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Members Celebrate Milestone Anniversaries 

As the American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) celebrates its 38th anniversary in 2019, we also recognize those members who are celebrating milestone membership anniversaries. The member companies featured have belonged to AFSA for 15 or more years of continuous membership. 

Several members are celebrating milestone anniversaries in July and August including Contractor Members Andersen Fire Protection of Alexandria, LLC, Alexandria, Louisiana; Fire Tech Services, Inc., Chesapeake, Virginia; Sentry Fire Services, Inc., Mauldin, South Carolina; VFS Fire & Security Services, Orange, California; and Associate Members ARGCO, Carlsbad, California; and Wheeler- Rex, Ashtabula, Ohio. Below we’ve shared some of these members’ favorite AFSA memories and things they’ve learned during their time in the fire protection industry. 

Joe Black, President, Sentry Fire Services, Inc. How did you get involved in the fire sprinkler industry? A company my father owned in the ‘70s got me my start. Working for him in the shop, then for a fire protection supplier to the southeast, then back to installation and inspections. Dad and I came back together and we started Sentry in June of 2001. 

How did you get involved with AFSA? Again, though my father. He was instrumental in starting the Carolinas Chapter and served as its executive director. He was also a founding member of the South Carolina Fire Sprinkler Association where he served as executive director until the late ‘90s. 

What is your favorite or most used AFSA benefit? The many seminars and webinars are great and keep us up-to-date on the latest information. The weekly Technical Updates e-newsletters are great. 

What is your favorite AFSA or AFSA convention memory? The 2012 convention to Hawaii happened to coincide with my 17th wedding anniversary, so it was a great trip. 

Griffith Brinkley, Operations Manager, Fire Tech Services, Inc. How did you get involved in the fire sprinkler industry? My father was the fire sprinkler AHJ for our city and guided me to the industry as a teenager in 1996. I began as a designer assistant generating blueprint reproductions and submittal packages. 

How did you get involved with AFSA? Originally as an apprentice. I also spearheaded the apprenticeship program at my firm. I am currently on the board of the AFSA Virginia Chapter. 

What is your favorite or most used AFSA benefit? Monday’s Technical Updates e-newsletter. 

What is the most significant change you’ve seen in the industry? Accelerated project schedules, communication technology, simplified installation products, and the decrease of craftsmen. 

What’s the key ingredient to your success? Surrounding myself with like-minded individuals who thrive on success, completing each day with no open ends, and returning every call and email. 

VFS Fire & Security is celebrating 25 years as AFSA members.

Randy Nelson, CEO, VFS Fire & Security Services How did you get involved in the fire sprinkler industry? I graduated from Iowa State University in 1984 with a construction engineering degree. At that time, the construction industry was coming out of a pretty deep recession. General contractors weren’t hiring, but those companies in the mechanical trades were actively hiring, specifically in fire protection. I took a position with Northstar Fire Protection out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

How did you get involved with AFSA? After starting my business, I researched industry trade groups and AFSA seemed like the right fit. I’ve always believed in the power of peer groups and AFSA has been a great asset. 

What is your favorite or most used AFSA benefit? The AFSA benefit we use the most is the design/engineering support. When we encounter a design issue we haven’t seen before or a question concerning the application of the code, Roland Huggins, PE [AFSA’s senior vice president of engineering & technical services] is our first call. His knowledge and network of high-level professionals has been invaluable over the years. An unexpected benefit is the network of other AFSA members I have access to. Our national accounts division gives preference to fellow AFSA members when needing to subcontract work for our out-of-state projects. 

What is the most significant change you’ve seen in AFSA or the industry? I’ve joked several times that “the fire sprinkler industry has over 100 years of history, yet has managed to remain ‘unencumbered’ by innovation and technology.” While that may have been true 20-30 years ago, it certainly isn’t true now. Today, the technology of sprinkler heads is evolving at a mind-numbing speed and the communication tools we use were unthinkable 30 years ago. 

What’s the key ingredient to your success? The key ingredient to my success has been surrounding myself with the best people I can find—then get out of their way. The biggest and most valuable asset of a business can’t be found on a balance sheet—it’s the people. 

The Wheeler-Rex team, celebrating 25 years of AFSA membership. 

Eric Pratt, Sales Manager, Wheeler-Rex How did you get involved in the fire sprinkler industry? Wheeler- Rex has always been involved with AFSA during my 11 years with the company. 

What is your favorite or most used AFSA benefit? The networking at the annual AFSA convention and exhibition. 

