EIMA 2003 wrap-up by Greg Campbell.

Marking a turning point in its history, the EIFS Industry Members Association took on a leaner organizational structure and refined its mission during its annual meeting in St. Petersburg, Fla., in February.

The changes come on the heels of one of the most challenging periods in the association’s history, which ended with the successful closure to costly litigation in Texas. But success came at a price, as weeks prior to the meeting, EIMA released technical services director Tom Wolf. The association’s board also voted to disband the association’s Marketing Committee as part of belt-tightening measures. While there are still many challenges ahead for the association, many are confident EIMA’s new streamlined organization will be able to meet those challenges effectively.

“Basically, we’re breaking down the organization and restructuring it,” explained Stephan Klamke, EIMA executive director. “We’ve taken this vertical organization and made it horizontal.”

As part of the association’s reorganization, the Technical Committee has rebanded as a Technical Advisory Committee consisting of eight specialized subcommittees. Those subcommittees will be focused on areas such as Product Guidelines, Codes, Design Criteria, Training and Application. Membership will be lean, with each subcommittee containing just three to five members.

“We really think we can work better with a leaner group of people,” explained Mike O’Brien of Rohm and Haas Co., committee chairman. “We feel the less people working on these groups, the more efficient they will be.”

Efficiency is key, as the association maintains a long list of objectives, the most important of which is maintaining EIMA’s American National Standards Institute accreditation as a standards writing organization. Continued involvement in building-codes development, industry research and outreach to related industry groups remain top priorities for the association.

“EIMA technical activities support the industry by developing consensus technical, training installation, and design standards for use by architects, designers, code bodies, and other technical associations,” emphasized the association’s new mission statement. “EIMA has committed to provide the gatekeeper audiences with a better process to design and specify building envelope construction through education and effective communication.”

“EIMA has a bright future but we also have things we need to accomplish,” said outgoing EIMA President Macon Lowe, of Sto Corp. “Most of us have gathered here because we know it’s a critical time in our history. We can do together what we can’t do individually.”

The availability of contractor insurance remains a key concern for the association, as attendees to this year’s meeting reported further reductions in coverage and sharply inflated rates for those carriers still underwriting EIFS work. Association of Wall and Ceiling Industries International Executive Director Steve Etkin provided an on update that association’s efforts to develop a insurance package, noting that most of the initial investment has been pledged, but that the search for a reinsurer continues.

On a positive note, EIMA’s legal counsel Peter Spanos announced the successful end to a spate of litigation in Texas that had targeted the association for the past two years. “Thank God the Texas litigation is over,” said Spanos, who won EIMA’s release from nine lawsuits that alleged EIMA was doing business in the state and was party to builder lawsuits involving EIFS. In all cases, EIMA successfully demonstrated the courts had no jurisdiction over the association, which is headquartered in Morrow, Ga. “The bottom line is, since 1995 EIMA has been sued 12 times, and EIMA has a 100 percent success rate,” noted Spanos.

EIMA paid tribute to three members for their involvement in association activities. Bill Preston of Dryvit was named EIMA Member of the Year. Sto’s Lowe and fire consultant Don Belles were both feted with special Industry Recognition awards.

EIMA’s next meeting will be held February 4-6, 2004, at Loews Coronado Bay Resort, Coronado, Calif.

By Greg Campbell