To remain consistent with my recent theme beginning articles, once again I must reflect upon how quickly time is passing. We are now already into September, more than two-thirds of the year in the books. WOW! For me, it is also a reflection on nearly two years in the books since being honored to serve this great association as Chairman of the Board of Directors. When the final event winds down at our annual convention next month in Phoenix, so will my second and final term as Chairman.
It has been an eventful two years marked by an improving economy in most areas of the country, which has translated into increased membership. New chapters are in various stages of formation, which will further solidify the ground roots of this association. The Apprenticeship & Education Committee has once again outdone itself with the completion of training course updates and the aggressive development of an Inspection, Testing & Maintenance curriculum (in progress – preview of program to be presented at the convention). The Contractor Support & Advisory Committee has placed the final touches to the “Day One” fitter orientation video update and is set to begin work on the companion “Safe One” video. Our Manufacturers/Suppliers (M/S) Council continues to provide valuable services to AFSA, not the least of which is the significant number of highly involved members to our many committees. Every committee has performed admirably and with great purpose.
By far my greatest satisfaction has come from the appointment of several entirely new members to our committees during my initial year. New faces and personalities from both the contractor community and the M/S community. They immediately provided fresh input, ideas and enthusiasm. From this infusion of new blood, a new work group was spawned. It quickly became a priority initiative now known as the “NextGen” group and quickly developed a life of its own. The stimulus for this was Meaghen Moyer of Anchor Fire Protection, Perkiomenville, Pennsylvania. Meaghen also kindly consented to take the reins of this initiative and see what we could create in attracting the involvement of a younger generation in AFSA leadership, especially beginning at the chapter level. The only directive I provided was that everyone involved in the development of this program would be NextGen eligible. No boomers involved. I have been amazed at what has evolved from our initial discussions. Meaghen has created an enthusiastic and passionate workgroup that includes several members of current AFSA committees (chapter and national) and has the involvement of AFSA staff (but only the staff that qualify for the NextGen age category – 40 and under). She has engaged the leadership of local chapters and gained their support and participation. Indeed, local chapters are where NextGen participation is of greatest value and importance. Many communication platforms have been established and programs already in place. Our convention will feature a seminar specifically targeted at the NextGen audience entitled “Real Talk: Navigating the Generation Gap.” Additionally, there will be a special reception for NextGen qualifying convention attendees Sunday evening.
This group is here to stay and intent on achieving significant results. Their mission statement is to “Identify and engage the next generation of fire protection industry professionals to create a new and stimulating culture within the organization.”
Remember that within the year, Baby Boomers will no longer be the majority of the workforce. That pendulum will swing to Generation Y (18-30 year olds). It is becoming an urgency to discover and develop our future association and industry leaders. If you are a contractor employing and developing bright young minds in your organization, please allow, better yet encourage them, to become involved in shaping the future of our association and industry. The NextGen group is a great path in that direction. And, it could likely create a greater commitment to you and your organization.
In closing, I extend my heartfelt thanks to the incredibly talented and industrious staff we are blessed with in Dallas, the Board of Directors and the many committee members for all the assistance and support I have received. God Bless you all as you continue the advancement of saving lives through the installation of automatic fire sprinklers!! Thanks for the memories.
Joseph A. Heinrich is president of Bamford Fire Sprinkler Co., Inc., Salina, Kansas, and chairman of the AFSA Board of Directors. Heinrich’s initiation to the sprinkler business was as a fitter, beginning shortly after graduation from college in 1972. He has been involved in the industry since that time. Over the course those years, he advanced to design, estimating, sales and administration and developed new contracting companies in Kansas and Colorado. Heinrich served multiple terms on the board of directors of the Kansas Sunflower Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) including one year as president. He is also involved in numerous civic and fraternal organizations on a local level. Heinrich has been an AFSA and NFPA member since 1981. He may be reached at 785-825-7710.