I write this message on the Fourth of July weekend and contemplate leadership.
When our association was founded in 1981 we did so as a group of open shop contractors whose business needs and demands were not being addressed. Our founders felt compelled to figure out a way to give open shop contractors a voice in a contentious marketplace and to train our workforces in a professional and accredited way. It took leadership and courage to break out in this new direction. But it also took an extraordinary amount of hard work and time to lift the young idea from concept to reality. Those original industry leaders wore many hats for the young AFSA and still had the burden of running their businesses. Those of us that enjoy the fruits of businesses today are still in their debt.
Throughout our history the quiet, steady hand of AFSA President Steve Muncy has been at the wheel. In those early days, the firm direction and ideology of our contractor Board of Directors was always clear, but it was Steve that had the task of implementing policy and creating culture. He did so with grace and an uncanny balance that is the mark of leadership. Leaders have competing demands placed on them and their limited resources. To truly listen to various sides of an argument and to honestly give and honestly take is a skill. That skill is sorely lacking in our winner-take-all national politics. It is a shame and I pray for true leadership again.
In our little AFSA world we do have such leadership – in our past and in our future. In the same strong, steady way that Steve has helped define who and what we are, he has laid the foundation for transitioning into the future. Steve was extremely instrumental in finding our new Executive Vice President Frank Mortl III and has done a textbook mentorship to the eager and capable Mr. Mortl. Our board make-up consists of a blend of well-seasoned contractors representing all regions of the country that reflect large and small contractors that hold decades of street smart and academic contracting experience. Our chemistry with our new EVP Frank Mortl III gives us much optimism.
Our staff in Dallas is growing and exceptionally competent with a hallmark of almost nonexistent turnover. Our membership is also growing, as is our participation in NFPA and our national convention. Our balance sheet is strong and the future holds numerous opportunities for us, our vendors, and our industry. There will be difficult choices ahead and unexpected challenges but I firmly believe that due to the good providence of our industry and the foundation that our leaders have provided, our future is a shining city on the hill.
Michael F. Meehan is AFSA’s Chairman of the Board.