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Members Celebrate Milestone Anniversaries

As the American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) celebrates its 38th anniversary in 2019, we also recognize those members who are celebrating milestone membership anniversaries. The member companies featured have belonged to AFSA for 15 or more years of continuous membership.

Several members are celebrating milestone anniversaries in May and June including Associate Member BlazeMaster® Fire Protection Systems and Contractor Member JCI/Grinnell. BlazeMaster’s Marketing, Sales, and Innovation Leader Mark Knurek and JCI/Grinnell’s Senior Manager of Industry Relations Terry Victor shared some of their favorite AFSA memories and things they’ve learned during their time in the fire protection industry. 

How did you get involved in the fire sprinkler industry? Knurek: “BlazeMaster® CPVC was introduced to the marketplace not long after AFSA was formed. Prior to 1984 there was only one option for fire protection— metal. I joined Lubrizol as the head of BlazeMaster CPVC’s Americas business and developed a passion that has only grown since.”

Terry Victor

Victor: “I started as a design trainee with ‘Automatic’ Sprinkler Corporation of America (ASCOA) in Baltimore, Maryland, and worked my way up through the ranks and was a district general manager when Grinnell Fire Protection acquired ASCOA in 1995.”

How did you get involved with AFSA? Knurek: “We have been actively involved in and supporting various councils and committees over the years including the Manufacturers and Suppliers (M/S) Council, Apprenticeship & Education, and Public Education & Awareness. It is extremely important for us to stay informed and lend our part to the industry any way that we can.”

Victor: “I’ve been involved at the local level since the late ‘90s with the AFSA Chesapeake Bay Chapter, attending chapter meetings, doing presentations on topics of interest to members, and participating in charitable golf tournaments. I started attending annual AFSA conventions in 2007 when I was supervising the apprenticeship program at SimplexGrinnell, and have been presenting seminars at the annual convention since 2012. I’ve also presented several webinars for AFSA over the years.”

What is your favorite or most used AFSA benefit? Knurek: “I always enjoy watching the apprentice competition and its ability to nurture future talent for the industry. A truly special moment was watching James Golinveaux’s acceptance of the Parmelee Award a few years ago. His heartfelt comments demonstrated the passion and conviction so many in this industry have.”

Victor: “For Grinnell as a company it’s the apprentice training program. Our 25th anniversary coincides with Grinnell becoming an open-shop contractor throughout most areas of the United States. AFSA’s Fire Sprinkler Fitter Apprentice Training program became our primary source of sprinkler fitter training and we’ve graduated hundreds of highly qualified journeymen from that program over the years.”

What is your favorite AFSA and/or AFSA convention memory? Knurek: “I always enjoy watching the apprentice competition training on BlazeMaster pipe and fitting installation. We are grateful to provide the material used for the competition as there is nothing better than hands-on training.”

Victor: “There are so many. AFSA goes to the greatest places for the Awards Party. The Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC; Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville; Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts; Universal Studios in Orlando; and the luau in Kona, Hawaii all stand out, but my favorite was on the USS Midway in San Diego. Touring the aircraft carrier and climbing into the airplanes on deck was fun. The highlight for my wife and me was the swing band, singers, and dancers.”

What is the most significant change you’ve seen in AFSA or the industry during your time? Knurek: “The development and advancement of online technology to improve communications and improve the quality of education and training.”

Victor: “AFSA has grown to be more than just an association providing apprentice training. AFSA has provided quality training in all areas of need for sprinkler contractors including for designers, inspectors, sales personnel, project managers, general managers, and business owners.

“The sprinkler industry has gone through dramatic changes over the years with new technologies being brought to market that allows more efficient installations of systems, offers protection for more hazards and storage arrangements and provides better methods for inspecting, testing and maintaining water-based fire protection systems.”

What’s the key ingredient to your success? Knurek: “A passion to win and create unique solutions that matter in the market, along with creating and fostering genuine, long-standing relationships.”

Victor: “Letting my Lord Jesus Christ lead me throughout my career. There’s no way I could have planned out the steps that led to where I am today. I trusted in God to open doors if it was in His will for my life, and I went through them. I’ve prospered while the company I worked for went through an acquisition and two mergers. I’ve been challenged with new positions and responsibilities. Each time I trusted in God and received the blessings He had in store for me.”

If I weren’t working in fire protection, I would be… Knurek: “… a pilot.”

Victor: “… probably a park ranger at one of the national parks or a natural resource officer. I love the outdoors, our national parks, history, and protecting the environment.”

Happy Anniversary! AFSA looks forward to celebrating with more members! Recognition in Sprinkler Age will be done for members celebrating 15 years or more of continuous membership in five-year anniversary increments and is available to all membership types.

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