AGA – Then, Now, & Tomorrow
Let me start by saying what an honor and privilege it is to serve the galvanizing industry as President of the AGA, especially when I think of the list of past presidents and their significance to the industry. I remember the first TechForum I attended 30 years ago. Looking around the room, I was humbled to be in the presence of so many of the great names in the association and awed by their depth of knowledge, determination and entrepreneurial spirit. I was amazed at how fierce competitors in the marketplace could come together under the umbrella of the Association to solve problems and advance the position of hot-dip galvanizing in North America. I have the privilege of being involved in numerous associations in varying industries and I can truly say there is no better group of men and women than in the AGA. I would not be here today if not for the trust and wisdom that my longtime mentor and friend in the industry, Julian Dozer, had placed in me 30 years ago when he hired me as the manufacturing engineer at Boyles Galvanizing. Thanks Julian for believing in me. I encourage all senior members of the industry to reach out and mentor the young guns. How we develop and grow the next generation of industry leaders will be the key to the Association’s growth and survival.
The American Galvanizers Association would not be the great organization without the guiding hand of Phil Rahrig, Tom Langill and Melissa Lindsley. This team’s drive to see the industry grow coupled with the hard work and dedication of the staff members is the glue that holds this association together. Thank you for all of your efforts. Last, but certainly not least, is the unwavering support of the sustaining members. Their financial and technical support throughout the years continues to be the wind beneath the Association’s wings and I would challenge the membership to take time to let the sustaining members know what a vital role they play and how much they are appreciated.
The North American galvanizing industry is facing some tough challenges ahead. According to Phil Rahrig, in 2016 approximately 20% of the North American galvanizing market was supplied by imports, a 28% increase year-over-year. This represents a loss of 65,000 jobs in the steel fabrication industry, 13,000 man-years in the galvanizing industry and 2,000 jobs in the steel industry since 2008. The Australian galvanizing market and the steel fabricators, one of the strongest markets 20+ years ago, faced a similar challenge. The flood of imported fabricated galvanized steel into Australia wreaked havoc on the local fabricators and galvanizers to the point they are now a shadow of their former self. The North American fabricators and galvanizers need to learn from the Australia decline and band together to create a united front. Once again, Phil is ahead of the curve and has done an excellent job in bringing this dilemma to the attention of local and national governmental entities; however, we cannot expect him to carry the water alone. We need to keep our ears to the ground and discuss this issue with our local fabricators in an effort to identify projects that are in jeopardy of overseas sourcing. Bring these projects to the forefront using the local media and be willing to address your local and national business development agencies in an effort to turn the tide. Together we can and will overcome, setting a solid foundation on which to build our future.