As I sit here this morning and reflect back on the last couple of weeks, it is hard for me personally to not just be thrilled. As we know, every two years the AFSA Board of Directors has a change in officers. I have been given the honor of serving as Chairman of this incredible association. When I look at the list of names of the past Chairmen and look at the impact they have had on the industry, it is a little humbling for me to add my name to such an esteemed list. I would also like to congratulate the rest of our executive committee: Ted Wills, First Vice Chair; Jack Medovich, Second Vice Chair; Linda Biernacki, Secretary; and Paul DeLorie, Treasurer.
I would be remiss if I did not first of all thank outgoing Chairman Michael Meehan. Under his leadership as Chairman of Board of Directors these last two years, we have witnessed growth in membership, chapters developed, and overall strength of our association within the fire sprinkler industry. All of this was happening while we were navigating through a change in the position of president of our association. Steve Muncy’s decision to retire after 28 years of very dedicated service to our association led to the hiring of our current president Frank Mortl III, CAE. It was a very eventful two years for Michael.
At the time of this writing, we have just finished the largest convention in the history of our industry: AFSA36: Convention, Exhibition & Apprentice Competition. The participation numbers for this year’s show in Las Vegas were unprecedented: over 250 fire sprinkler contractor organizations, 136 individual exhibitor companies, 11 designer groups, and 32 Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs). The total number of individuals registered was 1,411. Representatives from 29 chapters throughout the country and Canada were present. Participants enjoyed a fantastic lineup of seminars as well as an equally impressive group of presenters. Most seminars were full to capacity. I want to thank Marlene Garrett and the outstanding staff at AFSA for all of their hard work. It was truly the best convention I have ever attended.
For me, one of the biggest highlights at this year’s convention was the presentation at the general session by Frank. He talked about what it means to be a part of the “AFSA family.” As he spoke, I could only think back over the years about the friendships that I have personally made at these conventions and the friendships I have seen others make. We see each other once a year and it truly is like coming to a family reunion. The “AFSA family,” for a lot of us attending, became the theme for the show.
As we all know, the festive mood of Las Vegas was shattered on the Sunday evening following our convention. Words can not begin to describe how the actions of one sick individual can destroy so many lives. As far as we know, none of our convention participants remained in Las Vegas through Sunday. Some of us did have friends and family that attended the music concert. Please keep all of those that attended the tragic show in your thoughts and prayers.
I am so excited about this next year serving as Chairman of AFSA. As an organization, we have so much to offer. I encourage everyone to get as involved as you can. Our association is strong; our chapters are strong. Become a part of the “AFSA family.”
Wayne Weisz is Chairman of the AFSA Board of Directors.