Wayne Lilly began his career in the building construction business at the tender age of six. Like so many children he wanted to spend time with his dad. His dad was a carpenter, plumber, electrician, roofer and mason. Wayne’s first job was helping to carry rocks for a masonry sign. From there, he became hooked. For more than fifty years he has been in the construction business in one form or another.
The road from that rock sign till now has had many twists and turns. Working for his dad for many years exposed him to all of the construction trades. He did everything—from digging ditches to mixing mud to building houses. While in high school he had an opportunity to take some classes in electricity. That training led to almost four years in the United States Air Force as an aircraft electrician. The Air Force job exposed him to the basic theories of electricity. Prior to that he had learned how to install wiring. The Air Force training helped him understand how the wiring worked. After the Air Force, he worked as a plant electrician, plumber, carpenter, roofer, plant maintenance superintendent for a circuit breaker manufacturer and, finally, in his own electrical contracting business. During that time he became a certified master electrician.
In 1977, Wayne’s involvement in that segment of the construction business came to an end when Wayne was hired as an electrical inspector for the city of Harrisonburg, Virginia. His years with the city have led to certification as a One- and Two-Family Electrical Inspector, Electrical Inspector General, Electrical Plans Examiner, Certified Electrical Inspector, Certified Public Code Administrator, and Certified Building Official. His current title is Senior Building Codes Inspector. Some of his duties include making field inspections, answering telephone questions, working with other departments and divisions, filling in for the building official, overseeing the other inspectors, and helping to develop inspection policies.
The same year he was hired by the city he received an invitation from two inspectors in adjoining jurisdictions. They were going to an annual Virginia Chapter meeting of something called the International Association of Electrical Inspectors and were willing to provide him transportation. That first meeting was eye opening. Here was a group of people with the same interest in safe, code-compliant electrical installations as he had. A group of people who offered electrical education by nationally recognized NECï£¨ experts. There were people attending from state and local governments with information about inspector certification, adoption procedures and timelines for ordinances, laws and regulations. There was even a group of displayers who provided free advice, product information, catalogs and samples. Here was an opportunity to network with others in the same field.
Wayne doesn’t claim to be a genius, but he recognized a good thing when he saw it. As soon as he got back to his job as an inspector, he asked his supervisor if the city would pay for a membership in the IAEI. The city has been paying for that membership ever since and has been very supportive of his involvement in IAEI over the years by providing time for him to participate in committee work, attend chapter and section meetings and the international meetings at the home offices in Richardson, Texas. Of his employer Wayne says, “The city has been more than just an employer. They have provided an opportunity for me to expand my knowledge, make lifetime friends and gain a sense of worth that extends beyond the local community.”
Since becoming a member of IAEI in 1977, Wayne has served in many capacities. He has gone through the chairs at the Virginia Chapter and served on and chaired several local committees. He has served on and chaired the Southern Section Executive Committee and served on and chaired several other section committees. He has gone through the chairs and served as the Southern Section President. He has served as the Southern Section representative on the IAEI Education Committee. While representing the Southern Section, he has gone through the chairs on the IAEI Board of Directors.
He served on and became chair of the National Certification Program for Construction Code Inspectors (NCPCCI) Electrical Code Committee. He represented IAEI on Code Making Panel 8 for some fourteen years, with twelve of those years as principal.
If you want to learn to know who Wayne is, a visit to his office will help. You will not see the walls covered with certificates or awards. They are piled in dust-covered stacks on some shelves in the corner or stored in a filing cabinet. He knows such things are essential to becoming better at his job and to helping others be better at theirs; however, he finds that much more gets done when people in his office are not paying attention to certificates and awards hanging on the wall.
He says, “The presence of those things tends to stifle creativity and free exchange by creating an atmosphere of superiority. When we strip away the trappings that society tries to hang on us as important, such as impressing others with our status or title, having the latest gadget, driving the biggest car or wearing the latest in clothing, we tend to look at what is left with a more focused eye. What is important is our relationship with God, the family we cherish, the friendships we nurture, the legacy we leave behind and the lack of self glory.”
When you ask Wayne what one word he associates with IAEI he responds, “Opportunity. Looking back over the years, I see what opportunities were extended to me and how those opportunities shaped my life and future. Those two inspectors who first invited me to an IAEI meeting are now retired. However, they took advantage of the opportunity to get me involved in IAEI. I took the opportunity to become and stay a member. I took the opportunity to gain as much knowledge as I could and to return to IAEI as much as I could.
“Looking into the future, I see IAEI with opportunities to expand its membership with divisions, chapters and sections around the world. Such places as Central and South America, Australia, China, and many others are real possibilities. IAEI has opportunities to expand its education of inspectors, contractors, designers and others by utilizing electronic media and the internet. The opportunity to partner with other organizations to achieve common goals is now and will continue to present itself. As an organization we must be bold enough to forge new partnerships, to roll over stones in search of ways to keep members, and to take advantage when opportunities arise.
“Being able to take advantage of opportunity when it knocks means we must have an outstanding staff, a Board of Directors versed in what it takes to succeed and with the dedication it takes to make tough decisions, and we must have the financial capability to fund initiatives. We must have a membership with a devotion to the goals and objectives of IAEI—a membership that understands what it takes. I think IAEI has all of these in place. There are bound to be stumbling blocks in the future. No road is ever without its hills and valleys. However, IAEI has in place all those tools it takes to lower the hills and raise the valleys so the road is as smooth as it can be made.
“We must realize that although each of us is a small grain of sand, we are all a part of the beach. Neither the beach nor we can survive without the other. So it is with IAEI. Sand can be described as noncohesive granulated soil. My challenge to each of us is to work together to forge each grain of sand into a cohesive IAEI that is healthier, stronger, more vigorous and capable of advancing its goals and objectives.