In a changing industry, the value of membership remains
I recently had the pleasure of giving AHAM’s State of the Association address to many of the home appliance industry’s business leaders at Digital Destinations: AHAM’s annual member meeting. Our members are often surprised to hear that I’m in my eighteenth year of leading the association. So what keeps me coming back? The answer is simple: the industry is constantly changing. There’s always a new innovation, a legislative challenge to be met, a standard to develop. I enjoy change and have never needed to go elsewhere to experience it. I also enjoy being involved in the process that forges consensus among our member companies and helps guide them toward a collective goal.
More than 97 percent of AHAM’s regular members and 90 percent of our supplier members renewed their AHAM membership this year. That’s a high rate for any industry, but one that we’ve steadily experienced over the past several years. We’re also growing. Thirty-five companies have joined AHAM in the past 18 months, including several in our growing supplier division.
AHAM’s member companies have different specific reasons for joining and remaining members. But the broad reason is that even though they’re competitors, they’ve learned the value of working together to help create an environment that’s receptive to the products and innovations they develop. And our supplier members recognize the value of getting involved in AHAM standards activities and taking advantage of the opportunities we offer to interact with engineering and technical professionals from AHAM member companies.
The companies that are part of AHAM also recognize that our leadership isn’t just about defending the industry against the next harmful law or regulation. That will always be a big part of what we do, but we play a much broader role. When a company joins AHAM, they’re pooling their energies and resources with others to keep the path clear for innovation on all fronts.
The challenges and opportunities the industry faces are never simple, and often involve multiple years of sustained effort to reach our objectives. AHAM is a leading voice on many fronts, including:
Standards: AHAM’s special engineering task force has proposed 40 safety standards to UL and CSA, affecting a range of major and portable appliances. Of those, so far, 17 have been published.
Sustainability: We began to develop sustainability standards in 2010 to establish a credible system for retailers and others in the trade to compare the relative environmental impact of home appliances. So far, four of AHAM’s sustainability standards have been published, with more to come. Most of the standards will undergo an accreditation process to make them binational consensus standards.
Federal rulemaking reform: Given the significant efficiency gains manufacturers have made across all product categories, it’s clear that the Department of Energy’s system of automatically making revisions to efficiency standards every five years no longer works for the industry or consumers. AHAM and its member companies have begun a push to modernize the decision-making process and stop the automatic tightening of standards, which could threaten product performance if it continues. Accomplishing this will require Congress to pass a new law, and we’re helping to lead the advocacy effort.
Connectivity: We’re committed to helping our member companies meet the challenges and reap the benefits of the new wave of connected appliances. AHAM is bringing business leaders together to develop a high-value path forward and identify leadership opportunities at its Connectivity Summit this summer.
Extended producer responsibility: AHAM continues to be one of the leading voices against harmful “extended producer responsibility” bills aimed at manufacturers at the state level. These pieces of legislation aim to hand manufacturers the bill for the recycling and disposal of packaging and appliances. AHAM and a special summit of business leaders from member companies recently commissioned a major study of the economic impact of the product end-of-life chain, which will inform our advocacy strategy as more states and provinces explore EPR.
All of these initiatives are making an impact because of the strong participation of our member volunteers in the U.S. and Canada, who repeatedly step up and bring their expertise to the table.
With our growing and diverse membership, AHAM is well-positioned to meet the challenges that arise and guide the industry as it continues to climb to new heights of innovation.