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issue: October 2006 APPLIANCE Magazine

Guest Editorial
Consensus is Key to Advancing Our Industries

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by GAMA Chairman William S. Rafferty, executive vice president, Mestek, Inc.

I am honored to take the reins as chairman of the Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association (GAMA) for 2006-2007. Our previous chairman, Tom Huntington of York International, served us with great judgment and leadership, and he will be a tough act to follow.

In last year’s message to the membership Tom spoke about GAMA’s increasing international activities. This will remain an area of focus as our industry’s future opportunities will be increasingly global in scope. GAMA’s office in China is working to promote harmonized product standards to the benefit of all of our members. In addition to this activity, GAMA hopes to develop better liaison with industry associations similar to GAMA in other parts of the world. A better understanding of other markets for heating equipment and the technologies and standards employed can only be of benefit to our industry’s future.
Last September 2005, Jack Klimp joined us as the new president of GAMA. After Jack’s arrival, we went through a strategic planning process to review GAMA’s mission, values and vision for the future. The result was a clearer understanding that GAMA’s mission is to:
Provide its members quality services through representation, education, advocacy, and administration of pro-grams to the members’ benefit and the advancement of their
GAMA has been very successful in accomplishing this mission and representing our interests. It’s the last of these points (advancement of their industries) that I would like to
expand on.
On the domestic front, we are in interesting times. The federal Department of Energy (DOE) is being challenged to make better progress on efficiency standards rulemakings. Frustrated by a perceived lack of progress, environmental groups are focusing their attention at the state level to advance their agenda. In response, many states are now passing legislation attempting to circumvent DOE efficiency regulations, which could lead to a potential patchwork of standards varying from state to state. The same is true on other issues. Some states are passing legislation requiring additional measures to enhance safety, as well as reduce emissions. While all well-intentioned, these disparate efforts may not produce the “best” results for our industry or country.
I think it’s fair to say that many of the stakeholders on these issues have a tendency to be somewhat myopic in their approach. They will focus on only their one core issue with little regard for the other implications of their position. Issues such as efficiency, emissions, safety, reliability, etc., are all interrelated and cannot be considered without regard to the others. In the current environment, a collective judgment is rarely pursued to advance the interests of all.
A different approach based on building consensus among the stakeholders may be more effective in producing more balanced and informed results. It is incumbent on our association to be part of the solution. While it is not the way the system has often worked in the past, we should try to reach out to all stakeholders and see if consensus building is possible.
This attempt at providing leadership by building consensus with the other stakeholders on these issues will, at times, not be easy. After all, building consensus among ourselves can be challenging. It will require that we, as members of GAMA, be willing to think beyond our most immediate interests and look at issues with a longer-term view. While there are no guarantees that this approach will work, it can only further enhance GAMA’s reputation for competence and credibility as a highly effective trade association.

Suppliers mentioned in this article:
Mestek Inc.

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