Rather than make this article just one more message about the coronavirus, I thought that I would take a different tack. I want to instead address the idea that we are not in uncharted waters but that we have lived through tough economic times in our nation before. In 2008, we experienced the housing crisis. In the early 2000s, we saw the dot-com crash. In 1990, we had runaway inflation.
At each of those moments, you could hear the same refrains of doom and gloom. Yet, what did we do as a nation, as a group of contractors? We got back to work. It was not easy, and it was not immediate—this recovery will be the same. Yet, the people I am counting on right now to see us through are those in the trades. Every single time that we have needed to rebuild and grow as a country, it has been the trades who have been the engines of that growth.
Also, it seemed during those crises that we forgot about the economic growth before each one. I do not want any of us to allow the last three months to cause us to forget about the past 36 months, where we saw tremendous and vibrant growth. We can get back to that place, and how you vote this November will decide what track you want us to be on.
As you are aware by now, we have made the tough decision to cancel AFSA39: Convention, Exhibition & Apprentice Competition in September. I know many of you look forward to attending our convention each year, as do I. It is the time of the year when you get to make new friends and catch up with old ones—where so much business gets done face-to-face. Take this opportunity to reach out to someone you do not know within our organization and forge a connection. A single email or LinkedIn connection could mean great things for your future.
The central part of our organization has been education. While in-person training will not be available for some time, there is still a plethora of online learning opportunities to take advantage of. I want to commend our AFSA staff who run them as it has not been easy to pivot more of our material to the online world and to handle the larger-than-expected online attendance. Please know that I am grateful to a staff who can adapt to ever-changing circumstances.
As I write this, many young men and women have just graduated from high school. Some are still unsure about their future, and others are looking forward to joining the trades. Let us make them feel welcome and give them a place in our organization so that we may mentor them and train them for the work that is about to come.
I do not know what the next few months will bring. But as I look back on our history and look years into our future, I see an organization that can weather any storm. I see a group of contractors and people who say, “Why not?” rather than “We can’t.” I see an organization that does not give up but instead plows ahead to make tomorrow better than today. THINGS WILL GET BETTER, I PROMISE.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ted Wills, Anchor Fire Protection Company, Perkiomenville, Pennsylvania, is Chair of the AFSA Board of Directors.