As we glide through the summer, I believe things are playing out just as predicted at the start of the year. It has been a busy year to this point. I have talked to many contractors and associates around the country and am constantly hearing: “We are busy and we could really use a few more people.” Nationally, unemployment is at record lows and skilled labor is just hard to find. Training from within our individual companies has become a priority for most of us.
When I look back to the origins of AFSA, the founders of this association wanted to have a mechanism in place to train a merit-shop workforce. Developing a skilled workforce was as big of a problem back then as it has become today. We can see it today in the record numbers of participants in the AFSA Fire Sprinkler Fitter Apprenticeship program, the Beginning Fire Sprinkler System Planning School, and the recently introduced ITM Inspector Development program. Merit shop contractors around the country are investing more than ever in training and developing their workforce.
In May we did have a change at the helm of AFSA. Frank Mortl III, CAE decided to go a different direction and pursue other interests. With his wife Kara having their first baby, they felt moving closer to family in the Northeast would be a lot easier on the family as a whole. We, as a Board of Directors, and all of us who know Frank and Kara wish them well and much success for whatever the future holds for them.
As for the day-to-day operations of AFSA, we have a tremendous staff that has stepped up and not let our association miss a beat. The staff is led by Vice President of Meetings & Operations Marlene Garrett who has been with AFSA for over 20 years. Marlene has been put in charge of overseeing the day-to-day operations. Senior Vice President of Engineering & Technical Services Roland Huggins, P.E., has been a tremendous help through this transition as well. Under the guidance of Marlene and Roland, along with an excellent staff, the level of service and meeting the needs of our membership has never been better.
We recently opened registration for AFSA37: Convention, Exhibition & Apprentice Competition in Washington, DC and the response has been tremendous thus far! Contractor, manufacturer, and supplier registrations are keeping pace with our record-breaking event last year, and we are on track to set an association record again in 2018. I have said this before, but it bears repeating: this is truly shaping up to be the biggest fire sprinkler convention that our industry has ever held.
Our association is strong and membership numbers have never been higher. I encourage everyone to get involved and take advantage of all of the great member services AFSA has to offer. Enjoy the rest of the summer and I look forward to seeing you all at AFSA37 in Washington, DC.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Wayne Weisz is Chairman of the Board of Directors for the American Fire Sprinkler Association.