Merger with GANA Discussed at IGMA Conference

By Katy Devlin, Glass Magazine
February 9, 2009
Meetings & Events

The Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance Annual Conference kicked off Feb. 3 in San Diego with an update of the organization’s possible merger with the Glass Association of North America. The motivation for the proposed merger is to: consolidate advocacy efforts, consolidate industry technical expertise and resources, provide joint marketing efforts and reduce duplicate efforts, said Margaret Webb, IGMA executive director. Additionally, a merger would create an association with all glass products under one umbrella, and provide members with one membership fee.

The associations first announced the possible merger on the last day of the GANA Fall Conference last September. Under the terms of the proposed merger, IGMA would take over the Insulating Glass Division of GANA, focusing on certification, technical development and research. IGMA would retain its board of directors, with two members representing the group on the GANA board. Marketing and education activities would be handled by GANA.

Webb presented the timeline for merger considerations and discussed some IGMA member concerns about the proposed merger, based on results of a 2008 membership survey.

Things will be “business as usual” for both associations for 2009 and 2010, with a ballot likely ready for the IGMA membership vote by late 2010, Webb said. IGMA’s membership will vote on the merger proposal. “Because a merger would be a legal change in IGMA, it has to go to the membership,” Webb said. GANA officials are verifying with legal counsel as to whether a vote will be required by the GANA membership.

Webb and Bill Yanek, GANA executive vice president, met and outlined milestones for the groups to reach throughout the next two years. Most notably, the groups will establish two joint task groups to head the proposal; and to oversee finances, perform ample due diligence to exchange information and learn the interworking of each organization, and draft the merger proposal, Webb explained.

Additionally, the groups will set a communication schedule to exchange information between the organizations and to disseminate information to members. “We want you to know what’s going on, and we want your input,” Webb said.

IGMA members raised several major issues in the 2008 survey. Some members said they were concerned that IGMA would not sustain its Canada/United States balance as part of GANA. While IGMA’s membership is split evenly between the countries, GANA’s membership is primarily from the United States.

Members also worried about the potential loss of balance between the residential and commercial markets. IGMA’s activities and membership are evenly divided between the segments; GANA operates primarily in the commercial market. Webb added that members also expressed concern about the possible influence of GANA’s flat glass manufacturer members on IGMA activities.

During the IGMA meeting, attendees offered additional concerns and comments. Ken Brendan, technical standards manager for the American Architectural Manufacturers Association, asked whether the merger would slow down progress of IGMA activities. “IGMA is able to move through things quickly. There’s the possibility of retardation of IGMA processes in a bigger organization,” he said.

Jean Tremblay, executive vice president for AIPVFQ, the Quebec glass and window association, questioned whether IGMA members, GANA members and the industry would benefit from the merger. “Why do we need to be Walmart, selling everything to everyone,” he said. The effectiveness of IGMA may be lost in an association with such a large industry scope, he added.

Webb and Greg Carney, GANA technical director, addressed many of the concerns during the meeting and emphasized that they wanted to do what was best for the industry and for each of the associations, whether that means merging or remaining separate. “The merger needs to be a win-win for this to work out,” Webb pointed out.

GANA is not going into the discussions with "a set objective," Carney added. "We have an objective to strengthen the industry. … We feel [a merger] is worth investigating. … If we find it’s not the best option for the industry, we won’t do it, and will continue to wear our separate hats to our meetings and work together as we have been.”