Find the time to give back to the profession by getting involved in associations.

We have reached the end of the year and it is time to celebrate. The holiday season gives us time to reflect. From all indications, many of you had a very good year financially. I know that my firm had one of its best years ever. It seemed that we were always busy.

This year I reached an important milestone as well. In October, I was elected president of the American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE). Many of you have sent me notes of congratulation. To all of you, I say thank-you.

In passing, many have asked me how I find the time to participate in ASPE, or write articles, or teach training seminars. I could say that I am very organized, but my wife would disagree with that statement. In fact, I am organized, but I do it totally differently than my wife. Mine is in my head, whereas she has everything written down and filed accordingly.

The real answer is that I find time to give back to the profession because I believe in it. I love the work that I do, and I want to be a part of making it better for everyone.

That is not to say that I do not get involved in other activities. I am also involved in church, Boy Scouts and community activities. That is the beauty of our country; there are so many areas where we can contribute.

Unfortunately, there have been comments that the next generation is changing. People are more self-centered. People don’t want to contribute. It isn’t important to participate with associations. Quite frankly, I don’t buy that.

Yeah, we all want to make the big bucks. Yeah, we all have family commitments. Yeah, there are only 24 hours in the day. But we all feel good about where we are, and we have this inherent desire to contribute and help others.

Unfortunately, the various plumbing associations have seen a drop in membership. They have also seen a drop in volunteers. Some who volunteer are not following through.

It is hard to hide the facts. Each group can show that there have been fewer members joining and more dropping their membership. Not to mention the attrition from our elderly statesmen dying.

Part of the problem is us old timers not paying enough attention to getting the younger generation involved. We need to be out there inviting them to participate. Give the younger generation an opportunity to excel in an association.

The comments that Generation X and Y don’t want to be involved with associations is hogwash. Two of my children are young adults and one is a teenager. I see them getting involved and participating. Yes, they are struggling to get by. But they haven’t forgotten their obligation to their professions. Fortunately, people have asked them to participate. Sometimes that is all it takes. I think it has also helped to see both parents involved and contributing.

Get Involved:I was at a plumbing luncheon of contractors, supply house employees and engineers yesterday. There were two very young engineers sitting next to me. They were in their 20s. They didn’t know me, and I didn’t say anything at first. I just asked them about their involvement.

Both responded that they were members of ASPE and love attending the monthly meeting. I ask them why they joined. They both responded that their boss told them they were going to join. Their boss was sitting on the other side of the table. He happens to be a friend of mine for many years.

They went on to rant and rave about the organization and how great it is to participate. They asked me how they could get more involved. Then someone at the table told the two young engineers who I was. That started a whole new conversation.

I would have sat next to some young contractor. However all of the contractors present were older than me. OK, so it was a luncheon and they were probably out on the job. Just the same, we need to invite the younger generation to join our associations.

I got started with my association because one of the very involved elder statesman asked me to be a part of the society. That invitation felt wonderful to me. He thought I had something to contribute. I joined and haven’t stopped participating for the last 27 years.

So, to the younger generation, I invite you to participate. I believe you have something to contribute.

Holiday Gift:This year, I would ask all of you to consider providing a gift to everyone. That gift would be to join one of our industry associations and participate. If you already are a member, please participate and help out. Also, if you are a member, invite the younger generation to join. Get them involved.

As the boss at my table said, “All of my employees are required to join. They need to know the importance of being a part of the industry. Furthermore, the continuing education is very important.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Not only does he require them to participate, but he pays their annual dues. If you are wondering why his company is so successful, it is because of his insight to getting his employees involved with their profession. While it is wonderful that they participate, he acknowledges that the gains back to his company far outweigh the cost of annual dues.

So check out the various plumbing industry associations. That would include PHCC, MCAA, RPA, ASSE, ASPE, IAPMO, ICC and ASHRAE. Get involved and stay involved. It is the greatest gift you can give to your industry, your customers and yourself.

As you throw another log on the fireplace, enjoy your family during this holiday season. I wish all of you a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, and a very prosperous and wonderful New Year.