WDMA Looks at Industry Challenges at Fall Meeting

At the Window and Door Manufacturers Association's (WDMA) 2006 Fall Conference, which took place Sunday, October 28 through Monday October 29 in Las Vegas, members talked about what is important in their industry today, and they took a serious look at the future as well.

"We are completely unencumbered, financially strong with great supporting members."

We'll be celebrating our 80th anniversary next year … We have a great future. It's truly a time to shine," says Jim Hackett, chairperson of the WDMA board of directors.

Sunday morning started off with a panel of industry leaders who discussed industry trends and issues. The panel included Dave Beeken of Eagle Window & Door Inc., Barry Homrighaus of Jeld-Wen Inc., Tom Kaiser of Cardinal Glass Industries and Harry Reichwald of Eggers Industries.

The panelist shared their thoughts and observations about globalization, among other things.

"I just got back from Düsseldorf, Germany, [for Glasstec] and the Chinese companies were present. They were a dominant group. It's a looming shadow and it will have an impact on our business, says Kaiser.

As far as the economy is concerned, the panelists had a lot to say.

"Consolidation is here to stay which will create opportunities and challenges," says Beeken.

Homrighaus says that Jeld-Wen's done a lot of consolidation. "We've seen that even our customers are consolidating even faster than we are."

On the topic of globalization, Beeken says, "As countries become more like customers, their expectations and wage rates will go up as well."

The panelist also shared their views on outsourcing.

"The message I give to our suppliers is that reducing cost is important, but value is most important. Focus on doing the things that you do that truly add value," says Beeken.

"It's important for us to choose our partners carefully," adds Reichwald.

The schedule also included speakers addressing relevant topics. A presentation called "Changing Demographics" was presented by Marti Barletta, chief executive officer of the TrendSight Group. She spoke on the importance of marketing and selling to women, and how this needs to be different from men.

The second part of the demographics presentation was given by Warren Nesbitt, group publisher of Hanley Wood LLC. Nesbitt talked about how the housing market is driven by the baby boomers. He presented research that was gathered on baby boomers with a combined monthly income of $100,000.

Members also received interesting insight on what homes might look like in the year 2020, as a panel of architects and builders shared their knowledge and predications. Some of the ideas for houses in 2020 included more vertical residences, lots of color, green developments, more ocean-front communities, more multi-purpose rooms, technologically advanced homes and 'town-square' developments where everything is in walking distance.

The final day of the Window and Door Manufacturers Association's (WDMA) meeting was filled with a wide range of topics, from green building to innovations and energy costs.

Tim Reinhold, Ph.D., vice president of engineering for the Institute for Business and Home Safety, gave members the insurance perspective on building codes and regulatory environments, as well as other things.

Switching gears to address "green building issues," Dennis Creech, executive director of Southface Energy Institute, a company that certifies green homes, says, "It's more profitable for a builder to 'do green,' because they have lower operating costs, maintenance and water costs, and energy bills."

Builders get financial incentives for green building, Creech says.

Robert Cassidy, editor of BD&C magazine, tells the members, "When you go out there and pitch your products, don't just say they are 'green'-talk about durability, maintenance and practical issues. The worst thing we could do is build a green building that'll fall apart in 10 years," says Cassidy. "My readers want some sense of credibility that green buildings are better than conventional buildings."

There was a conflicting message from the two speakers that presented information at the "Rising Energy Costs" seminar.

"Energy prices will decline and be volatile over the next five years," says Ron Denhardt, chief executive officer of SEER Inc.

He says that the U.S. supply decline is projected to reverse its historic trend and grow sharply. Unless demand growth is very strong, prices should fall significantly in real terms.

Although this was good news to members, the second speaker, Roger Bezdek, president of Management Information Services Inc., says that, "The world is consuming a lot more oil and finding less," he says. "When will the demand outstrip supply? No one really knows."

The overall feeling from members regarding the presentations and panels were positive.

"The panel [on industry trends and issues] was very well-received. It's interactive. It's probably something we'll try to do in some amount of frequency in the future," says John McFee, director of certification programs for WDMA.

WDMA's 80th annual meeting will be February 24-28, 2007, at the Fairmont Orchid Resort in Big Island, Hawaii.

For a complete review of the meeting, read the December issue of DWM magazine.

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