The Vacuum Cleaner Manufacturers Association (VCMA) electednew officers and members of its executive board during its annual membership meeting held at the Marriott Castle Harbor hotel here.
Dave Jones, president and chief executive of Regina, stepped down from his post as president of the VCMA. Patrick Dowling, group executive of Scott Fetzer, the parent company of Kirby & Douglass Quikut, is thenew president of the VCMA. Previously, Dowling served as vice president of the association.
Bob Riddell, vice president of marketing for Hoover, has been elected vice president of the association. Scott Bolbock, assistant to the president for Eureka, is the new treasurer.
“The departure of our treasurer Greg McManus (who left Matsushita’s Floor Care Division to join KitchenAid two months ago) left this election a little more open than in the past,” noted Cliff Wood, executive secretary for the VCMA. “But new officers are familiar with the workigns of the VCMA. Bob (Riddell) has served on the executive board, while Scott (Bolbock) was the chairman of our membership committee and strategic planning.”
All three officers as well as outgoing president Jones will serve on the executive board. Other members of the board elected at the meeting include Stephen Brian, vice president of operations at Electrolux, John Laymon, vice president of manufacturing of Rexair, and Raymond Kirkpatrick, director of marketing at HP Products, all previous members of the board. Jim Marden, president of Ryobi Motor Products (makers of Singer vacuums), was the newest member elected to the board.
Dowling credited Jones with doing “an excellent job” during his tenure as president of the association. He said one issue the association must address is the formalization of ASTM (American Society of Testing and Materials) standards for rating the cleanability of vacuums.
“The formalization of standards is an issue over which we, as an association, have no direct control,” said Dowling. “But we can make sure we get repeateability between tests and reproducibility between testing labs. We’re very close, but we’d like to get it better.”
“On issues such as import legislation or vacuum cleaning standards the VCMA should take a proactive stance, but perhaps not lead” added Jones. “We have to look out for the betterment of the industry as a whole. What might be good for some members of the organization might not be good for all the members.”
Dowling sees three major trends affecting the industry in the coming decade: more environmentally friendly vacuums; greater concentration on cleaning hard floor surfaces; and a swing toward battery-powered units.
“We’ll see vacs with higher levels of filtration, disposable dirt bags that break down easier in land fills and the reduction of operating noise levels,” said Dowling. “Firms that have the dollars to devote to new product development and engineering will be the winners in the coming decade.”
Dowling said vacuums will become more flexible and easier to use. Another trend could be the revitalization of battery-powered vacuums.
“The technology of batteries is improving almost daily,” he said. “This will make battery-powered units more attractive because the comsumer will not have to sacrifice anything in power for convenience.”
Jones sees the recession as the greatest impediment to growth. It must end before the industry can again realize the explosive growth it enjoyed during the late 1980s.
“Right now, there are forces outside our industry beyond our control,” said Jones. “It is a very mature industry with almost 100 percent penetration into homes.
“We’ve sustained the market by providing consumers with products that have specialized cleaning functions, and making consumers aware that they can own more than one vacuum,” Jones added. “When the economy turns around we’ll be well positioned to grow.”
Jones said the floor care industry will grow by 6 percet to 7 percent a year for the next decade, barring unexpected downturns. He agreed both consumers and vacuums will change in the coming decade.
“The industry right now is very market driven by consumer demands for added cleaning features such as on-board tools, above-floor cleaning and products for quick clean ups,” said Jones. “By the turn of the century, consumers will be looking for technological improvements and superior performing products.”