Back in The Day

Back when I was in high school, which seems such a long time ago now, my English teacher had our class writing a paper every two weeks. I remember after doing several papers for that class, I began to find it harder and harder to find something to write about. I had used all the stories my mother had told my sister and me about growing up on the farm and the well had run dry, or so I thought. One Sunday night I still hadn’t started on the paper that was due the next morning, and Mother got on me for procrastinating too long. So, I wrote a paper on procrastinating; I got an A on that paper. Well, here I am now trying to write another editorial for the IAEI News. After five years, maybe the well has run dry.

But wait; maybe we can look back on IAEI to when I became your CEO/Executive Director. We were just about to celebrate IAEI’s Golden Jubilee—75 years of being an association for the electrical inspectors and others interested in electrical safety. I was serving on the International Board of Directors representing the Southern Section as the section secretary/treasurer. The section secretaries were serving as the planning committee for the Jubilee, and we had delegated most of the planning and implementation to the International Office. Phil Cox, then the CEO/Executive Director, had asked the committee what we wanted the IO to do and I smartly said, “Anything we tell you.” What a mistake that was! I became the person in charge. The Jubilee was held and everyone who attended enjoyed the time at Disney World and came away with an educational experience that was talked about for a long time.

As we reminisce, other high points come to mind. After struggling financially for that first year, which was an off-code cycle year, we rebounded and had a very good year in 2004. That was when we published the Analysis of Changes, NEC-2005. That began a cycle of better times financially. After putting off dues distribution or begging the chapters and divisions to let the IO keep the distribution for a couple of times, we have recovered until distributions have been made on time for the last two years. We underwent an increase in dues, a fifty percent increase, which was difficult as any increase is. Just go up to the gas pump every week.

Membership concerns still plague us, as we can’t seem to grow. We have new members joining at a rate of 150 to 200 members a month but we can’t keep them on board. Since January 2007, we have signed up 1,204 members, but the total membership has only increased by 63. Because of the concern, the International Board of Directors has instructed the International Membership Committee to develop a program, not only to get new members, but more importantly to retain the existing members. The focus must be at the local level—member-to-member, face-to-face, local members encouraging each other to stay involved. To help with this program of involving members as active participants in IAEI, the International Membership Committee, with help from the IAEI staff, will provide training for all section, chapter, and division membership chairpersons at this year’s section meetings. There will be a two-hour session scheduled for this most important training session. Be sure that your membership chairperson attends this meeting as the very future of IAEI depends on our ability to grow the membership. “Proud to Wear the IAEI Brand”—that is a sneak preview of what is in store for the membership chairs at this training session.

I am getting away from looking back over the last five years, so let’s look at some places we have visited. My travels to section meetings had Mary Anne and me going to places that we had never been before. The Southwestern Section meetings in Hawaii; the Jubilee meeting in Orlando, Florida; the Canadian Section meeting in Halifax, Nova Scotia; the Eastern Section meeting in New Hampshire; the Western Section meeting in Traverse City, Michigan, all have a special memory for us. Of course, all the meetings at every section were enjoyable, and we have made many new friends. This year we look forward to going to other places to make new memories. Places such as Anchorage, Alaska; St Louis, Missouri; Collingwood, Canada; Scranton, Pennsylvania; Florence, Alabama; and Tucson, Arizona, are sure to be delightful, not to mention the educational opportunities that will be available. The sections in the U.S. will be exposed to the new 2008 edition of the National Electrical Code, and the Canadian members will be learning about the Canadian Electrical Code. What an exciting time!

As we continue to look back, let us compare our IAEI News to issues in the past. Many have commented on the value and the look of the News. The Publications Department staff has continued to improve the look as well as the content. We should thank all the contributors who write informative and valuable articles for the News. All our publications have improved to the point that IAEI is recognized as having the best books and training material in the electrical educational field.

Enough reminiscing! As this editorial is appearing in the September/October issue, I know all of you have made plans to attend your section meeting, and I hope to see you there. I will be there. Will you?

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.