Local News

June 28, 2013

Werner Braun: Meeting our members in sunny California

I just got back from a quick trip to Irvine, Calif., where I met with about 35 Carpet and Rug Institute members during our annual CRI “mini-annual meeting.”

It’s a trip I look forward to each year, and not just because of the temperate climes and long, sunny days.

At CRI, we value all of our members, whether they’re here in Georgia or in the East, where the majority are located, or whether they’re on the West Coast. And we feel that it’s very important to get out there to communicate what CRI is working on for the betterment of the industry in an “up close and personal” way.

Recently, our organization has put a new organizational structure in place, which is a lot leaner, and lot nimbler, and a lot more quicker to react than we’ve had in the past. So this year my talk focused on letting these members know about this new structure and revealing what some of CRI’s priority projects are for the coming cycle.

At CRI, we could basically focus on hundreds of issues during a given time period, but we feel that it’s more important to devote concentrated time and energy to the ones that we deem most important.

We do this by asking ourselves three questions of each potential focus. Most importantly, we ask if it is a significant issue for the industry. Then we try to determine if it’s an issue that CRI can “move the needle on.” And finally, we try to determine if it is an issue that CRI members are willing to help communicate the industry position on in the market place. In other words, is it an issue that members feel passionate enough about to help with the process of spreading the word?

About 19 issues or projects currently meet those requirements. There are certainly dozens of others that meet one or two of the three determining factors, and we are constantly monitoring on behalf of the industry to see if any of those need to move further up the chain as time goes by.

I explained to our West Coast constituency that our oversight body for CRI is called the Strategic Issues Leadership Council, commonly referred to as SILC. Under that body, we have three panels that help make decisions about which issues should become top priority projects. Those panels are the Product Performance Specifications Panel, the De-selection Panel and the Extended Product Responsibility & CARE Panel.

That last panel is of particular interest to those on the West Coast. California, which is responsible for 10 percent of the United States economy, faces more challenges than we do in the East with respect to stricter regulatory environmental restrictions.

They have air quality issues that are unique to them, and because of the California Carpet Recycle Law, which was put in place about two-and-a-half years ago, they, and the rest of the industry, are very concerned about the additional cost that comes with recycling carpet wastes. So being with them gave me a chance to hear about some of the issues that they deal with that don’t affect us quite as much in the eastern United States.

We depend upon our members to provide a lot of sweat equity to help us manage these issues and all of the issues that come before the Carpet and Rug Institute.

We also depend on them to be our eyes and ears on the ground and to let us know what problems and concerns they deal with that might need to become priorities for the organization as a whole. This gives us the chance to recognize an issue that needs to be managed that we might not have even been aware of.

So I’m grateful that I had the chance to make the trip to California this week and meet with the great folks that comprise our membership out West. It’s really all about keeping each other in the loop and doing what’s best for the betterment of our great industry.

Werner Braun is president of the Dalton-based Carpet and Rug Institute.


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