We should never forget our past; we should always work in the present, and steadily prepare for the future.
As your 84th International President, representative from the Southern Section and the first from the great state of Alabama, I recognize that I am only one of many. Many of whom came before me with great vision and enthusiasm which I can only hope to emulate. Even after saying that, we all must recognize that we are but one member of this great organization (IAEI) so we must focus on what is best for the organization as a whole.
Starting as a wireman through an apprenticeship program to journeyman I somehow lost direction. I decided to make a visit to Alabama for the 4th of July weekend. By chance my visit went longer than expected and I was asked to stay a week or so to help my uncle. In the meantime, my now wife of 41 years, Dianne, just swept me off my feet. As God would have it, we were married October 2, 1970. We now have two wonderful girls and eight beautiful grandchildren.
I shared an opportunity in Dianne’s father’s business for several years but that was not satisfying enough so I returned to school. My hope at that time was to follow God’s lead. Well, doors opened and closed over the next few years and by chance, over a campfire in the mountains of North Carolina in October of 1985, a friend mentioned that he needed someone with electrical background.
In January 1986, I became the city of Hoover’s first electrical inspector. The city grew from a 25,000 to 70,000 population over the next 25 years and is now the 6th largest city in the state of Alabama. I am very proud to have played a part in that growth and to have had the support that they showed me in my career. Any city with that kind of growth goes through many changes over a twenty-five year span.
I was very lucky to have a mayor (Frank Skinner) and a building official (Gerald Smith) that recognized the value of having a city employee as a representative of code associations and double fortunate that my representation was with IAEI. Subsequently, I was directed and encouraged to join IAEI and become active within the local chapter.
My first Alabama Chapter meeting was combined with the 1986 Southern Section Meeting that was held in the city of Hoover. So my start with IAEI had a jump-start, so to speak. Today I cherish those friends, associates and mentors from throughout the electrical industry that were my first look into IAEI and the many more that have become an invaluable network of educational opportunities and close personal friends.
I am sure everyone can look back and see a moment that they can point to and say, “That is when I knew that IAEI is where I am supposed to be”, mine was in San Antonio, Texas, in 1988. I entered the lobby of the hotel and as I approached a group of IAEI members that I recognized, one stood and introduced me as the next Southern Section president from the state of Alabama. I had no idea that he even knew or remembered me.
I started as a multi-hat inspector with emphases on electrical; and through the encouragement of the administration at the city of Hoover, I attended many training sessions to provide the ability to obtain many certifications through ICC, electrical, mechanical and building. I also hold a designation as certified building official by the Council of American Building Officials. I was also encouraged to widen my responsibilities and by doing so I was promoted to inspector supervisor in 1988; then in 1992, I was made assistant director and in 2003 that was changed to deputy director.
For several years I served as an electrical advisor on the Joint Trades Apprenticeship Council for the Department of Justice at Talladega Federal Correctional Institution. Another area of certification is through the American Planning Association as Certified Alabama Planning and Zoning Official. Many other areas could be mentioned, but I must now look to 2012 and where we as an organization are going and how we are to get there.
Since I began this journey in the year 2000 as board representative of the Southern Section we have had three CEO/directors. Their leadership has helped forge this organization’s mission for the 21st century. From membership to providing the best educational opportunity afforded by the best available method. From classroom to mentoring, to electronic media and any other form that may become available so our members and others have no better place to go for education in the electrical field.
We have a fiscal responsibility to our members, here at the International Office, as well as the Sections, Chapters and Divisions. This responsibility should not be taken lightly by us as we need to show that we are responsible agents of our membership. The IRS has, and continues to follow organizations such as ours to maintain that we adhere to their guidelines. It has become ever more important that we put in place fiscal overviews such as audits so that IRS review is minimal.
We need to make a difference; we need to get involved. We need to develop strong professional development programs. Maintain a state of the art electronic media. Strengthen the member network with a strategic membership retention program that is now being developed by a special ad-hoc committee.
I cannot help but recognize those fellow board members who have left having served this great organization, and those who remain to see that we remain the “Keystone of the Electrical Industry.” Their combined efforts are what will define who we are and where we will go in the future.
We have come a long way since the year 2000. We have focused on our weaknesses and identified our strengths and put in place many ideas that have forged a path that we can follow — a path that can be maintained and improved upon for the next several years. We should never forget our past; we should always work in the present, and prepare for the future.