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Rising Stars Sprinkler Industry

Rising Stars in the Sprinkler Industry

Up-and-Coming Leaders Spill Their Secrets to Success

In the fire sprinkler industry, the experience and wisdom gained from years of service is highly respected. At the American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA), we regularly look to our Board of Directors, and to our founding members and lifetime members, for their vast knowledge and guidance. However, we also love to encourage the work of the next generation, as is evidenced by the creation of the NextGen Initiative, a group that is working to inspire new members of our industry to get involved in leadership roles and go further than they could ever imagine. There are a few individuals who have proven themselves to be on a path to continued success in their fields, and they were kind enough to speak to us about their careers.

Rising Stars Sprinkler IndustryTiffany Moore is director of operations at Moore Fire Protection in Issaquah, Washington. She is the vice chair of the AFSA Pacific Northwest Chapter, vice chair of the NextGen Initiative, and she is a member of the Public Education & Awareness (PE&A) committee, the Apprenticeship & Education committee, and the Membership committee. Moore is also a member of the steering committee for the Washington Fire Sprinkler Coalition.

Q: How did you get your start in the industry? 

A: After getting a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2007, I struggled for years to make ends meet, especially due to the mass of student loans I had acquired. In 2012 I asked for help from my father, who offered me an entry-level position in his fire sprinkler company, Moore Fire Protection. The rest is history!

Q: What professional accomplishments are you most proud of?

A: I would have to say there are three. First, I’ve aided in quintupling our revenue at Moore Fire Protection over the course of five years by integrating new technology and streamlining our processes. Second, I’m proud to be a part of the work our NextGen Initiative group has accomplished, such as spreading the word about our industry to over 4,500 students at the SkillsUSA event in 2016. And third, I helped pull together and design the “Best Practices Guide to Residential Fire Sprinklers” for the Washington Fire Sprinkler Coalition, with the intent of uniting Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs), sprinkler contractors and builders together in the fight for statewide sprinkler adoption.

Q: Who are your industry role models?

A: Peg Paul with the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition is one of my role models, as is Meaghen Wills of Anchor Fire Protection, chair of the NextGen Initiative. And of course my dad, Tracy Moore, president of Moore Fire Protection.

Q: Where do you see yourself in five or 10 years?

A: This one’s tough. I love to let life grow around me organically and grab the opportunities as they come. However, if I must choose now, I would say I most likely see myself running my father’s company and illustrating a children’s book about fire sprinklers!

Q: Are you planning to attend AFSA’s convention and exhibition in Las Vegas this year?

A: Absolutely, it has become the highlight of my year!

Rising Stars Sprinkler IndustryTory Weisz, son of Board of Directors First Vice Chairman Wayne Weisz, is a salesman at Response Fire Supply in Santa Ana, California.

Q: How did you get your start in the industry? 

A: I’m part of the third generation in my family to be in the fire sprinkler industry. My grandfather was in the industry and introduced the trade to my father and uncle, both of whom have been in the industry for over 35 years. My brother and cousins are in the industry as well. My whole family is on the contracting side, but I had the opportunity to get into the supply side, which interested me. I like to think I was born into the industry.

Q: Before I had a career in fire protection, I…

A: I worked in the film industry for the last nine years and enjoyed my time while it lasted. I was able to travel and meet a lot of very nice people. About three years ago, I decided to go back and finish school. I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing. That was very important to me.

Q: What professional accomplishments are you most proud of?

A: I would have to say that in the short time I’ve been in the industry, my proudest accomplishment has been being a part of helping Response Fire Supply double in size within 15 months of being hired.

Q: Where do you see yourself in five to 10 years? 

A: In the next five years I see myself managing one of our locations. In the next 10 years I hope to have helped expand Response Fire Supply into multiple states while holding an ownership in the company.

Q: Who are your industry role models? 

A: I would have to say my biggest role model in this industry is my father, Wayne Weisz. He showed me that if you work hard enough, anything is possible.

Q: What advice would you give someone just starting out in the industry? 

A: I would say to be patient, in this industry nothing comes to you overnight.

Rising Stars Sprinkler IndustryJoshua Leonhardt is the executive vice president of Leonhardt Pipe & Supply, which has locations in Huntersville, North Carolina, Blackstock, South Carolina and Suwanee, Georgia.

