WDMA Adapts and Changes to Become Market Driven

The Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) joined this week in Cambridge, Md., to prove that its members know how to have fun while coming together to form an effective, collaborative movement. A golf tournament joined industry competitors together in a fun, relaxed atmosphere Monday, August 6, but that afternoon flip-flops were traded in for casual business attire and attendees came to the opening session ready to do business.

Dave Beeken, association chairperson, opened by reminding members that, "Change never comes easy," and "Some people can't stomach it."

WDMA president, Joel Hoiland, shares an overview of the associations new structure during the opening session.

Beeken was preparing attendees for the event's prevailing message of change and adaptation. WDMA's changes were focused on: a revised association structure, legislative issues and the use of lobbyists, market changes, adapting to meet the demands of the green market and process improvements.

"WDMA is in a state of change," Beeken explained.

The association's president, Joel Hoiland, provided an overview of WDMA's new structure, set in place Saturday, August 4, during a committee meeting. While reviewing a detailed organizational chart, Hoiland said change was inevitable if the association's board was going to be successful in providing direction. He said the new structure will support the group's collaborative approach and this message echoed through the events closing ceremony as guest speaker and acclaimed Naval officer Scott Waddle explained, "If a process doesn't make sense, and you're not bound by some organization or regulation, revise it to make it more efficient and effective."

Collaboration is the group's strong point and allows it to tackle tough legislative issues on behalf of its manufacturing members. Hoiland explained the necessity for issue-based representation on items such as the recently proposed changes to window screens in Minnesota. "The biggest thing we did was hire a lobbyist," explained Michael Fischer WDMA's director of codes and regulatory compliance. "You can thank many of the people in this room that your window screens don't have to serve as a window fall safety device."

The association says its plan in providing issue-based representation includes: studying the issue and determining its impacts, developing the association's position, identifying opportunities and allies, strategy formulation, formation of strategic alliances and action. One issue WDMA is currently monitoring and working on involves sill height. "There is likely going to be a requirement raising the 24-inch minimum sill height," Fischer warned. "We think the sill height issue is a matter of smoke and mirrors," he explained as he pledged the association's involvement.

"How many of your companies have representation on the exterior code committee?" Fischer asked. Four or five hands raised. "We need more," he said.

"This is an industry that can be vulnerable," Hoiland warned in the opening session. "Vulnerable to bad legislation," he added. But collaborative efforts require more than just participating in the process. "We do not have the money to do the advocacy work we need to right now," Hoiland said.

WDMA says its short-term objective and new structure aim to make the association market driven and its decisions will be made based on market research. Guest speaker Jim Haughey, chief economist for Reed Construction Data in Norcross, Ga., provided a market forecast and assured the demand is present for doors, windows and skylights, but you have to do your homework. "The housing market is the only sector in the tank right now," Haughey said. But he also assured that demand could be found in other areas. "Hospital and school starts are up," he explained. "And the strong development of two-story residential style hospital facilities requires the same doors and windows you provide for the residential market," he said. He urged attendees to utilize market research to discover areas of need and seek out opportunities. According to Haughey, the slumped residential market need not leave a hole in manufacturer's operations.

As the green market becomes more of a demand, the association shared its game plan. "GreenZone," a sustainability resource, was introduced on WDMA's website. Among other speakers, WDMA invited Curt Alt, of the Composite Panel Association (CPA) to share his association's approach to sustainability requirements and certifications. The CPA developed its own program in 2002 and Alt explained it is under constant review. WDMA assures its Environmental Stewardship Committee is actively monitoring and reviewing various certification programs and urges its members to serve as the "eyes and ears" as it adapts to meet the demands of the green movement and become actively involved in the related political climate.

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