KNoCKING BY SuSaN BeSze WallaCe
hey know of burls and butt joints and bev- Windows to the Past
eled edges; the intricacies of dormers and read the histories of many window and door companies
drip caps and diffusing glass. Members of and you’ll practically be able to feel the wind flutter-
the Window & Door Manufacturers Associa- ing flags on Main Street. Many entrepreneurs in the
tion deal in the currency of craftsmanship and architec- early 1900s created businesses or products that would
tural nuance. sustain their small towns, keep people employed and
But new entries are being added to the group’s glos- pay homage to the hard-working patriarchs who had laid
sary. “Chatter” isn’t just the unseemly lines across a their foundations. In this era of corporate giants, many
poorly sanded door; it’s what one has to do to have an — if not most — window and door companies still are
impact on EnErgy StAr requirements. A “quarrel” privately held with family involvement.
isn’t just a diamond, or square-shaped piece of glass For example, Loewen, founded by the son of russian
set diagonally; it’s what can happen when environmen- immigrants, made humble products like beekeeping
tal groups and industry clash over policy. “Hit-and- equipment and church pews in the early 1900s before
miss” isn’t just a kind of window; it’s what can happen becoming preeminent in the luxury wood door and win-
if you show up unannounced to a legislator’s office. dow market.
In 2009, WDMA launched an effort that unites its Andersen Windows and Doors’ roots were planted in
members’ voices in hopes of influencing lawmakers and 1903 when Danish immigrant Hans Andersen set up
policies to change the way they do business. the One shop in Hudson, Wis., where logs arrived via the St.
Voice™ Advocacy Program was born out of necessity as Croix river. During the great Depression when a factory
an increasing federal regulatory environment brushed up was temporarily shuttered, Andersen kept employees
against the harshest economic climate in decades. working by having them plant trees. today, Andersen
“there’s an old saying in advocacy that if you Corp. employs more than 9,000 people at 20-plus
don’t have a seat at the table, you’re going to be on locations that manufacture more than 6 million wood
the menu,” says WDMA President and CEO Michael windows and doors each year.
O’Brien, CAE. “that’s what was happening. Others were Marvin Lumber and Cedar manufactured butter
deciding how windows, doors and skylights were going boxes and ammunition during World War II. After the
to be built.” war, William Marvin focused on producing windows as
the association and the OneVoice Advocacy effort a way to keep returning servicemen in Warroad, Minn.
have grown during challenging times, proving “impact” Profit-sharing first came in bags of silver dollars, and
no longer refers just to how much force a pane of glass two major factory fires didn’t prevent Marvin Windows
or plank of wood can take, but what an industry of and Doors from becoming the largest made-to-order
competitors can create with shared goals and the right wood window and door manufacturer in the world.
strategy. “this industry started as a handcrafted product
April 2011 Forum 11
where the railroads went and where the forests were concen- Miels, president of Oshkosh Door. “But in the economy we’re
trated,” says Steve tourek, senior vice president and general in, especially in the construction industry, you really have to
counsel for Marvin. “All of our plants are still located in small look at their value, at where you spend your dollars from a
rural communities where we’re the dominant employer.” business standpoint.”
Although the economy has ravaged the industry, tourek
says, Marvin hasn’t laid off anyone. rather, it has chosen to Growing Panes
forego profits and income in alignment with corporate values. Wood definitely was the group’s past, but not its only future.
It was that type of ideal that drew together Marvin and While windows and doors once were a purely utilitarian means
like-minded companies in 1927. they created the national to provide access while blocking water and bugs, these ele-
Door Manufacturers Association to hold themselves to a ments have far greater aesthetic and efficiency functions
higher standard — and to actually formalize and promulgate today. It’s a fact you can feel by standing next to a single-
that standard. In 1949, a new name helped the national pane window in winter. An estimated 1 billion such windows
Woodwork Manufacturers Association better represent its remain in older homes, a major source of heat escape and a
members’ products. the evolution continued and the name significant energy drain.
