I enjoy reading annual economic forecasts and from all indications, we are looking forward to a very good 2019. I personally am also very interested in the old-fashioned way of economic forecasting. That is plain old talking to people around the country. How are you doing? Where do you see things going? How is your backlog shaping up?
Ever since I got involved in this industry, there have been constant economic cycles of ups and downs. The one component that remains strong throughout these cycles is contractors trying to improve their workforce. By that I mean looking for educated, skilled labor. Having that skilled workforce and building a company reputation of having such is a key to success. I think if you were to poll most contractors around the country and ask what is their biggest concern, it would be the lack of enough trained people. “I have a bunch of work and could use a few more good people,” seems to be a very typical answer when talking to contractors.
I have always been a believer in building a workforce from within. Over the 33 years of owning my company, I have relied heavily on AFSA, from its Beginning Fire Sprinkler System Planning School to apprenticeship training. AFSA has given me the educational tools to succeed to this point. AFSA’s recently created Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance (ITM) Inspector Development program has been a success on many levels. Again, for me, the ITM program has filled a need that my company has had for years. It has been that for a multitude of contractors around the country as well, as each class has been filled to capacity.
With our focus on ITM and education in this issue, AFSA has just what you need to succeed. “Learn today, earn tomorrow” is a mantra that employers and employees can get behind. Learn your trade and work hard. Invest in your company and prepare for what lies ahead. Take advantage of your AFSA membership and utilize its education and training programs including correspondence courses, seminars, schools, and free webinars.
There are many obvious rewards for all of the educational programs provided by AFSA. One of these rewards is given to a select few hard-working apprentices – the seven selected to compete at the annual AFSA National Apprentice Competition (NAC). This year is no different. Although it is early in the year, now is the time to talk to and prepare our apprentices for the first phase of testing. Let your apprentices know that with a little studying and hard work, they could very well end up as a competitor in the final competition. For those who have competed it is an experience of a lifetime – one of those “never-forget” experiences. This is a great motivational tool for apprentices. As a company, having an apprentice in the competition and company members there for support offers a very rewarding experience. (See page 45 of this issue for the NAC entry form.)
Planning is in full swing for the 26th Annual NAC and AFSA38: Convention, Exhibition & Apprentice Competition, which will be held in San Diego, October 1-4 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. More details on the convention can be found on page 10 of this issue and online at firesprinkler.org/convention. I look forward to seeing you there!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Wayne Weisz is Chairman of the Board of Directors for the American Fire Sprinkler Association.