Until this year we would say that vacuum cleaners are not included in our product scope. Questioners seem surprised and quite honestly, many AHAM members involved in this product category questioned the logic. As the list of regulatory and technical issues impacting appliance manufacturers has multiplied, a number of vacuum cleaner manufacturers have urged AHAM to extend its issue management services to these products. The commonalities among manufacturers of vacuum cleaners and other home appliances are many, including the growing complexity of energy and environmental requirements, safety standards, the need for good market data and of course the supply chain and retail channels. While AHAM’s Floor Care Division is new, our involvement with the industry on a host of important matters has been ongoing.
So in January of this year, AHAM’s Board of Directors approved a change to the association’s bylaws that will allow manufacturers of floor care appliances to join AHAM in a newly created Floor Care Division. This step is significant for two reasons. The first is that it offers an important value proposition to manufacturers of floor care appliances. AHAM’s services will be available to assist these manufacturers. Our core areas of competence include technical-standards work, legislative and regulatory advocacy, market data and communications. Our professional staff has expertise in all these disciplines. They are dedicated solely to being the eyes, ears and advocates for appliance manufacturers. We are organized and staffed to deliver. Equally important, though, we are positioned to provide influence on emerging issues such as indoor air quality, standby power and product safety. These emerging issues and the pace of change in appliance manufacturing provide a strong rationale for an effective industry association.
Secondly, the move is an important implementation step in AHAM’s strategic plan to be the preferred association for the home appliance manufacturing industry. AHAM has made the transition to a modern and agile manufacturers association that can respond to the increasing demands on the time of business leaders. Our strategic plan is designed to capture our purpose and objectives in a format consistent with today’s business climate. Our members are fully focused on their own businesses and find it extremely difficult to keep up with, let alone influence, the myriad of industry-wide issues. We have therefore tailored our service delivery to make a difference in a very cost effective and timely fashion.
AHAM’s strategic plan also has a worldwide focus. Our counterpart associations in Europe, Japan, China, Canada and Mexico all include vacuum cleaners within their service scope. These associations participate with us in the Forum of Appliance Manufac-turing Associations begun by AHAM, which meets annually to share information and develop common strategies on emerging global issues important to appliance manufacturers. Vacuum cleaner manufacturers will benefit from this global reach.
The AHAM Board established a long term plan commencing with standards and regulatory work in 2003 expanding to a full range of trade association services thereafter. The synergies among vacuum cleaner manufacturers and our current membership, including our Supplier Division, are great. By adding floor care appliances to AHAM’s scope, we will more fully represent the home appliance industry. Our Board sees a natural evolution of this division into a full-service entity within AHAM. We will work with floor care appliance manufacturers during 2003 to respond to their needs and apprise them of the benefits of AHAM membership. The Floor Care segment of the home appliance industry includes full-size household vacuum cleaners, central vacuum systems, wet/dry vacuums and specialty machines, and is responsible for the annual production of nearly 20 million units.