Weighing Benefits Against Leadership

After making the rounds to all six section meetings with International President Lanny McMahill and four meetings with Vice President of International Affairs Doug Geralde, we learned once again that even though things are different many things are the same. The uniqueness of each section was evident but as we met with leaders and members it was clear that all had similar goals and problems, no, make that, opportunities.

The most common problem was that all across IAEI, membership is continuing to fall. Even though IAEI offers many benefits to the inspector member as well as the associate member, we all are having problems retaining members. New members are joining at a rate that should show continued growth but for reasons we haven’t been able to identify, members are not renewing for the second or third year. Statistics indicate that if we can hold the new member for two or three years then they become long-term members.

What can we do to keep members long enough for them to realize what great benefits and opportunities are available to them? We must do a better job of expounding on what IAEI is all about and what it offers for the $90.00 a year dues.

The first benefit that jumps to the forefront is the IAEI News. The award-winning bimonthly magazine has timely articles written by many experts in the electrical field. Each issue contains answers by our representatives on the various code-making panels to Code questions sent in by the members. A section is provided for chapter and division meeting minutes. This provides insight on what is going on in meetings across IAEI.

Another benefit of IAEI membership and participation is the ability to engage in the code making process. Proposals and Comments start at the division and chapter level where proposed changes can be discussed and developed and forwarded to IAEI International level for support of the IAEI representative on the code-making panels. IAEI has forty representatives on the nineteen code-making panels and the Technical Correlating Committee. IAEI’s voice is heard and your continued membership will assure that it will continue to be heard.

The future of IAEI depends on developing leaders. The opportunity for members to work and participate in the many varied functions and committees of IAEI, from the local division and chapter, offers members an excellent way of developing and refining their leadership skills. Maybe everybody can’t be an international president but there are many positions that need dedicated and willing people to serve.

Of course, education and training is a very important benefit for IAEI members. IAEI offers superior training materials. The Analysis of Changes, Soares Grounding, One- and Two-Family Dwellings, and many other publications are examples. Along with these materials, IAEI offers seminars on these subjects. Chapters and divisions conduct seminars at the local level using local instructors. The International Office also provides seminars conducted by trained IO instructors.

These benefits are available to IAEI members—inspector and associate. Even though the associate member may not be able to hold some offices reserved for inspectors, there are other benefits that are valuable to the associate. The ability to network with the enforcer is just one.

With these benefits and many others that you may identify, why is the membership declining? Is it that younger people entering the trade are not interested in membership in associations? Are we not doing things that our predecessors founded this association for some 75 years ago? What do we need to do to reverse the trend of declining membership? It can’t be the $90.00 membership dues! $90.00 is still lower than any other association such as ours.

The International Board of Directors asked the International Office to conduct a membership survey to help them in future planning. Have you completed yours and sent it to the IO yet? It was bound in the May/June issue of the IAEI News and was handed out at all the section meetings. If you have misplaced your copy, contact the IO and get one. The information that we get back from the members will help us determine what you want and need.

A new year has started. It is not too late to make that resolution to work for your IAEI and educate yourself in order to do your job better.

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.