changed again in 1985 to the national Wood Window & Door replacing those windows is a personal choice that both
Association. A few years later, WDMA embraced its current environmental groups and WDMA encourage. WDMA, while
moniker to reflect the increasing diversity in manufacturing readily admitting its members want to sell as many windows
materials. and doors as possible, wants to promote energy-efficient inno-
today, 150 leading manufacturers and suppliers of win- vations and standards that create windows middle-income
dows, skylights and doors are WDMA members. the trade Americans can afford. Other interests back technological
association has a $1.6 million budget and four full-time and advances, such as triple-pane glazing, that can present cost
three part-time employees in two states, thanks to procuring and installation challenges.
the flexible resources of SmithBucklin, the world’s largest retrofitting windows has kept the industry alive during the
association management company, in 2008. severe downturn in new construction. It’s a way to change
For much of its existence, WDMA had been focused one’s living environment and save energy costs — spending
inward, developing technical standards and certification for money to save money. Historically, WDMA’s members have
the structural integrity and energy efficiency of windows, individually focused on building codes with a more reaction-
doors and skylights. ary stance; national energy policy wasn’t a paramount issue,
“I’m a strong believer in trade associations,” says gene let alone a collective concern.
JELD-WEN Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer Ron Saxton, WDMA’s legislative chairman, meets with other WDMA members during WDMA’s inaugural legislative conference in 2010.
12 Forum April 2011
But in an era of hyper-regulatory activity, interest in win-
dows and doors is no longer just WDMA’s purview. EnErgy 2011 Tax Credit for Windows
StAr, the promotional program for energy-efficient products and Doors
and practices introduced in the 1990s by the Environmental
Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, began • How much: 10 percent of the cost (not including
to change the habits of consumers and producers of windows, installation and labor costs), up to $200 for win-
doors and skylights. dows and skylights; up to $500 for doors.
In early 2009, as a much-anticipated stimulus bill made • timing: tax credit in effect in 2011. Must be
its way through Congress, there was a tax credit inserted for installed in your “principal residence” between
the purchase of energy-efficient doors, windows and skylights. Jan. 1, 2011, and Dec. 31, 2011.
At nearly the last minute, the qualifying criteria for such • Qualifications: Must be EnErgy StAr quali-
products was changed. Skylights couldn’t meet it, it was less fied. you do not have to replace all windows,
than the door standard already in place, and — as applied to doors and skylights in your home to qualify. And
windows in contrasting weather regions of the country — the it doesn’t need to be a replacement, either —
standard just didn’t make sense, O’Brien says. installing a new window where previously there
“It was a wake-up call to the industry,” he says. “If we wasn’t one (i.e., in an addition) qualifies.
were more organized at that point, folks on ‘the Hill’ would • Find qualified models: Look for the EnErgy
have come to us and said, ‘Can you help us cut the cost of StAr label.
this tax credit?’ that didn’t happen.” • How to apply: File tax Form 5695 with your tax
By the time the industry worked legislation back through return.
the system, the tax credit was on the verge of expiring. Fed- For more information, including previous years’ tax
eral tax credits for windows and doors have been extended credit details, visit www.energystar.gov.
through 2011, though at a lower rate, with EnErgy StAr
qualification as the standard.
“We have, in effect, had a silent partner step into our consequences of the tinkerers,” tourek says. “In an effort to
organization, and it’s the federal government,” says tourek, improve one thing, sometimes another is impacted. none of
former WDMA board chairman. “Most of our companies are us lives in isolation.”
private. It’s like, `Let us create jobs and make windows and
stay as far away from what happens in Washington, D.C., as Doors to the Future
possible.’ that’s not the Heartland.” the first step in having OneVoice was deciding what that
At that point, JELD-WEn, an Oregon-based window and voice would say. Less than a year after getting caught off
door giant employing more than 20,000 people worldwide, guard by stimulus standards, WDMA established a national
had never made a political contribution, says JELD-WEn policy agenda for the industry, “a blueprint so as not to get
Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer ron whipsawed any time a new regulation came up,” O’Brien
Saxton. He says the industry’s lack of a collective advocacy says. “Finally we’d know exactly where we should be going on
arm represents its fear of the unknown. an issue when it’s proposed.”
“the emergence of energy policies is so important,” says Existing dollars were used to support OneVoice; associa-
Saxton, who worked with associations for 25 years in private tion dues didn’t increase. Smaller companies didn’t have the
law practice. “you don’t choose whether you’re involved. resources for any advocacy, and even the big ones lacked the
What happens in Washington, D.C., is going to impact us.” resources to make a difference.