Q: Tell us about your industry involvement. 

A: I have 14 years in the industry. I’m active in the Georgia Fire Sprinkler Association and the Carolinas Chapter, and a member of the AFSA NextGen Initiative and the Public Education & Awareness committee (PE&A).

Q: How did you get your start in the industry? 

A: My father David Leonhardt and his late brother Doug Leonhardt started Douglas Leonhardt & Associates in the early 1980s. Our family has been active in this industry ever since, and I helped my father start our current company in 2004.

Q: What is your favorite thing about working in this industry?

A: I enjoy the relationships, both professional and personal, that we’re able to develop with our clients. I’ve forged friendships that will last forever, all thanks to this industry.

Q: Who are your industry role models?

A: Randy Lane of Globe Fire Sprinkler Company, because he sets a great example for professionals in this industry with his work-hard, play-hard philosophy. He’s extremely easy to connect with and he has the ability to build rapport with just about anyone he meets. I view Randy as a role model because in him I see a natural leader who has courage, passion, and vision. That’s how I strive to one day be viewed by my peers and colleagues.

Meaghan Wills of Anchor Fire Protection is another role model of mine. Meaghan has a fire and a glow that you can’t find easily in most industries. I’m proud to be in the same industry as someone like Meaghan because she challenges boundaries and she gets things done. She’s turning heads in an industry where young professionals sometimes struggle to get their chance to shine. I hope she continues to set an example for young professionals in AFSA for many more years!

Rising Stars Sprinkler IndustryMindy McCullough Buckley is the office manager at Allsouth Sprinkler Company in Buford, Georgia. Although new to the industry herself, fire protection is in her blood.

Q: How did you get your start in the industry? 

A: My grandfather, Robert “Bob” McCullough started Allsouth Sprinkler and my father, John McCullough, is the current owner. I have been working at Allsouth since 2006. I was in college and decided that I would rather work with and for our family than anywhere else.

Q: What is your favorite thing about working in this industry? 

A: Besides knowing that I am helping our family business to flourish in the third generation, I like knowing that we are helping to protect people’s lives in tragic situations.

Q: Who are your industry role models? 

A: My father and my grandfather are my biggest role models. My grandfather was a pioneer in the industry and built Allsouth from the ground up. I idolize his dedication to the industry and honor the footsteps he left. My father is inspirational because he stepped up when my grandfather passed away and really expanded our business. He has been putting his heart and soul into Allsouth since he was in high school and has really done a great job.

Q: What advice would you give someone just starting out in the industry? 

A: Work your way through each department of a company. Really learn how and why things are done, and most importantly, educate yourself as much as possible.

Rising Stars Sprinkler IndustryBrett Heinrich is vice president, project manager, and estimator at Bamford Fire Sprinkler Company, Inc. in Salina, Kansas. He is the executive director of the Greater Kansas City Automatic Sprinkler Contractors Association, and he serves on several committees and subcommittees for AFSA, including the Apprenticeship and Education Committee (A&E) and the Contractors Support and Advisory Committee. He is the son of AFSA’s Immediate Past Chairman Joe Heinrich.

Q: How did you get your start in the industry? 

A: You always hear that a person stumbles into the sprinkler business one of two ways. A person either has a family member in the business, or they find it by taking the first job they find available. I had a family member in the business. We have a small business serving the Kansas and western Missouri regions.

Q: What is your favorite thing about working in this industry? 

A: Knowing just how much we can make a difference. When fire sprinkler systems are done properly, they are effective at providing a high level of life safety and property preservation.

Q: Who are your industry role models? 

A: My role models in this industry are my parents, Joe and Kathy Heinrich. I do not need to look any further than them for a great example for any aspect of life. Thanks for always leading by example!

Q: What advice would you give someone just starting out in the industry? 

A: Get involved. Continue learning. Go to AFSA’s online Education Center at firesprinkler.org and find something that fits your interests, career goals, or something that will make you better at what you are doing right now. Ask your employer if they have any suggestions on what you can do to advance yourself, but be proactive.

Q: Are you planning to attend AFSA’s convention and exhibition in Las Vegas this year? 

