Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Top 5 Industry Groups

So what industry groups really hold the power? Which trade groups are the ones that are truly there for their members? Which groups are in place to only further their agendas? Well below, we take a crack at the 2nd Annual Top 5 Industry Groups a.k.a. The Power Poll. The difference this year, is I am only doing groups that were created for our industry and not oversight (so no NFRC or IECC on this one- saving that for a different post) So without further adieu….

#5 AAMA- Stunned huh? Yes I know I have taken my share of pot shots over the years at this group, but at the end of the day, they do work for their membership. In their defense, they have a goofy path to navigate in regards to their relationship with NFRC, so its hard to blame them for everything there. Bottom line is AAMA does work very hard for the commercial industry and really a heads up, if you are a commercial player and you are a member of WDMA and not AAMA, you really need to do some soul searching. It’s a shame that the AAMA/WDMA deal did not happen because it would of rid us of a group (WDMA) that has absolutely no conscience when it comes to commercial buildings. Regardless, AAMA deserves to be on the list no matter what the circumstance. (And considering I am not really well like there, I am sure that they are just thrilled with my endorsement!)

#4 National Glass Association (NGA)- If the AAMA one didn’t floor ya… then this one probably will. I struggled with this quite a bit because I have always been on the “window sticker and trade show” bandwagon. I guess I put them here based on overall potential. They have power by name, they have an audience and outlet and if they ever decide to really go for it, they could be strong. We saw some sparkles of that with the intense letter from NGA to NFRC a few meetings ago, but it really needs to be more consistent. Some of the issues that the membership wants covered take time and energy and just don’t go away with one flip of the pen. (NFRC, China as two) Still I have a feeling that folks like Rod Van Buskirk will not sit idly by going forward, as a focus seemingly is on the horizon. So for now, based on pure potential to represent their members and industry, #4 it is.

#3 Aluminum Extruders Council (AEC)- I write about Dr Tom Culp all the time and as the face and personality leading the charge for AEC, they really have a great guy. His task is huge since there are really people out there… seriously… who believe you can do a skyscraper in New York City using Vinyl. Yep. And sadly, there’s a bunch of people who actually ignore all of the things wrong with that concept and promote it. So Tom has his work cut out. But between him and the staff at AEC, they truly do take their members interest to heart. I have seen them work compromises on issues that looked impossible to bridge, and that is not an easy gig in the world of the trade org.

#2 IGMA- I gained a ton of respect for this group and their leader Margaret Webb over the past year. A few years ago I thought IGMA missed the boat in trying to slow the NFRC Titanic, but in reality, that boat was steaming on by no matter what anyone did. In the meantime I got to see first hand the pure fire and focus that IGMA has for its membership. They want to do right by the industry and not create scenarios to make money for themselves or for some testing agency. Their agenda is strong throughout and they have movers and shakers from all of top companies in our industry involved. Plus their Canadian roots are important since on many issues the Canadian way has proven to be better than what we do in the USA.

#1- Glass Association of North America (GANA)- Yes I know it’s a homer pick, but even taking myself out of it, this organization, when you study the facts is clearly deserving of this spot. They are the only group that is able to bring the true technical focus over so many different segments of our industry. They get tremendous and talented volunteers to work on programs that are meant for education of our industry. They are as easy to access as you can get. They have a great website that is a treasure trove of info and tons of manuals that are simply a must for anyone in this business. Plus they boast the best tech guy in the industry in Greg Carney. Membership fees are not in the stratosphere, they are affordable and clearly drawn. If they have a downfall its probably in the fact they try to be everything for everyone- a noble cause but impossible. But still I believe they try and do everything they can to meet their members needs- and at the end of the day isn’t that the goal?

Conclusion: There are a lot of companies that actually belong to all 5 of the above because all bring unique values. The key really going forward in our weird and wacky world is who will keep the overall best interests of the industry at the forefront? Who will step up and educate? Who will position their memberships to have the resources they need to survive in both a goofy and world economy? That’s what you want when you join a group like the above. I mean the shows and meetings at nice locales are great, but your trade groups are there for the reasons above. Everything else is gravy.

Elsewhere this week….

-- Last week I said I was depressed on gas going to $4- evidently in some places it has already. Ugh. Gee how about this idea, instead of wasting time, money and resources on what will be a loser law suit in this industry, why don’t we go after the Oil industry? Not like BP and the gang aren’t making record profits….

-- Just asking…. Is this another example of more companies competing with their customers? Tuesday PGT Windows announced a joint venture with glazier ASI of Indianapolis. And yes while the linked article states that it’s for the curtainwall ability, the fact remains that ASI is an installer and most likely PGT will be looking to sell this new arrangement to installers. The question really is- How can another installer be comfortable with this? ….especially if it’s the style of job ASI is famous for?

-- On USGNN there was a note on Rex Glass celebrating their 50th year in business. Congrats guys! Good company and always well run… and very true that they are dedicated to their customers- and that is a huge reason why they have done so well and continue to do so.

-- It’s March Madness baby… and considering my basketball picks have been terrible (see note below) I am scared to death to make picks public… but what the heck… my final 4… UNC (because my friend “E” would kill me at the next meeting I see her at) Kansas, Texas (cause you have to love the great state of Texas!) and Duke. Then I have Duke beating Kansas in the final… why you ask? Because I hate Duke and that will be precisely the reason they win it all. And if they lose in the first round and all my brackets get destroyed, I’ll actually be happy.

-- I was in Vegas last week and it was slower than normal. Even with the World of Concrete Show happening. Recent articles out, including one in the Financial Times have said that it’s been a tough 1st quarter there. Well at least I can say with my horrid basketball picks that I did my part in trying to stimulate the Vegas economy. Yeesh. (A special assist to the gangs at Louisville and UConn for helping this process along by laying eggs)

-- The highlite for me was seeing legendary professional Video Poker player Johnny Bigbucks. Yes it was a thrill to watch this guy dominate a machine during a huge Video Poker Tournament- where Johnny was going after the $20,000 first prize. Man oh man, I wish I woulda played more Nintendo as a kid. Anyway, I left before the tourney completed so not sure if he won, but after seeing Mike Eruzione in Fenruary and now Johnny B in March, nothing in April can top that.

Video of the week... to get you pumped for the NCAA Tournament... "One Shining Moment" from the year 2000 when the Mighty Spartans of Michigan State took home the title... (Note that the Sparty is Johnny Bigbucks favorite team)

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