Safety is the Great Uniter

Blog 15, January 2023

AAADM AT 30: Safety is the Great Uniter

AAADM reaches a significant milestone this year: the 30th anniversary of its forming. It's an ideal time to look back. Here, Don Moerbe, retired vice president of marketing for Horton Automatics, shares his memories about how the early days of the automatic door industry led to the forming of AAADM.

Remember this: safety is at the core of AAADM's creation.

I well remember its creation because I was there. I was there 20 years before that, too, when the different manufacturers of automatic doors came together for the very first time.

So, before we get to AAADM's founding in 1993, let's go back to 1973.

In that year, our industry was growing but still small, and executives from the existing manufacturers realized they needed to come together to make rules about what constitutes a safe automatic door. It was a natural step in the evolution of the industry. We had enough product out there in the public space that safety uniformity had become paramount.

The thought of forming our own association was still decades away, so we started by joining with Builders Hardware Manufacturing Association (BHMA). They invited the makers of industrial automatic doors and pedestrian automatic doors to an exploratory meeting with their executive committee in Chicago.

Afterward, the BHMA agreed to form a section, which is another word for committee, for us within their organization. So, Section P was formed. It was the precursor to today's AAADM. Section P's first order of business was writing a standard for power-operated doors, with the goal of it becoming an ANSI standard.

We accomplished that goal. By the early 90s, our industry standard was well-established. Discussions began about how to improve adherence to it. The feeling was, “We've got a standard out there, but we don't think our doors are always being properly installed, adjusted, and maintained.” The members of Section P discussed taking the matter to the BHMA, to see if that association would consider adding automatic door training to its offering. Somewhere during those discussions, talk turned to forming its own association.

There was an exploratory session in 1993 with executives from the door manufacturers, and they quickly realized the time was right. AAADM was born.

Now, building on an established ANSI safety standard was the goal. The first real work of the new association was to form a certification committee, of which I was the chairman. We were tasked with writing a comprehensive training manual.

Once we had the training manual, now we needed to organize a way to train the trainers - how to instruct the people who were going to carry this work into the field and educate the men and women who install and maintain our industry's products. We broke it down roughly by company, so each member company had a trainer that was responsible for a particular aspect of automatic door safety. We said, “Give us your organization's best person, the one responsible for your own company's safety policies.” Together, they developed a curriculum to train the trainers.

Here, at the 30th anniversary, I think it's important to remember that, while we at AAADM all came from different companies and were fierce competitors, when it came to safety, we joined together. That's the real reason for AAADM's existence and that's the association's legacy all these years later. It will continue to be in the future.

A note from the editor:

As AAADM and membership recognize the 30th anniversary milestone, look to social media throughout the year ahead, including Facebook and LinkedIn. We will be celebrating other reflections from other industry leaders and, in general, putting s spotlight on where we've been and where we are going as an industry.


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