AAMA Annual Meeting
Meetings & Events
Marco Island, FL—Educational efforts were the name of the game as the American Architectural Manufac-turers Association headed into a new year of doing business at its annual meeting, hosted in February in Marco Island, FL. The association elected new leaders at its 70th annual event and re-asserted its focus on educating key audiences about its certification programs.
Incoming chairman Gantt Miller of Winco told attendees Monday morning that AAMA has a renewed focus now that failed consolidation negotiations between AAMA and the Window and Door Manufacturers Association are solidly in the past. “We’re now emerging from that distraction with a number of initiatives before us,” he said.
Among these initiatives, are three elements of a strategic plan—facilitating affiliations with strategic industry partners, revamping the association’s long-standing certification program, and launching a comprehensive marketing plan to get the AAMA name in front of key audiences. The group had focused on the latter two objectives coming into the meeting and expects to make significant headway in these areas in 2007. “It’s more important than ever for us to pay attention to the things that put AAMA on the map,” Miller said. The ultimate goal, he said, is to “ensure that the AAMA Gold Certification becomes a household word” among architects, builders and homeowners.
While officials anticipate a full rollout of the association’s reworked certification and labeling program at its summer meeting in June, president and CEO Richard Walker did provide a sneak peek to its elements. Under the direction of the board, the task group charged with evaluating the certification program has suggested moving away from label fees to a flat-fee structure. This would allow for consistent revenue for the association, as well as an alignment of fees with the services provided, Walker noted. Recommended flat fees include member and non-member tiers and may include fees for product line reviews and plant inspections.
Hand-in-glove with the adjustments to the certification itself, the association is focusing on a professional marketing effort to make sure specifiers and builders know the meaning of and value associated with AAMA-certified products. Starting later this spring, AAMA will run a series of advertisements in trade magazines, each geared toward specific audiences and explaining various types of certifications.
In other AAMA business:
- Continuing Education. The Marketing Steering Committee opened the meeting on Sunday with a review of existing and developing American Institute of Architects continuing education courses. “The role of this association should be how to educate our clients,” said Raj Goyal, vice president and general manager of the Blast Mitigation Division, Graham Architectural Products. Goyal also serves as co-chairman of the Marketing Steering Committee.
Architects earn AIA continuing education credit for taking AAMA’s online and classroom seminar courses, including Architects of a Better Mind held annually at GlassBuild America: The Glass, Window & Door Expo.
The association plans to build its educational programs in the New Year, said Janice Charletta, AAMA’s marketing and membership manager. “We went from having two or three courses for a number of years, and in a couple of years, we’ll have 10 or more,” she said.
Courses in the pipeline include topics such as vinyl, glass, doors, sealants, flashing, blast resistance and mullions.
- Next Steps for Vinyl. Keith Christman of the Vinyl Institute gave the Vinyl Material Council Marketing Committee an update on the U.S. Green Building Council’s draft report on the use of vinyl in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. At the time of the meeting, Christman noted it was still uncertain whether USGBC would take a newutral stance, neither penalizing nor rewarding architects for using vinyl products in LEED projects. The final report, confirming the vinyl-neutral findings, was released later in February (see news item on page 14).
- Training Officials. The Institute of Business and Home Safety is seeking funding from AAMA and other industry associations to develop a training Web site for code officials. The group, which attempts to lessen the devastation from natural disasters through research and appropriate construction and maintenance practices, is aiming to produce a video showing proper window installation techniques so code enforcement officials will know what to look for when conducting inspections. IBHS has approached AAMA and other groups like WDMA, Fenestration Manufacturers Association, National Association of Home Builders and individual companies to kick in $3,500 each to launch the production process.
- Training Members. As mentioned, the Learning Unit Development Committee is busy steering the increased flow of educational efforts coming down the pipeline from various materials councils within AAMA. Three courses addressing vinyl, skylights and performance standards are already available online and about six committees are developing topics from their various perspectives.
