Are You Getting to Know Your Elected Officials?

John G. Swanson
May 12, 2009
THE TALK... | Management

Survey Results as of 05/18/2009:

My company:

Does not see this as a high priority.

  

 

56%

Has been in touch with our elected officials for years.

  

 

24%

Has recently reached out to our elected officials.

  

 

16%

Is planning to contact our elected officials.

  

 

4%

Talking to Washington apparently isn't a high priority at most window and door industry companies.  I can't say I'm surprised.  Our survey results suggest some companies have been in touch for years, and perhaps a few more our making efforts to reach out to elected officials, but I wouldn't say the recent to-do with tax credit requirements has triggered any sort of movement within the industry.

Compared to 20 years ago, however, there is much more discussion about the impact of regulations coming down from Washington to our industry.  At its last meeting, the Window & Door Manufacturers Association talked about moving its next annual meeting to the Washington area and organizing visits to legislators along with regular association business. As noted, the Northeast Window & Door Association already organized such an event in April.

WDMA, the American Architectural Manufacturers Association and other groups have a long record of keeping an eye on code development, but now they clearly recognize that code groups aren't the only ones making decisions that impact the types and perhaps numbers of windows and doors sold.

Personally, I think the industry effort would be stronger if there was stronger agreement on what the types of products that should be sold are. Most of us would like to encourage the use of more high-performance products, but there is fairly wide spectrum of views on exactly what that means. Some would argue there should be a real push on that front, while others express concerns that we could price our products out of the market. 

Most would also argue that implementation of new programs should be fair.  The introduction of the 30/30 requirements in the midnight negotiations of the stimulus package clearly was not fair to some companies. And despite the fact that the tax incentives are probably going to translate into more window and door sales this year (and probably next year) than we would have seen otherwise, there's still significant resentment within the industry about what happened.

As one reader noted in an email, "The automotive companies have pussy-footed around the efficiency and pollution deadlines for over 30 years, and they still get government allowances. But the window and door industry are expected to toe the line without any breathing space."

Our industry certainly hasn't "pussy-footed" around for the last 30 years when it comes to delivering better performing products.  I'm proud of that.  And I don't expect we'll do so for the next 30 years.  I do think, however, there's something to be said about speaking up more with our representatives in Washington.  A little more "breathing space" isn't too much to ask for.

 

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