WDMA Annual Meeting

April 1, 2007
Meetings & Events

Kohala Coast, HI—Under new leadership the past six months, the Window & Door Manufacturers Association unveiled an updated strategic plan at its 80th annual meeting, held the last week of February. Joel Hoiland, who became the new WDMA president last year, joined with key members of the strategic planning committee to outline the organization’s new direction.

WDMA now represents about 60 window and door manufacturers and 80 suppliers, Hoiland noted, adding that among these companies are most of the industry’s leaders. “We want to represent the entire window and door industry, but we want to focus on our core competencies,” he said, pointing to manufacturers of residential exterior product and architectural interior doors.

Looking back to the last time WDMA put forth a strategic plan in 2001, it has been very successful achieving one of its key goals—strengthening its position in the technical arena, where it now is very active as far as developing industry standards and representing the industry on the code front.

“Where we’ve been quiet,” Hoiland continued, “has been on the marketing side.” Noting the fact that WDMA was involved in talks with the American Architectural Manufacturers Association for several years, he continued, “Much was on hold.” Jim Hackett of Jeld-Wen Inc., current chair of WDMA, echoed those sentiments. “For some time, we were encumbered. We’re unencumbered now.”
Jeld-Wen’s Jim Hackett, left, WDMA’s outgoing chairman, and Joel Hoiland, WDMA president, led a panel discussion of the organization’s new strategic plan.
Looking forward, said Dave Beeken, president of Eagle Windows and incoming WDMA chairman, efforts will focus on positioning WDMA to be a market-driven organization to lead in the advancement of the window, door and skylight industry by promoting the benefits and value of superior performing products. One of the key messages, he added, is that “window and doors matter.” As an association, it’s important to recognize that window and door manufacturers are not just competing against each other, but against other products, and that’s where WDMA’s efforts are key, he explained.

Hoiland emphasized that WDMA plans to be a “market-driven” organization, and not “marketing driven.” The emphasis will be on determining what the market and industry need, he said. “What is it that your customers want from the industry?” 

ADVOCACY EFFORTS
WDMA also plans to be nimble and ready to act on behalf of the industry. As an example of this, Hoiland pointed to recent efforts in the Minnesota legislature to pass a law requiring safety screens to prevent child falls from windows. WDMA has mobilized quickly with its members to educate the legislators involved, pointing out that such safety screens are not readily available on the market and that the introduction of such screens would present its own set of issues related to egress.

“Advocacy will be the lightning rod that will help us attract more members,” Beeken said. “It’s admirable to have a lot of members, but we feel it’s a lot more important to have the right members,” Hoiland noted. WDMA now represents many of the industry leaders, large companies with many of their own resources. “They may see value in membership from an advocacy basis, from the technical side, but a lot of smaller companies don’t have the same resources,” he added. One question WDMA still looks to answer, he said, is “What can we bring to them?” 

WDMA will continue to look at a number of issues to better serve the industry. Hackett noted that traditionally, the group has been divided up into a window division and a door division. It is now looking at dividing itself instead into an exterior division and an interior division. “We need to determine, does that make more sense?”

Meeting structure is another issue still being examined, noted Beeken, who emphasized that just about everyone agrees there is a need to add more content. “The goal is to have a meeting that everyone wants to be at. We’re going to get that done.”
Rick Kon of Masonite, incoming chair of the door division, noted that a lot of WDMA’s new plans will require money, and that means doing a better job both retaining and attracting new members. An important element in this effort will be to attract more and involve more suppliers in the association, he said.

With WDMA already representing many of the largest window and door manufacturers in North America, a number of panelists noted that continued consolidation within the industry is likely to strengthen the organization in the future.

GREEN AT TIPPING POINT
In addition to the business of the association, the 200 plus attendees heard from Harvey M. Bernstein, a vice president with McGraw-Hill Construction, who highlighted some of the big construction industry trends his organization sees going forward. Most noteworthy, he suggested, is that green building is gaining significant momentum, and he sees “2007 as the tipping point” for green building in the residential market. For the first time, he explained, the majority of builders now report that they are “involved” in green building.
Eagle Window’s Dave Beeken, left, WDMA’s incoming chairman, and Masonite’s Rick Kon, who heads the organization’s door division, reviewed specific topics to be addressed by WDMA as it implements its new strategic plan.
Jason Jennings, author of business bestsellers “Think Big, Act Small” and “It’s Not the Big that Eat the Small, It’s the Fast that Eat the Slow,” also reviewed some of the common attributes of the companies his organization found to have the most consistent growth. In interviews with executives from those companies, a list that includes Cabela’s, World Savings, Nucor and Commerce Bank, he found several common elements. First, they all shared a cause that had nothing to do with money. Not just a mission statement, “a cause provides purpose and fuels passion,” he said. A cause is central to building a company culture, which is “the ultimate competitive advantage.” The executives at these companies, he added, spend at least half their time on issues related to their company culture, he also noted.

Another important trait shared by these consistently growing companies is the realization that “satisfied customers leave.” As a result, Jennings stated, “They work to completely satisfy the right customer.” In other words, they define their market segment well and do not try to be all things to all people. Once they define “the right customers,” these organizations then set out to do everything they can to satisfy them.

Jennings concluded by focusing on the leaders of these organizations, Jennings said, describing them as “stewards,” and urging attendees to act as such at their own companies. The top executives at each of these companies are very humble and “stressed service over self-interest” and were willing “to abandon power and nurture it in others.” Specifically, he suggested, they were all willing to share information and keep no secrets within their organizations. They also were accessible to all and willing to get their hands dirty. Finally, Jennings said, “they stand for something,” and that usually reflects back to the company “cause.”

WDMA gathers again August 5-8 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay in Cambridge, MD. Information on that event, as well as upcoming technical committee meetings, is available at www.wdma.com.