Many AAMA companies may not realize that the association’s LU courses are available at no charge to members who want to go into the field to present the course to architects, the committee reported. Formally named the AAMA Educational Licensing Program, the initiative gives companies face time with potential customers without having to manage the administrative tasks that come with the accreditation by the American Institute of Architects. “You get to be in front of these architects to present these courses but you don’t have to hold your own providership,” explained Angela Dickson, senior coordinator of communications, AAMA.
TRENDS SHAPING MANUFACTURING
The annual gathering included several special presentations addressing trends that are shaping the window and door industry, as well as businesses and manufacturing in general.
Keynote speaker Frank Abagnale, an expert in the areas of forgery, embezzlement and secure documents, and the man whose identity scams as a teenager were the inspiration for the book and subsequent movie “Catch Me If You Can,” amused attendees with his life story and a moral message encouraging parents to cultivate a loving environment for their children. He also delivered a powerful message about identity and document protection, both for individuals and businesses. He has served as an FBI consultant for more than 25 years and has encouraged financial institutions, corporations and individuals to take identity protection very seriously. He pointed listeners to his Web site, www.abagnale.com, for fraud prevention information.
Michael Collins, an investment banker and advisor specializing in the window and door industry, presented on behalf of his Chicago-based firm, Jordan, Knauff & Co., his research and observations on what he calls “the wave of Chinese competition.”
His talk was based on a presentation he has previously hosted in a complimentary Webinar in which many window and door industry executives participated last fall.
After giving listeners an overview of the domestic window and door manufacturing industry in China, Collins outlined some low, moderate and high-risk segments of the U.S. industry that would likely be affected by Chinese imports. Those at high risk of losing business to Chinese competitors are those who produce commodity products in large runs that are not particularly technology-dependent. Those facing the lowest risk, he said, are producers who incorporate technology and innovation into their fenestration products, produce small runs or custom work and those that serve niche or regional markets. “[The Chinese producers] still don’t have a good understanding of the U.S. market,” he said.
Manufacturing as an industry in the United States is still as strong as ever, regardless of what misconceptions might be circulating in society, according to Jerry Jasinowski, president of The Manufacturing Institute, the research and education arm of the National Association of Manufacturers. “It is anything but in decline,” he told AAMA attendees during one of the week’s lunch sessions.
He started his talk by pointing out that manufacturing in the U.S. is responsible for about 70 percent of the research and development that takes place in the country. “Manufacturing is the engine of technology in this country,” he said.
Jasinowski, who is also past president of NAM, said the long-term outlook for the macro economy is good and highlighted several trends to watch, including the domestic political landscape and expanding global centers of commerce. He noted that some companies’ leaders will have to take steps to increase their global footprints to keep up with overseas competitors. “You have to look at other options to deal with that competition,” he said.
Jasinowski also brought up the escalating public sector costs in this country. A recent NAM study pegged U.S. manufacturers as facing a 30 percent burden with taxes, health care and other overhead costs compared to counterparts in other developed countries. Compounding this is a need for a high-performance workforce, especially in the areas of engineering and production. “We all need to look at how we can raise these skill levels,” he notes.
Private equity groups are shaping the landscape in many industries, and the building products and window and door sectors are no exception, he said. Investment firms’ activities are worth watching as a trend, Jasinowski said. “In some respects, [they] have become the dominant players in terms of what goes on with mergers and acquisitions,” he added.
While many of the trends Jasinowski highlighted present challenges to window and door manufacturers, he came back around to technology and innovation as U.S. producers’ strong point. “Product development and innovation is not a silver bullet but it’s still the strongest thing we have to complete,” he explained.
Wrapping up, he left listeners with the following: “We are in very good shape in this country, overall. Having said that, we do face global challenges larger than every before and that’s not going to change.”
AAMA organizers reported that more than 425 attendees registered for the meeting. The next gathering is scheduled for June 10-13 at the Hyatt Regency in Huntington Beach, CA. For more information, visit www.aamanet.org.