Members Celebrate Milestone Anniversaries
The American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) is recognizing members who are celebrating milestone membership anniversaries. The member companies featured here have belonged to AFSA for 15 or more years of continuous membership.
“During this difficult time in our nation, many are evaluating what’s important in their lives and what brings them value,” says AFSA’s Chapter Relations Manager Meda Merritt. “Thank you to our long-time members who appreciate the value of AFSA and see the significance of their continued support and investment. We congratulate and salute you for celebrating this milestone anniversary.”
Several members are celebrating milestone anniversaries in May and June. Sprinkler Age asked those members some questions about their time in the fire sprinkler industry. Charlie Thoubboron, director of sales—water, Johnson Controls, shared some of his favorite AFSA memories and things he’s learned.
How did you get involved in the fire sprinkler industry?
“I started in the pipe, valve, and fitting business with Grinnell Supply Sales in the early ‘80s. At that time, Grinnell was separated from the Gem Sprinkler Company until Tyco purchased the company in 1986. I gradually worked from inventory control through inside sales to eventually becoming the operations manager at Grinnell. Due to a reorganization the company went through, I was put on the road in a sales role handling the Metro New York City market. My first introduction to sprinkler products was through the Gem Sprinkler line. I found I really enjoyed working with both contractors and distributors on their wide range of applications as well as challenges and helping them find the best solutions.”
How did you get involved with AFSA?
“As I developed relationships with contractors, I learned more about local association meetings. Once I started attending them, I could really see a great sense of community where contractors openly discussed issues they faced. The variety of guest speakers at the meetings gave me the opportunity to learn about new topics and products. From Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs) to lift manufacturers and safety experts—each allowed me to think about fire suppression from a different perspective. Additionally, as a manufacturer rep, it gave me a chance to offer support on our product line—whether new-to-market or tried-and-true.”
What is your favorite or most used AFSA benefit?
“I think the SprinklerFORUM is a great tool. I enjoy reading the questions that are submitted and the feedback that is readily shared by the members. It is a good resource for technical questions or just a place to get advice when you might be stumped. I highly recommend it to all that are involved in our industry. Oh, and a little fun, playful ribbing sometimes makes its way on there, too.”
What is your favorite AFSA and/or AFSA convention memory?
“The conventions are always enjoyable and valuable. It represents a great opportunity for all of us to catch up with current and past friends, be it contractors, suppliers, and even competitors. I love the way the association pays tribute to the past and those who have made significant contributions to the industry. Because of this, the Awards Party is always a highlight for me.”
What is the most significant change you’ve seen in the industry?
“I think the sheer growth of the association is really impressive. What also stands out to me is the evolution of training in the various forms we are now able to receive and provide support. In addition, the convention exhibits are always impressive. It is great to see the new product innovation that comes along year after year. There continues to be a trend to help speed up the installation process while maintaining and improving product performance.”
What’s the key ingredient to your success?
“I have always been cited as a team builder within our company, which is something I’m proud to say. A number of my team members have moved up and on to be great achievers both in and out of our industry. Helping people grow is one of the most enjoyable parts of my job. Of course, that starts with finding the right people in the first place. I’ve been very fortunate in that regard as well.”
If I weren’t working in fire protection, I would be…
“ … likely, an architect. I love old building designs, specifically old churches. It seems to me some of the artistry was lost for a couple of decades, but recently it has come back—so now we are seeing buildings of all types with innovative designs that also utilize smart technology. It is a win/win for our eyes and the environment.”
AFSA looks forward to celebrating with more members! Recognition in Sprinkler Age will be done in five-year anniversary increments and is available to all membership types. Congratulations to these members and AFSA looks forward to celebrating with more members throughout the year!