What is your favorite AFSA or AFSA convention memory? I always look forward to the apprentice competition. Watching the next generation of fire sprinkler technicians exhibit their skills is exciting. 

What is the most significant change you’ve seen in AFSA or the industry? The increasing debate and discussion about residential fire sprinkler requirements. 

What’s the key ingredient to your success? My willingness to learn and accept new challenges in our business. 

ARGCO has been a member of AFSA for 20 years. (From l to r): Celebrating this milestone are Mike Valter, Cooper Frey, Jim Stoddard, and Kevin Lambariello. 

James Stoddard, President, ARGCO How did I get involved in the fire sprinkler industry? In 1979, I went to work selling pipe thread sealing tape. In seeking leads to sell a pipe thread sealant, I went to the library where I discovered a pipe fabrication directory. It was a large hard-covered green book. I quickly learned steel pipe was welded, steel pipe was flanged, and those who threaded steel pipe were installing fire sprinklers. 

How did I get involved with the AFSA? I wanted to learn more about the industry that was supporting me. AFSA was the avenue that allowed me to showcase my new products and soon my customer list appeared like a list of “Who’s Who” of the fire sprinkler industry. My humblest and heartiest thank you goes out to AFSA. 

What is your favorite or most used benefit of the AFSA? The loyalty that AFSA Contractor members give to Associate members like myself. It is so important to join an association that builds the industry that supports our future and each of our families. We are so fortunate that our industry has such life-changing capabilities. 

What was the most significant change in the AFSA or industry? AFSA’s contribution in education and training has legitimized non-union installations of fire sprinkler systems, and the world has become a safer place due to the economies that this change has brought to the construction industry. 

NICET Level III Fire Sprinkler Inspectors Randy Guillory (left) and Robert L. Vandersypen (right) celebrate 15 years as AFSA members. 

Robert L. Vandersypen, President, Andersen Fire Protection, LLC How did you get involved in the fire sprinkler industry? I learned about the industry through the construction trade. 

How did you get involved with AFSA? I wanted to be involved with a national organization that promoted the fire sprinkler industry. AFSA provides educational opportunities to its members and several other benefits such as information about changes in codes. AFSA keeps its members up-to-date on the latest news in the fire sprinkler industry and answers technical questions. 

What is your favorite or most used benefit? The educational offerings such as seminars offered through the Louisiana Fire Sprinkler Association and the online seminars are always interesting and provide new technical information that is crucial to our industry. 

What is the key ingredient to your success? The belief in the life safety that you are providing to the public in this industry. Also, dedicated employees in the field and the office are essential especially those employees who go the extra mile to provide quality service to their customers. We were in business 11 years before joining AFSA and have found in the last 15 years of membership that AFSA has filled a void by meeting our company’s professional needs through various educational opportunities especially Sprinkler Age topics relevant to the industry. 

Happy Anniversary! AFSA appreciates its members and their dedication to the Association and the fire sprinkler industry, and looks forward to celebrating with more members! Recognition in Sprinkler Age will be done for members celebrating 15 years or more of continuous membership in five-year anniversary increments and is available to all membership types. Visit firesprinkler.org.

AFSA Milestone Membership Anniversaries
July and August 2019

35-Year Anniversary
Contractor Members
United Sprinkler Co., Fredericksburg, VA
30-Year Anniversary
Contractor Members
Ace Fire Systems, Las Vegas, NV
25-Year Anniversary
Contractor Members
E. Amboy Sprinkler Systems, Inc., Nazareth, PA
VFS Fire & Security Services, Orange, CA
Associate Members
Ameripipe Supply Company, Inc., Dallas, TX
Wheeler Mfg. Div. Rex Int’l USA, Inc., Astabula, OH
20-Year Anniversary
Contractor Members
Life Safety Fire Protection, Inc., Dublin, NH
J.W. Augusto Sprinkler Co., Inc., Worcester, MA
Associate Members
ARGCO, Carlsbad, CA
M.E.P. CAD, Henderson, NV
15-Year Anniversary
Contractor Members
Andersen Fire Protection of Alexandria, LLC, Alexandria, LA
Fire Tech Services, Inc., Chesapeake, VA
Sentry Fire Services, Inc., Mauldin, SC
Associate Members
Leonhardt Pipe & Supply, Inc., Huntersville, NC


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Thank You for Your Support!

Members Celebrate Milestone Anniversaries As the American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) celebrates its 38th anniversary …

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