AAMA Meeting Continues--Global Competition a Hot Topic

Members of the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) reconvened in Marco Island, Fla., on Monday, for its annual meeting. The day kicked off with a presentation from Michael Collins of Jordan, Knauff and Co. based in Chicago. The room was packed for his seminar, "The Coming Wave of Competition from Chinese Window and Door Companies." (For more on this topic, see the January issue of Door and Window Manufacturer (DWM) magazine, a sister publication to USGlass, for a feature length article on this subject. Collins serves as a columnist and feature writer for DWM.)

Collins also shared insights from the door and window industry benchmark survey his firm conducted of which 23 companies participated. Collins gave attendees a glimpse into these findings (more on this can also be found in past issues of DWM).

Regarding China, Collins reported that it will surpass the United States this year as the number one exporter of manufactured goods. Additionally, Chinese companies are expected to export $1 billion in doors and windows in 2006. Exports had risen 50 percent versus the same period in 2005.

Collins told attendees that there are several big picture questions to ask themselves. These include:

∑ How many of my customers would find a way to order 6-8 weeks in advance if I offered them a 30-50 percent discount on my products?
∑ Even if Chinese companies don't enter my market segment, what will happen when the companies in the segments they do enter have to enter my segment to maintain growth and profitability?
∑ What will happen in a few years when the Chinese domestic market slows down and companies there begin to focus on exporting goods to keep their plants producing at full capacity?

He did point out that while China poses a threat, U.S. companies do have many advantages over their overseas counterparts. These include unparalleled research capabilities; the fact that Chinese patent applications are 1percent of those filed in the United States and Europe; and a shorter supply chain allows a whole range of competitive responses.

He reminded manufacturers to focus on the strength of the brand, and ensure that a motivated workforce is in place in order to compete effectively. He also said to consider hiring an outside consultant to help redesign the organization, spend as much time as possible interacting with distributors and end customers and train employees to cater to "tough customers."

"You can't get the same level of responsiveness from an overseas company," Collins said.

He also says manufacturers must embrace lean manufacturing to be more cost competitive, reduce complexity in product, have shorter lead times and eliminate labor wherever possible.

The Vinyl Material Council also met Monday, and Keith Christman of the Vinyl Institute reported on some new developments. This includes the launching of a new website--Vinyl News Services. The site, www.vinylnewsservice.net, will keep individuals up to date on vinyl issues in the United States, according to Christman. He also announced that the Vinyl Promotion Network will be held June 5-6 at the Ritz Carlton Cleveland Hotel.

"The VPN represents the common interest of the vinyl value chain and exists to help promote and define our industry. It will help us all to become stronger, more effective advocates for vinyl products and our industry," says Christman.

Much is going on in the word of vinyl this year as The World Vinyl Forum, held once every five years, will be held Sept 26-28 in Boston.

On the subject of PVC, Christman reported that California has approved the use of c-pvc pipe. "In this review, the state of California did a very good job of reviewing environmental issues," he said. "They found that the issues are not significant. The 427- page report went through all the issues raised by activists. It's something we can use to show third party validity to our claims about pvc usage."

The Joint Fenestration Sealants Guide Manual Task Group also met Monday and reported that it's work on the guide is almost complete. The final order of business is to finish the glossary--the last piece of the document. The entire document is available on the AAMA website. The group hopes to have the document complete by March.

Meetings continue today. Stay tuned to USGNN.comô for updates as they become available.