Together We are Stronger
Membership in the American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) brings a measurable return on investment (ROI). Like any business decision, contributing dues to a trade association must bring value for the members and for the fire sprinkler industry in ways that matter. When I was a younger man starting out in this industry, membership meant participation and knowledge. We didn’t have the internet or as many electronic distractions (like color television). Ok, there may not have been dinosaurs roaming the jobsites, but we did have pagers and two-way radios for communication. We had fewer options, thin-wall pipe was relatively new in our industry, and power tools had a cord. Obviously, we can get information easier and in other ways in this modern era.
What I see now in hindsight is that my employers of yesteryear were more interested in having a well-educated workforce than they were fearful of exposing their people to other companies that might attempt to lure them away. Turnover is expensive, and no right-minded employer wants to spend money developing people for other companies to benefit from. I understand this concern, but it is short-sighted.
I remember as a child being told of the woodcutter who was too busy cutting wood to stop and sharpen his ax. Sometimes, we need to take a moment to see what working smarter can bring us. Today’s workforce is not fooled by short-term gains but rather is attracted to those destination employers who are willing to be inclusive to let the next generation of people have a say and see a longer runway in terms of longer-term opportunities.
Of course, pay and benefits matter, but they matter less to this generation than time. Work-life balance matters more today than it did to my generation (commonly called geezers) who worked to provide for family and retirement goals.
Membership in AFSA can help you develop your business and your people in substantive ways that will help ensure you are the employer of choice in your markets. The AFSA mission states, “We are the voice of the merit shop fire sprinkler contractor. We educate and train the industry while promoting fire protection systems to save lives and property.” This statement, these words guide the activities, program development, and decisions we make every day here at AFSA. Where we dedicate our time, energy, and resources are constantly evaluated—measured against those two sentences.
When your company is a member, your employees are members, and we deliver on ways to support them so they can support your company and impact your bottom line in measurable ways. Our SprinklerForum provides online chat opportunities with peers to discuss challenges and problems for solutions that may not be obvious. Our technical services group responds to technical questions within a day, in most cases, saving time and money for our members. This alone is worth the price of admission.
AFSA offers the industry best-in-class training for designers, apprentices, and inspectors, and we provide programs few individual companies could afford to develop or provide on their own. Still looking for the ROI in AFSA membership? We are stronger together, and we are listening to our members with a willingness to invest in the programs you tell us are relevant and needed for your individual and collective growth. We want to help fill the pipeline with a knowledgeable and productive workforce in fulfillment of our stated mission.
AFSA cannot meet this goal alone. We need help from our members. We are stronger together because this is your association. We need your help to get others in your region to join and participate in strengthening our association. We need you to take advantage of our program offerings so we can continue to afford the cost associated with developing and delivering them. An investment in your workforce is an investment in the future of your company and your industry. Helping us help you is more than a movie tagline… it’s a lifeline. Fire it up! Get involved and pull others into this circle! Together, we can deliver the return on investment that makes us stronger. As we continue to come out of the COVID bubble, AFSA staff members are looking forward to seeing you in person at a chapter meeting soon.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bob Caputo, CET, CFPS, is president of AFSA. He currently serves as chair of NFPA 24/291 Private Water Supply Piping Systems committee and as an alternate member of NFPA 13 Sprinkler System Installation Criteria committee. Caputo has written and presented seminars throughout the world on fire protection and life-safety systems and has developed AFSA and NFPA education and training materials.