FMA Conference Gathers Industry in Florida

May 1, 2012
Meetings & Events

Pensacola, Fla.—With code and regulation updates, an overview of the current state of the industry and a look ahead at trends that will drive the industry in the longer term, particularly in the Southeast, the Fenestration Manufacturers Association covered a lot of ground at its Spring Conference at the end of April.  A healthy mix of suppliers, manufacturers, dealers and industry experts gathered for the event here, which also included a series of roundtable discussions, supplier showcase event and association business.

“The information that was provided was timely,” said Dick Wilhelm, FMA’s executive director. “It fit with what his happening in today's market and the issues that are on the horizon that will affect manufacturers' and suppliers' businesses.”

STANDARDS UPDATE
In recent years, FMA has worked in conjunction with the American Architectural Manufacturers Association and the Window and Door Manufacturers Association to develop consensus-based protocols for installing window and door products into various types of building walls to meet the specific challenges that come with construction in extreme wind and water conditions. The association continues its work with additional testing and standards development, reported Jim Katsaros, DuPont, who heads FMA’s installation committee. FMA/AAMA/WDMA 300, a standard for installing exterior doors in wood-frame construction, is likely to be completed this year, and FMA/AAMA/WDMA 400, a standard that aims to address exterior doors installed with a surface barrier in masonry contruction, is in the first draft stage, he noted.

FMA is also aiming to stretch out into other areas of standards writing, as well, Katsaros sated. As more stringent energy efficiency requirements seep into construction requirements, FMA is beginning to look at the proper integration of exterior rigid foam insulation and how that affects window installation and the building envelope as a whole. “We now have a national focus,” Katsaros added. “This is more of a Northern climate issue.”

Eventually, the association hopes to begin work on standards for replacement window and door projects in extreme weather regions. The current standards address new construction installation, Katsaros stated, but best practices for replacing windows in hurricane regions is an important next step for industry organizations to address.

KEEPING INFORMED
As FMA’s primary focus is the Southeast region, with Florida as the epicenter and stretching out to other coastal areas prone to extreme weather conditions, its annual meetings aim to update participants on the quickly-evolving and always-changing codes and regulations faced by those doing business in these areas. Jon Hill of Keystone Certifications and John McFee of Hallmark Certifications gave attendees a detailed overview of changes in testing and certification requirements, as well as requirements for product approval and various incentive programs that are likely to affect those doing business in the Southeast.

While some of the updates were region-specific, including an update on ASCE 7-10 wind load design and building department plans by Doug Harvey of the Building Officials Association of Florida, other updates had a more national application. Jeff Inks, WDMA’s government affairs official, gave an extensive overview of current and potential government programs in Washington, and explored how these decisions can affect the bottom line for window manufacturers and suppliers.

LOOKING AHEAD
The conference included two roundtable discussions to allow participants to explore pertinent topics that affect the industry. These included a discussion about the current state of the industry and how things have changed compared to the pre-downturn market, and another about how manufacturers and suppliers can forge stronger relationships when doing business.

Christina Lewellen, Window & Door senior editor, wrapped up the conference with a look ahead, exploring with her presentation the underlying drivers that are likely to move the housing and home improvement industry in the coming decades. She highlighted the short-term growth in housing and window and door demand fueled by increasing consumer confidence and favorable affordability conditions. Looking further out, she pointed out that generational shifts—including Baby Boomers introducing significant amounts of housing into the marketplace as they transition to nursing homes, retirement communities, etc., and how the up-and-coming Echo Boomers (or Millennials), may not desire the type of housing the Baby Boomers are releasing into the market.

Long-term housing growth and household formation, she said, may be driven by the extent to which government policy makes homeownership a favorable proposition for future generations of buyers. “Future buyers will want homes that are closer to the city center and eco-friendly,” she noted. “This may provide our industry opportunity in the retrofit realm—especially for those companies that are well positioned to serve these types of buyers.”

RECOGNITION
At its closing-night awards dinner, FMA offered special recognition to its outgoing president Jim Krahn of Marvin Windows. Krahn, who serves as manager of codes and regulatory affairs for the Minnesota-based manufacturer, has been in the industry for more than 50 years and has been extensively involved in numerous industry associations and organizations, helping drive technical standards and best practices.

The association also recognized Jim Larsen of Cardinal Glass with the FMA Barry Hardman Achievement Award for his extensive involvement in keeping FMA members up-to-date on energy-related issues. Earlier in the conference, Larsen informed attendees about changes to the IECC and 2010 Florida energy codes.

FMA’s next meeting will be held in April 2013 in Naples, Fla. For more information, visit www.fmausaonline.org.