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issue: September 2005 APPLIANCE Magazine

Guest Editorial
AHAM's Global Perspective


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by Liston P. Durden, senior vice president of Marketing, Viking Range Corporation, and chair, AHAM board of directors

A year ago in this space, I mentioned that the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) was updating its strategic plan in order to refresh the blueprint for making sure the association remains vital in this industry’s desire to serve customers and provide value. One important element of AHAM’s revised plan is the association’s need to focus on growth, just as its members do.

AHAM has grown in recent years, most notably with the addition of the Floor Care Division, through the merger of the Vacuum Cleaner Manufacturers Association. This organizational step has provided additional value to the vacuum and extractor industry, and it has made AHAM more effective too. AHAM will continue to search for ways to serve its members as the home appliance industry continues to evolve.

The truth is the home appliance industry is in a dynamic state in terms of the markets, manufacturing, and the policy and technical issues that drive the agenda at AHAM. As we strive individually as manufacturers, and collectively as an industry, to make progress in these areas, it’s also exciting to note that the concept of a home appliance is dynamic as well. In the case of major home appliances, our customers are looking beyond the traditional kitchen for a place to enjoy the features, design, and technology of their appliances. Decks and patios have become an important entertainment and family area where people want to enjoy the benefits of appliances, which more and more include not only function and performance, but design and beauty, too.

The trend is also there in portable appliances, such as kitchen electrics and personal care products, and in floor care with a host of new performance factors. Customers are very interested in how AHAM products complement their busy lifestyles and demonstrate a renewed interest in how home appliances can improve their home life quality.

Of course, at AHAM, we pool our resources to focus on those issues and information needs that help the industry make informed decisions that greatly impact the design and manufacture of appliances. AHAM has responded in a number of ways to the dynamic nature of our industry in terms of its increasingly global nature and the evolution of its products. As new challenges unfold, AHAM wants to be continually ready to help address industry concerns.

For example, AHAM clarified last year that home appliances include not just products originally intended for in-home use, but also those products that have migrated outside the house. This year, we are adding cooking ventilation products and outdoor gas grills to our product shipment data programs so that manufacturers can benefit from reliable data reports for important decisions. In the technical area, member companies, through AHAM, are making sure that relevant performance standards, test procedures, and energy-use criteria take account of technological developments in our products.

It’s certainly a challenge to serve the needs of all customers in such a globally competitive landscape, and one that is filled with numerous technical and public policy drivers. Perhaps 2005, like no previous year, has shown more facets of this industry’s global nature. There really are very few issues on the front burner at AHAM that do not have some global aspect to them.

Although AHAM’s primary focus is on regulatory issues in the U.S., it has found increasing interest by members of all sizes in the public policy trends in other countries. For example, there was recently an overwhelming interest in an AHAM forum on the implementation issues surrounding the European Union’s Electrical and Electronic Waste (WEEE) Directive and its Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive. And while the U.S. government is taking a different approach on global climate change than most European governments, AHAM and its manufacturers must be prepared to deal with the resulting trade implications of environmental policies adopted by important appliance market countries.

From a globalization perspective, AHAM continues its leadership role in maintaining the viability and value of U.S.-style products in the global product standards arena. We are also working with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission as it steps up efforts with its counterpart government agencies in other countries, including China. The goal is not only to compare product safety requirements, but also to focus on developing a culture of safety in the burgeoning manufacturing sector. They view AHAM and its members as an important resource for educating this growing number of consumer product manufacturers and the U.S. retailers with which they work.

 

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