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issue: August 2004 APPLIANCE Magazine

Guest Editorial
A Year of Impact

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by Ian Stewart Farwell, chairman, GAMA, and executive vice president and COO, Rheem Manufacturing Company

Earlier this year, I was honored by the members of GAMA when they elected me chairman of the distinguished, 69-year-old organization. GAMA is the national trade association representing U.S. manufacturers of appliances, components, and related products used in space heating, water heating, commercial foodservice, and power generation.

I have been asked to serve for the 2004-2005 term, and my objective is to work with the GAMA staff to make this a year of impact for our members. By “a year of impact,” I mean a year of precisely focused effort to make a positive difference for manufacturers.

My own company achieves success by utilizing economies of scale and leveraging the influence that a great corporation brings to any discussion. Through GAMA, I plan to harness the power of our more than 200 member companies and level the playing field for the manufacturing sector of our economy so that it can continue to bring high-quality, safe, and affordable products to consumers.

To produce this impact, we have to identify the critical forces that impede manufacturers today, and through leveraging the power of industry consensus, bring about much-needed changes. One way we will do this is by targeting issues in U.S. Congress and government agencies that affect the climate in which we must do business—issues that affect the costs of doing business, such as legal reform, employer-provided health care costs, and energy prices and supply shortages. These are wounds on the U.S. economy, and they aren’t going to go away—they’re going to fester until they are addressed head-on. The political bickering that has delayed finding solutions to these problems has to be set aside, not merely for the good of our industries, but for the good of our country as well. While I am at GAMA’s helm, I’m going to make sure that GAMA keeps the pressure on our elected and appointed officials to fulfill their responsibilities by making some difficult but necessary decisions.

GAMA will continue to ensure the safety and efficiency of our industries’ products through testing and expanded product certification programs. In order to give testing and certification information the widest possible audience, GAMA is in the final stages of making it instantaneously available via the Internet to consumers and regulatory agencies. To make sure that consumers understand the value of product certification, we are developing public information programs for distribution through the media. Of course, GAMA represents manufacturers large and small, but our member companies want consumers to be educated about products so that they can make informed choices. In the end, both consumers and our members will benefit.

GAMA has a proud tradition of promoting the interests of both the space- and water-heating equipment manufacturing industries and their consumers. U.S. federal and state regulatory agencies already seek out GAMA for the most accurate and timely information because GAMA has established itself as the go-to source for the industries we represent. I intend to see that GAMA stays nimble to meet our members’ future needs. We’ll do this by using tools and methodologies we have set in place—state-of-the-art information systems, a highly qualified staff, and the know-how to use those assets to extend our reach into new markets and emerging technologies.

And expanding, we are. Just last year, GAMA added a new Power Generation Division, whose scope encompasses fuel cells, micro turbines, Stirling engines, and other technological advances. This year, GAMA is expanding its activities into the international arena with the opening of a GAMA office in Beijing to promote the interests of our members in the exciting China market.

At the same time, I have no illusions about the future for our industries. From manufacturers to distributors to contractors, installers, and technicians, we will face challenges during the next year that will test our wisdom and our mettle. But with a laser-sharp focus on those challenges and a judicious use of the tools we have at hand, I have complete confidence that we will make this the year of impact—and that is going to empower all the segments of our industries like never before.


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