A: I will be attending, there will undoubtedly be a great lineup of seminars and other events. I wouldn’t want to miss any of the vendors who will be present displaying the latest in new products and answering questions. Not to mention I let Vegas borrow some of my money during the last convention there, and I’d like to have it back!

Rising Stars Sprinkler IndustryRay Fremont, Jr. is the national sales and marketing manager for General Air Products Inc. in Exton, Pennsylvania. He is a very active member of the AFSA Mid-Atlantic Chapter, as well as a member of the AFSA M/S Council, PE&A Committee and the NextGen Initiative.

Q: How did you get your start in the industry? 

A: General Air Products is my family’s business. My great-grandfather started the company in 1936 – I am part of the third generation of Fremonts working here. I started in the shop when I was a kid, and after graduating from Temple University in 2000 I began in sales and marketing for the company.

Q: What professional accomplishments are you most proud of?

A: My biggest professional accomplishment has been increasing my role in the ongoing growth of our company over the last several years. It is amazing to watch our manufacturing plants increase in square footage, see our employee roster grow and diversify, and know I played a role in that.

Q: Where do you see yourself in five or 10 years?

A: If the opportunity to be at the helm of General Air Products presents itself in the future it would be the realization of a long-time goal for me. However, furthering the success and relationships that I have developed in this industry is what I work at on a regular basis and there is no limit to where that can lead.

Q: What is your favorite thing about working in this industry?

A: The people. In my role, I get to meet people from all walks of life all over the country. People in this industry want to do good work, they are straightforward about what they want and need, they value people who value them, and they know how to have a good time!

Q: Who are your industry role models?

A: I am fortunate that I get to spend a lot of time with men and women who run companies in the sprinkler industry, large, medium and small. Presidents and CEOs who started out on the bottom rung of the ladder and worked hard to get where they are today – they are my role models and there are a lot of them involved with AFSA. I want to know every lesson they learned.

Q: What advice would you give someone just starting out in the industry?

A: Get involved outside of your job description. Learn from the people who have been doing it for a long time. When you eventually try to do it better than them, don’t fear the failure – progress is inevitable.

Rising Stars Sprinkler IndustryFred Durso, Jr. is the communications manager for the National Fire Protection Association’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative.

Q: Tell us about your industry involvement. 

A: In my role at NFPA, I handle all communications for our Fire Sprinkler Initiative, an advocacy campaign aimed at increasing the use of fire sprinklers in all new homes via the passage of sprinkler requirements. We empower the fire service, sprinkler industry, and other safety advocates to champion for legislation or code requirements for sprinklers in new homes, since home is where the majority of fire deaths happen (an astounding 2,500 U.S. deaths each year, on average). Our website, FireSprinklerInitiative.org, offers research and resources to help you perfect your pitch for this technology. I assist advocates nationwide with effectively communicating sprinklers to their town’s decision makers.

Q: How did you get your start in the industry? 

A: I had started at NFPA as its staff writer before eagerly taking on my current role a few years ago. I quickly learned that promoting home fire sprinklers has to be a collaborative effort. AFSA has been one of NFPA’s key partners over the years, and I’ve been honored to work closely with its staff to help promote such an important cause.

Q: What is your favorite thing about working in this industry? 

A: The lives saved by such a simple technology. In my spare time, I volunteer as a Disaster Action Team member for my local Red Cross chapter. The majority of “disasters” I’m called to are home fires. One in particular hit me hard. I arrived at the scene post-fire, and the fire chief told me “we found a body.” It was of 22-year-old Binland Lee, who was just weeks away from graduating from Boston University. I didn’t know her, but she was the first—and only—fire death I had encountered while volunteering. I have yet to shake the memory of that day, nor do I want to, since it constantly reminds me that home fire sprinklers have the power to stop these tragedies. Anytime I give a presentation on this technology, I do it in honor of Binland.

Q: What advice would you give someone just starting out in the industry? 

A: One of my favorite quotes sums up my advice: “Nothing is as important as passion. No matter what you want to do with your life, be passionate.”

Conclusion

With passionate rising stars like these in our industry, progress for everyone is indeed inevitable. Sprinkler Age would like to thank all of the young professionals who took the time to answer our questions, and for anyone reading who is thinking about building a career in an aspect of fire protection, know that you are in excellent company.


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