My company has been a member of AFSA since 2004. I had no idea at the time we joined just how beneficial the membership would become. I was aware that the American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) was a good, member-oriented organization for the merit shop contractor because I started working in the industry with a company that was a member.
However, it wasn’t until 2004 that I developed a real appreciation for the efforts of AFSA. After joining, I got involved with our local Carolinas Chapter and met some great peers in the industry. We immediately started utilizing the training and membership benefits offered by AFSA. To this day we still take advantage of the opportunity to use AFSA resources to train our employees, which keeps us up-to-date on codes and industry issues.
In addition to the training, we have experienced the benefits of the networking opportunities offered by AFSA at functions like the national conventions. My first convention was in 2008 in Washington, D.C. That was where I began networking with members from across the nation. It was an amazing experience to meet so many professional people in our industry and talk with them about the issues and successes we all have been through over the years. I was really surprised that so many peers offered advice and direction to me, a newcomer. I have continued to network at every opportunity since that time and it has paid dividends in so many ways over the years. For example, in 2009, I was facing a challenge from a local North Carolina customer who was a consultant for a project in Louisiana. They needed a fire sprinkler contractor for a design build project and the customer insisted we join the team. I remembered a connection I had made in 2004 with a contractor from Louisiana and so I reached out to AFSA member Linda Biernacki, president of Fire Tech Systems, Inc., for advice. She unselfishly helped me set up a plan to assist my customer with the project. She and I worked together, along with our staff members, to close the deal and successfully complete the project. Linda and I, along with our staff members, have remained close and we always catch up on our adventures at the national conventions.
Our AFSA membership has been rewarding in so many ways, it is impossible to detail them all in this article. I would recommend AFSA membership and involvement to every fire sprinkler contractor. You will be glad you did!