Our Long and Crazy Ride
Somehow it seems appropriate that on Presidents Day 2017 I am writing the last “President’s Letter” of my term as the AGA President. I can’t help but reflect on the fact that I did this very same thing twenty-one years ago in April of 1996! Ah, what progress we’ve made on what some might characterize as a long and crazy ride.
I actually dug into my archives and re-read that “President’s Report” as it was called back then. It laid out the initial timeframe of my first stint as President and spoke of an AGA whose membership had declined, whose budget was in deficit, whose leadership was in flux (no pun intended!), whose staff was demoralized, and whose deliverables were questionable. I wrote ... “the AGA appeared to be concentrating more on justifying its own existence than on providing programs and support for its members or furthering the demand for galvanizing.” But it also sang the praises of how the AGA reacted to those challenges and the progress that had been made through the hiring of strong leadership (Phil and Dr. Tom), the leadership of a hands-on and active Board, the restructuring of both the marketing and technical staffs’ approaches, and a total commitment to serving the membership. (To that end, the AGA had decided to engage the internet that year and began promoting their online home page.)
So, have we come a long way? For starters, just look at our website… The AGA disseminates information each year at a record pace with each year surpassing the one before it. And it’s done at a fraction of the cost when compared to the days gone by. It also utilizes YouTube videos to educate the nuances of the galvanizing process and to promote the benefits of the galvanized coating. It is easily navigated, quick responding, promotes the industry and its membership, and that membership is provided with its own “members only” section that keeps everyone in the loop.
And there’s so much more to the Marketing department these days. Where it used to be accomplished by the occasional Galvanizeit! Seminar; now, we’re on tv! The Innovations tv segment narrated by Ed Begley,Jr. was aired on the Discovery channel and continues to be seen on the Fox Business channel. Early this year, the marketing group conducted neuroscience research to determine why architects and engineers view advertising so we could become more effective in our approach – an approach that has budgeted for and successfully turned out advertising campaigns year in and year out. They also managed a live webcast that informed participants about the crumbling infrastructure, became actively involved and integral to many of the specification and marketing groups that affect our industry, and increased our involvement with the education community.
On the Technical side, you could start and stop with Dr. Tom who has become an acknowledged worldwide galvanizing expert through becoming a Fellow in the ASTM organization while heading up the very specification committee that rules our world. But we won’t stop there as the department has trained 482 Master Galvanizers over the years (28 last year), has developed the inspection online seminar that trains those who are tasked with holding our coating to the proper standards, has yearly research programs that help fill the void created by the re-organization of ILZRO (high strength bolts, hydrogen embrittlement, slip critical testing, stormwater testing referencing the Biotic Ligand model), has performed and published wire and chain testing results for use in the galvanizing plant, and has created a Safety video, a processing video, a SWPP manual and a Safety manual.
If all these accomplishments don’t get you excited, consider this: last year the AGA reached the financial reserve target set by the Board over a decade ago to sufficiently operate the Association for one year should there be a severe event in the marketplace imperiling membership. Couple that with the fact the AGA will own Suite 108 of 6881 South Holly Circle within the next three years and you have an organization that is on solid footing (I can’t help myself – no pun intended!) and poised to lead this industry for years to come.
So, I guess it has been a long and crazy ride, but it’s been my pleasure (twice) to serve this Association in this capacity and I’d like to thank the Board of Directors, the Executive Committee, Phil, Tom, and Melissa, and the rest of the AGA staff.