Member companies embraced two realizations: the need “If you have no history of doing it, advocacy can seem
to participate in the political process and the inability to do like an abstract concept to a lot of organizations,” O’Brien
so on their own. says. “It’s not like putting on a meeting or publishing a
“It became clear we needed to prevent the unintended journal. It’s a program to advance, and that can seem amor-
phous. there are lots of legs to the stool.”
O’Brien says the process and particulars of the formation
of WDMA’s policy agenda can be extrapolated for other asso-
• Focus on primary issues. Don’t get sidetracked trying
to address too much and don’t be overly specific, as in
opposing a certain piece of legislation.
• Be transparent. Develop your policy agenda in the open,
with as much committee input as possible, but work vigor-
ously with a timeline in mind.
• Once created, don’t view your policy agenda as a static
April 2011 Forum 13
“When things are tough — and it’s not just unique to our group
— members look at the value they are getting out of an associ-
ation... We can’t do everything, but the direction the board set
was clear. We needed to be more active in advocacy.”
document. Distribute it to the media, legislators and any- learning about cultivating relationships with lawmakers and
one who needs to know what your group stands for. then set out to find them and communicate their issues.
Other components of the OneVoice program include rarely was it a straight shot.
biweekly updates to members and a Legislative Action Center “Many of our members hadn’t been to Washington, D.C.,
available on the group’s website that connects members with like this,” says WDMA Legislative Affairs Director Colleen
the media in their area, provides guidance for communicat- Levine, who helped prep members with tips and talking
ing with lawmakers via phone or letter, and advises “action points. “they met with [legislative] staffers, many of whom
alerts” when an issue is at a critical juncture. are very young and dealing with a dozen items at a time. you
WDMA’s Washington, D.C., office, also fortified by Smith- learn that something monumental to you is but one tiny piece
Bucklin’s resources, opened in 2009, just 2.2 miles from the to them.”
U.S. Capitol. Part of formulating WDMA’s emergence in advo- Steve Sisson, vice president and general manager of
cacy was knowing where its members were — not just the Karona, an architectural door manufacturer employing
Midwest concentration of member companies’ headquarters, approximately 100 people, was among those whose eyes were
but also their manufacturing plants and other facilities. opened.
“When you’re talking to a member of Congress and want “It was helpful to see the bigger picture of what our gov-
them to introduce something, they’ll be far more likely to be ernment is working on and learn how to carve what you need
interested if you have a presence in their district,” O’Brien into the bigger issues,” says Sisson, who grew up shadowing
says. his dad, the founder of grand rapids, Mich.-based Karona.
With policy in hand and concentrations of constituents “We were told not to talk down to ‘the kids’ and they were
mapped out, WDMA members took to the halls of Congress right. those young staffers are very important gatekeepers.”
during WDMA’s first Legislative Conference in early 2010. Miels was scheduled to meet with a staffer for U.S. rep.
Leaders from 50 WDMA member companies spent a day tom Petri (r-Wis.) when the 17-term congressman emerged
from his office, invited Miels in and conversed for 45 min-
utes. two weeks later, Petri toured the Oshkosh Doors plant
back home. Miels calls the interaction “fantastic” and says a
What’s a u-Factor? bridge of trust was created, thanks to the legislative confer-
the U-factor measures how well a product prevents heat ence.
from escaping: the lower the rate, the lower the amount “[Petri] said it had been 20 years since he’d been in
of heat loss. A U-factor rating generally falls between a door plant,” Miels says. “I’ve talked to him since about
0.20 and 1.20 and is included in the energy perfor- health care policy and other things.
