ritz Carlton Cleveland Hotel.

"The VPN represents the common interest of the vinyl value chain and exists to help promote and define our industry. It will help us all to become stronger, more effective advocates for vinyl products and our industry," says Christman.

On the subject of PVC, Christman reported that California has approved the use of c-pvc pipe. "In this review, the state of California did a very good job of reviewing environmental issues," he said. "They found that the issues are not significant. The 427- page report went through all the issues raised by activists. It's something we can use to show third party validity to our claims about pvc usage."

The Joint Fenestration Sealants Guide Manual Task Group also met Monday and reported that its work on the guide is almost complete. The final order of business is to finish the glossary--the last piece of the document. The entire document is available on the AAMA website. The group hopes to have the document complete by March.

The association reconvened on Tuesday where task groups discussed a variety of subjects.

One of these was the Flashing Sealant Compatibility Task Group that discussed Ballot #208-06. The document as written now allows for different test temperatures, but discussion ensued as to whether or not the language should allow for the use of different temperatures.

"The cured product is the finished product and that is what should be tested," said Tremco's Rick Fiderius, chair of the group. "You only have to test option one and if you pass option one, you can pass option two without testing. Are we reporting results or making judgments? I think we should write it so that we're reporting results, not making judgments."

Chris Arnoldt from Q'So suggested keeping the temperature ranges because of factors in the field, i.e., high temperatures in certain climates. A motion to keep 149 degrees Fahrenheit as the default temperature and allow deviation was made and passed.

The Gunnable Expanding Foam Air Seals For Rough Openings Task Group also discussed sealants, but this group reported on results of a recent survey conducted of AAMA members. Respondents were asked: When selecting a foam sealant, which of the following tests would you consider to be the most important? Following are the top three results: distortion pressure on jams, 18 percent, air seal capability, 11 percent and water penetration ten percent.

Dow Chemical's Bob Braun, chair of the group, said no problems with wood were reported in the first study, and the group is now looking at vinyl. One of the issues to be studied is the frame and how much it's going to move.

"The movement has nothing to do with product type," said AAMA's Larry Livermore. "It can be looked at by an engineer to cut deflection. We're just looking for a shape that is lowest on the totem pole so that it doesn't move."

Hardware issues were also discussed at Tuesday's meetings and two groups disbanded as work on their documents were complete. Following are some updates from the hardware groups:

  • 901-Rotary Operator Specification was approved.
  • 902-Sash Balance Specification. The document will be published with a few editorial changes to be made. Motion to disband the 209 group was approved.
  • 906-Specification Task Group. Document was approved for publication, and the group voted to disband.

One entity that met for the first time was the Acoustic Rating Task Group chaired by Dave Moyer of Architectural Testing. The group's purpose is to review AAMA 1801, as the document was first created in 1997. This test method measures the sound transmission loss of a door, window or glazed wall section. The Sound Transmission Class (STC) and Outdoor-Indoor transmission Class (OITC) of the tested product are generated from the test data.

Air infiltration and operating force are integral elements of the acoustical performance of the tested unit and are therefore required in the product's performance evaluation. This scope excludes any interior door of window assembly. The primary units of measure in the document are metric. The values stated in SI units are to be regarded as the standard. The values given in parentheses are for reference only. The document was approved with comments. The group will re-ballot the change of curtainwall specimen in section 5.4 to 2000 mm X 2000 mm, to be the same as NFRC 100 and AAMA 1503.

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