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Chairman’s Message

One of the most anticipated events to happen as we roll into 2019 is the hiring of our new association President & CEO, Debra McGuire, MBA, IOM, CAE. Debra has had a long career in the association business. Throughout the vetting process in our search for a new president, Debra’s qualifications stood out. It was a pleasure for me to participate in the initial face-to-face interview with her and our transition committee. The enthusiasm she has shown since being offered and accepting the position has been impressive as well. I am enjoying getting to know her more as the weeks pass. She is going to be a very strong leader for our organization. Her official first day is January 23, 2019. Learn more about Debra on pages 8 and 10 of this issue.

As the new year starts, I know there are many, including myself, wondering what kind of economic climate we will have in 2019. These last couple of weeks we have seen huge swings in the stock market. Congress has new leadership, like it or not. The government is experiencing a partial shut down. Interest rates have increased a couple of times through 2018. With all of that said, I guess there is good reason for a little uncertainty. As I sit here today and write this, the new year is not starting with the bang I was hoping for.

Throughout the month of December, I made a few phone calls to some contractor and supplier friends around the country. My question was, “What do you see or what do you expect from this next year?” Most economic reports I have seen show a 3-4 percent economic increase in 2019. Single-family housing starts may be off a little from the 2018 totals as demands look to be easing a little. Multi-family projects look to steady, and commercial starts should stay steady as well. Some of this is going to vary from market to market, which is normal. This issue also features forecasts from several industry experts and our members.

This last year we witnessed an increase in consolidation – mergers and acquisitions. On the contracting side of our industry, this certainly appeared to happen at a much steadier pace than in prior years. As an association, we witnessed some of this through changes in contractor’s dues being paid. Mergers and acquisitions were also the case on the manufacturing and supply side. All indications are this trend will continue through 2019.

With Debra McGuire coming on board, AFSA’s leadership has been strengthened. Our association will have a good year. Our members and member services will grow. I am looking forward to a good 2019. After that, we are still looking for that crystal ball. For now, we are blessed! I was recently reminded of some good words to live by: “Live on 80 percent, save 10 percent, and give 10 percent.” Happy New Year!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Wayne Weisz is Chairman of the Board of Directors for the American Fire Sprinkler Association. He is president of Cen-Cal Fire Systems, Inc., in Lodi, California.

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