If you have been around awhile, you have probably heard of the group called the Roadrunners. If you regularly attend IAEI chapter and section meetings, you may have heard the code panel or some of the presenters referred to as Roadrunners or Circuit Riders. Where the term Circuit Rider originated, I am not sure; but as long as I have been a member of IAEI and traveled the circuit, the terms have been used interchangeably to refer to the men who come to the meetings and talk code.
The Roadrunners are a group of representatives for manufacturers, testing laboratories and IAEI who are active in the process for the National Electrical Code (they are on one or more code panels) and for other NFPA standards and they are supported by their companies or organizations.
You might ask, why would manufacturers send their representatives to an IAEI meeting? Well, the answer is simple. The manufacturers and testing laboratories respect the inspectors’ opinions and honesty about products; they just tell it like it is and that forthrightness is appreciated. In addition, the meetings offer venues for the representatives to teach inspectors, engineers, contractors, and electricians in attendance about the proper use and application of products per the requirements of the National Electrical Code.
In recent years, more presentations have been allowed at the meetings, most of which are codeoriented. True circuit riders educate only from a code prospective and never run down a competitor’s product. We feel the importance is for the product to be acceptable for the application, and to be installed properly per the NEC requirements.
Over the years at many IAEI chapter and section meetings, the Circuit Riders (code panelists) have been given a gift to show appreciation for their attending the meetings. The first gold Roadrunner pins were awarded in 1968; and the Roadrunner Club was established about October 1, 1968, at the Southern Section Meeting in Houston, Texas, at the Rice Hotel. M. S. “Dude” Parmley, president of the Southern Section (and later 1976 international president), along with his two co-hosts, Jay Traylor and Sidney Wolfenson of Houston, together with the Texas Gulf Coast Chapter decided to honor the panel members with a gold roadrunner pin
to distinguish them from all the rest. It was then, and still is today, a small pin about ¾ inch long, depicting a Chaparral cock bird, the roadrunner, made of solid gold and with a ruby eye.
Two of the most respected circuit riders of the time, Richard Lloyd and Kent Stiner, were asked to set the criteria for becoming a member of this very prestigious group. They did and all of the original inductees agreed to the qualifications for membership. To be accepted, the circuit rider must have ttended five section meetings for a minimum of five consecutive years and have participated in their programs. At that time, participation was to serve on their code panels. They were also required to be a member of one or more NEC code-making panels. The gold roadrunner award is an honor bestowed by peers.
The first ten men received their pins at the Houston, Texas, Southern Section Meeting that year. They were Len Sessler, Ed Brand, Richard L. Lloyd, Kent Stiner, Frank Stetka, Daniel Boone, Hank Watson, Merwin “Money” Brandon, Lou LeFehr (director of IAEI) and John Watt. Over the following years, additional pins were given out to those circuit riders that met the qualifications. In 1972, two more icons received the award: Eustace Soares, and Bennie Segall. In September 1976, six more were added: Wilford I. “Bill” Summers, (director of IAEI), Jack Wells, Alan Reed, R. W. “Dick” Shaul, Clem Baxter and Baron Whitaker. In April 1977, IAEI International President E. E. “Gene” Carlton received a gold roadrunner pin. In May 1980, Earl Roberts was inducted into the organization and received his pin. In April 1988, Artie O. Barker, international president for 1975, received his pin.
In September 1991, Richard E. Loyd was bestowed this honor along with close friend Charles Forsberg. At that Southern Section Meeting, M.S. “Dude” Parmley requested the Roadrunners to take responsibility of managing the organization from the Texas Gulf Coast Chapter. Dude stated he felt it was the right time to turn it over to the Roadrunner members. He and Richard L. (double L) Lloyd then asked Richard E. (single L) Loyd and his wife Nancy to oversee the organization and to see that it continued and that pins were awarded.
Since that time, the Roadrunner organization has awarded eight additional pins to deserving circuit riders. In April 1992, Harvey Johnson was honored at a meeting in Beaumont, Texas. In September 1992, George Flach, IAEI international president for 1982, and D. J. Clements received this honor.
On September 27, 1995, James T. Pauley and J. Philip Simmons, (1987 international president and director of IAEI) were honored with their gold roadrunner pins. On October 24, 2000, Philip H. Cox, international director of IAEI received his pin.
This year in October 2007 at the Southern Section’s 79th annual meeting, Mark Earley, who is assistant vice president of engineering and chief electrical engineer for NFPA, and executive editor of necdigest,® and John Minick, chairman of NEC Code-Making Panel 1 and field representative of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, received the prestigious gold roadrunner pin award.
The rules of membership have been revised; now a recipient must support and participate in the educational programs at IAEI section meetings and other electrical meetings, must contribute to the development and adoption of the NEC, and must make a significant contribution to the electrical industry as a whole.
Nominations for membership are made by the existing members of the Gold Roadrunners Club, and recipients are required to receive unanimous approval of the other Roadrunner awardees.
Earley and Minick bring the total membership of this elite group to thirteen living members: Philip H. Cox, retired, consulting and teaching for IAEI; James T. Pauley, vice president of industry and government relations, Square D Company; Philip Simmons, Simmons Electrical Services; George Flach, NACMA; D. J. Clements, retired; Richard E. Loyd, Steel Tube Institute; Charles Forsberg, retired; Earl Roberts, retired; Wilford I. “Bill” Summers, retired; Jack Wells, corporate development, Pass & Seymour/Legrand; and Len Sessler, the last of the original ten, is retired and makes his home in North Carolina with his wife.