Are you proud to wear the brand?

The annual section meetings are over and it is time to reflect on 2007.

Membership was the major concern for this past year. IAEI’s membership has been static for several years, and we have been slowly losing members. What are the reasons? One can probably cite several reasons—from members retiring, members not renewing for whatever reason, to not enough younger members coming into the association.

The International Board of Directors, expressing its concern over the membership non-growth, asked the International Membership Committee to study the situation, determine the causes, devise a remedy, and implement a plan to increase the membership. Along with the help of the International Office staff, a membership chair-training program was created. This training program was designed to give chapters and divisions membership committees ways and means not only to attract new members but also strategies to retain existing members.

This training session was presented at each section’s annual meeting. Those that attended the training session went away with several good ideas and methods on ways and means to increase membership. A little fun was enjoyed by each group when we played “Are You Smarter Than a New Member?” This was a game designed to let the attendees find out how much they actually knew about IAEI. We thought that if you were going to be the persons recruiting members, you should know more than others. We all learned that we needed to know more about our association.

It has been proven by other associations like ours that one-on-one contact at the local level is the most effective way to get new members and retain existing members. Providing opportunities for the new member not only to receive the benefits of membership but also to participate in the activities of the division, chapter, and section is a way to grow and maintain IAEI. Another way for the one-on-one personal contact to be effective is to provide each member a mentor. Everyone needs reinforcement and reminding once in a while to keep his or her interest. A mentor can provide that by contacting his mentee and encouraging attendance at meetings and seminars, asking the mentee to help by serving on committees, or being chapter or division officers.

We all can identify one, or many, who have influenced us in our careers. Maybe, like me, you had a person like Marvin Hobbs, who took the time to get down on the floor and teach his green helper how three- and four-way switches worked. Or someone like Norman Williams, who encouraged me to be a better electrician. People like Lock Chamberlain and Dick Boyd, who got me evolved in IAEI and encouraged me to take advantage of the benefits IAEI offered with membership—benefits of not just receiving excellent training material and seminars, but actually being engaged in producing and teaching that material. Many people in IAEI already serve as examples, as mentors, and many more could. What about you? Will you help grow IAEI?

The past section meetings offered many opportunities for learning. Since this was the year that 2008 edition of the National Electrical Code came out, all United States sections made the Analysis of Changes a major part of the training program. The Canadian section focused on Alternate Power Systems with breakout sessions on Photovoltaic Systems, Interconnection of Electric Power, and Wind Turbine Technology. Of course, all section meetings offered the opportunity to network with one another. What better way to share our experiences than at the annual section meetings?

What’s ahead for IAEI in 2008? More emphasis on membership, continuing to provide top-notch training material, and continuing to teach the members in the electrical industry are just a few of the projects IAEI will be doing in the next year. As our Director of Education, Codes and Standards Mike Johnston, says, “Education increases membership.” IAEI will also be part of a coalition made up of other like-minded associations trying to advance the profile of inspectors. (See the announcement in November/December 2007 issue of the IAEI News.) This coalition is a much-needed initiative to educate the public, as well as politicians and managers, of the important role that inspections and inspectors play in the safety of our building environment.

In the next few months, IAEI will be conducting another membership survey. We need to know what the members think, know, need, and want. We need to know the demographics of the membership. Are we continuing to grow older? The last survey indicated that in ten years nearly 50 percent of the membership would be retirement age. Are we attracting younger members and, if not, why not? Please help by completing the survey and returning it to us. That is the only way for us to determine if we are doing it right or if we need to change direction. IAEI has an affinity credit card program that provides IAEI a small percentage on what people charge. Are there other group programs that you would like IAEI to provide? Make it known by completing the survey.

If you did not attend your section meeting in September or October, you missed some great times. All the section meetings were a great experience—time for learning and time for fun. Plan now to attend next year’s meeting. If you can’t get to the section meeting, then be sure to attend your chapter and division meetings. As I asked the attendees at the section meetings—Be the Power of One and then IAEI can become the Power of Many! Be proud to wear the IAEI brand!

James W. Carpenter
Former IAEI CEO and Executive Director, and Editor-in-Chief for the IAEI News, James Carpenter was previously the chief electrical engineer, state electrical inspector for the Engineering Division of the Office of State Fire Marshal, North Carolina Department of Insurance. He had been with the department for twenty years, with twenty years electrical experience prior to coming to the state. He was a member of CMP-2 from 1987 to 2002 and was chairman for the last three cycles. He has been a member of IAEI since 1972. He was also a member of NFPA and is serving as the TCC chair and on the Standards Council. He was on the UL Electrical Council.