mance rating (label) offered by the national Fenestration “It was an important step for WDMA to show me and my
rating Council. company that us being part of the association and the process
is important. there are a number of other associations we’ve
14 Forum April 2011
chosen to stop our involvement with. If there is an upside to
this whole economic scenario, it’s exactly that: you take the about WDma
waste out. It’s amazing what people come up with when you Founded in 1927, the Window & Door Manufactur-
need to.” ers Association is the premier trade association rep-
For Sisson and Miels, code changes for interior fire doors resenting the leading manufacturers of residential
are of current interest. In new york City, for example, a hotel and commercial window, door and skylight products
door must have a “90-minute” rating, standing intact that for the domestic and export markets. WDMA mem-
long during thermal shock and fire hose pressure, whereas bers are focused on total Product Performance™
other doors have “20-minute” ratings. Most OneVoice legis- products that are designed and built to perfor-
lative activity focuses on exterior doors and windows — for mance-based standards. the association is focused
now. on key member needs in the areas of advocacy,
“But taxes, OSHA stuff… that affects us all,” says Sis- product performance, education and information
son. His position as board chair alternates between a member and facilitating business interactions and relation-
whose company focuses on windows and one whose focus is ships in the fenestration ecosystem. (Fenestration
on doors, which is one way WDMA seeks to cater to all mem- is any opening in a building’s envelope, including
bers. windows, doors and skylights.) For information, visit
the second WDMA legislative conference was scheduled www.wdma.com.
for March at press time.
“It’s like riding a bike. Scary, but when you figure it out,
it’s fun,” says Saxton, who has made two gubernatorial bids door and skylight manufacturing sector since 2004.
in Oregon. “People were nervous, but at the end of the two “When things are tough — and it’s not just unique to our
days, they were bubbly. there’s nothing very controversial group — members look at the value they are getting out of
about doors and windows. We’re proud of our industry... good an association,” O’Brien says. “We can’t do everything, but
wages, good products, oriented toward being good to employ- the direction the board set was clear. We needed to be more
ees... it’s a good story to tell.” active in advocacy.”
O’Brien says OneVoice is poised “for the long haul.” He Progress in this realm isn’t usually statistical; education,
tells members: “Congress wants to hear from you, not me. awareness and attitudes are hard to quantify.
I know you are busy running corporations, but you need to “We got a bunch of blank stares in the beginning. Any
be engaged in the process when you are employing people time you change the focus of an association, it’s hard for peo-
and providing money to the economy. you have an important ple to immediately grasp what you’re doing. We have to make
voice.” sure folks know we are doing our core services, too,” O’Brien
says. “there was some hand-holding, but a lot of them have
making an entrance really gotten into it and even enjoy it. I knew that would come
Someone said they’re going to pass a law. Did you hear what in time, but it happened faster than I thought: happy lesson.”
they’re talking about in California? Is it true someone intro- Saxton says the group’s entrance into advocacy will hope-
duced a bill having to do with kids falling out of windows? fully reverberate in other ways, too.
When WDMA members get wind of something afoot in the “WDMA has gone from a narrow focus of specialized,
industry today, their association has a way to pool energies technical issues to networking opportunities,” Saxton says.
and information and respond to initiatives all over the coun- “We’re seeing that by working together, we can accomplish a
try. the group’s next step is forming a political action com- lot… even as competitors.”
mittee — a first for the group and the industry, and difficult
given current economic realities. susan Besze Wallace is a freelance writer living in northern Virginia. She may
WDMA also is involved in a lawsuit involving lead rules set be reached at email@example.com.
by the EPA. At issue is how stringent new requirements need
to be when lead-based paint is stirred up during a renovation.
WDMA believes current requirements go beyond protecting
tHe May 2011 signature story features the Healthcare Information and
residents to actually discouraging the replacement of windows Management Systems Society and its comprehensive effort to educate its
and doors. members on new federal regulations for adopting and using electronic health
the housing crisis has had a significant impact on WDMA records to help lower costs and improve the quality of medical care. HIMSS
member companies; even a WDMA board member was a promotes information and management systems’ contributions to improving
the quality, safety, access and cost-effectiveness of health care. Founded
casualty of his company’s consolidation. national unemploy-
50 years ago, HIMSS represents more than 30,000 members, a majority of
ment was 9.1 percent at the end of 2010, according to the whom work for health care providers, government and nonprofit organiza-
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, but unemployment for the tions. HIMSS’ membership also includes more than 470 corporations and
construction and building products industries was nearly dou- 85 nonprofits.
ble that. WDMA reports a 33 percent job loss for the window,
April 2011 Forum 15