As a business owner, I have gone through and witnessed some of the school of hard knocks. Having started a company at a young age with not much more than a hope and a dream, I learned quickly from both the good and the bad experiences. One principle I learned very quickly: surround yourself with good people. Our industry is full of very good people. One group that has become very near and dear to me, is the staff at the AFSA headquarters in Dallas. As our association grows, the constant need mounts for information, training, and a multitude of other information. We, as association members, are leaning harder on our AFSA staff than ever before. Staff members have accepted the challenge and have hit the ground running. We have an incredible group.
The members of our AFSA staff are on a constant mission to discover where a need may be for new services and products which may be helpful to our membership. One of those new ideas is the development of a low-voltage training program. The idea was brought forth last summer in response to a large number of contractors contacting the AFSA staff regarding low-voltage training. The need for this educational program has become apparent. Although the program is very much in an infancy stage, development of a low-voltage program could be very useful and a big part of our future. In February, AFSA held a webinar on low voltage in which over 400 people participated.
A real success story for our products and services line has been the development of the AFSA Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance (ITM) Inspector Development program. In early discussions about this program, the biggest motivating factor to get it off the ground was simply that the industry needed it. Again, staff had heard from a very large number of contractors looking for educational material. George Wagner, Russ Leavitt, and Bob Caputo were all influential in the development of this excellent two-year training program. I feel it very appropriate to share some of the successful numbers associated with this program:
• All ITM classes (five to date) have sold out, including the spring 2018 class, which starts in April.
• Group 1 graduated November 2017.
• Groups 2 and 3 will graduate in June and November 2018, respectively.
• One hundred percent of all students who attempted the Level II Inspection exam passed on the first try.
• Students have 20 percent higher passing rate of NICET Levels I and II than the national average.
This program continues to evolve, improve and update with code changes and member feedback. Many thanks to all involved.
I want to close with another promotion. AFSA 37: Convention, Exhibition, & Apprentice Competition will be held at the beautiful Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Washington, DC September 30-October 3, 2018. This will be an incredible venue in our nation’s capital. This will no doubt be one of the largest shows our industry has ever experienced. Sign up early and make plans to attend!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Wayne Weisz is Chairman of the Board of Directors for the American Fire Sprinkler Association.