Chuck Mello: 2011 International President

Chuck Mello

As we begin this next year, it is a good time to reflect on the association in general, and most of this article will be some of my reflections and future goals, long range and for 2011 specifically. As I look back on my twenty-seven years as an IAEI member (as both an associate and inspector member), and the last eleven years on the International Board, this has been an unbelievable experience. I am deeply honored and humbled by your support and trust that have been placed in me. My most important goal is to serve and to represent you in the best way that I can.

I started my education in the electrical industry, as many of you probably did, in grade school science classes. I remember for my 6th grade science fair entry I built a mock stud wall assembly of 2x4s and plywood and wired together a pair of 3-way switches and three 4-way switches to operate a 120-volt light bulb. While my father did not share the level of enthusiasm as I had, he left me to my tinkering, I am sure with the hope that I did not somehow burn the house down. For that project, I had to explain how the wiring was done and how the circuit operated to turn the light on or off from any of the five positions. Moving from that humble beginning, I completed a college degree in electrical engineering with a power specialty at Oregon State University. Over the next thirty-eight years I have been able to work and continue to learn about electrical equipment and safe installations. My hands-on education was supplemented with needing to understand theNEC, as well as product standards such as IEEE and UL. All along the way, I also found myself being a teacher to electricians, inspectors and other engineers on various job sites and also doing seminars on these topics. As my career progressed, I moved into dealing more with product standards and into field evaluations of electrical products that were not certified as well as teaching electrical safe work practices. Over this time, I obtained licenses as a master electrician and electrical contractor from Louisiana, New Orleans, New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado.

I became a member of IAEI when an inspector asked me to make a presentation on installation and testing of ground-fault protection to the Oregon Chapter. I had met this inspector on a job site where I was performing the required GFPE field testing and was explaining to him how this particular ground-fault system worked in normal operation and when a ground fault occurred. He thought maybe the local IAEI chapter would be interested in this as a more formal presentation. Shortly thereafter, I became an associate member in the Oregon Chapter and was mentored by this sponsor and encouraged to attend meetings on a regular basis. I became active on the chapter board and several years later, after changing status to an inspector member, ultimately became the chapter president. I was the education chairman for the NW Section for several years and then started my tenure on the International Board. All through this time, I have been active with IAEI, both as a student constantly learning from all the members I have had the privilege to interact with, as well as being an instructor, and sharing what I have learned. Even as the instructor, I learn something from each class. I owe to a large degree whatever successes I have had in my career to my IAEI membership and the many opportunities it has given me to learn and to network with very special people all over North America. I continue to see new learning opportunities with PV, wind generators, electric vehicles, and now the “Smart Grid” with all its new changes both in the NEC as well in products.

When your International Board of Directors conducted the search for the new CEO/Executive Director, they heard the message from the membership that IAEI needed to evaluate our traditional way of doing things and look to some new directions. Our core purpose and mission remain the same, but we need to have some new beginnings while not necessarily losing our key core traditions. We need to explore how we are reaching out to our present members, but just as important, how we can reach out to and encourage participation by our new members. One of these avenues is through online communications and social network links. While the traditional division/chapter/section meeting with educational programs is still of great value and we need to continue to promote that, it is a fact that many younger people seek their education and networking by other means. If we are to stay relevant, we need to participate in both the traditional meeting and these electronic mediums and maximize the benefits of each. Otherwise we will just become irrelevant, deferring to others that do communicate that way. The hiring of Mr. Dave Clements is part of our new beginnings. In addition, the International Membership Committee has formed an ad hoc committee specifically to develop a strategic plan for membership and how we can better the membership for IAEI. A number of years ago, we set a goal of “30,000 members in 2000,” but what we failed to do was to develop and put a firm plan in place to accomplish that goal. This new ad hoc committee will be the ones to make that plan. The board has also tasked the Long Range Planning Committee to develop an overall strategic plan, a five-year plan of what IAEI should look like and be doing in five years and on out. This means looking at others in the electrical and inspection industries and forming strategic partnerships and then building on the synergies that can result from those partnerships. This includes our traditional activities with NFPA, NECA, and NJATC and others, but will also move to include more activities with ICC, IAPMO (International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials), IEC, and the home inspectors associations (NAHI, ASHI, AAHI, and InterNACHI, to name a few). It also means planning for IAEI staff and facilities to accomplish this and how we will be funding that now and in the future. Lastly, it means looking at our resources and funding models to ensure we have the necessary resources there when needed.

2010 was a year of significant changes with the selection, hiring and transitioning of our new CEO/Executive Director. I see 2011 as a year with five main areas to move IAEI forward:

1. Membership growth and retention through the efforts of the Ad Hoc Membership Committee and very importantly continuing efforts at the local level;

2. Formalizing the Strategic Plan for IAEI overall and setting the course to meet those strategic goals with action plans and resources;

3. Finalizing the decisions for our building and moving that forward so that we provide adequate facilities with an eye to reduced cost of operations, and maintenance;

4. A complete review of our International Bylaws, International Operating Rules and Model Bylaws to ensure we are operating as we say we should be and to make changes where needed so we are set for our future direction and growth; and

5. Formalizing to a greater degree IAEI positions on NEC adoption, inspector qualification/certification, and support of the safety system we have in place that meets our mission.

As I am writing this, I am very excited about what lays ahead. I see an international board of directors that shares my enthusiasm for moving IAEI forward. My enthusiasm is tempered by the reality of today’s economy, and we will have to adapt to that reality as needed, but we cannot let this situation prevent any action to move forward. What I do know is we have a dedicated CEO in place, a dedicated staff and a membership that believes in what we are trying to accomplish. I look forward to a very productive year.

Chuck Mello
Chuck Mello is the President of cdcmello Consulting LLC, a consulting firm specializing in electrical training and project work. He spent 6 years active duty in the US Navy as a commissioned officer. He worked for Electro-Test, Inc (eti) for over 26 years doing field engineering, conformity assessment work, and management positions. In 2004 Chuck began work for Underwriters Laboratories as the Global Field Evaluation Program Manager, where he oversaw the overall field evaluation business. He was a member of NEC Code Panel 5, was a key contributor to NFPA 790 and 791 relating to competency and procedures for field evaluations. He also holds an active Master Electrician license from the state of Colorado and has held Master Electrician and Electrical Contractor licenses in several other states. He is a member of IAEI and served as the IAEI International President in 2011. He is a nationally recognized speaker on the NEC, grounding and bonding, high voltage power systems, electrical safety, and field evaluations. Chuck Mello holds a BS degree in Electrical Power Technology with a co-major in Naval Science from Oregon State University. Chuck can be contacted at