In January, I was able to spend a week in Orlando, FL attending the AESF Week Environmental Conference and Exhibit. I had already put together an article for this issue of Products Finishing but am compelled to change the subject due to some realizations that I have come to during the past several industry events.
Nearly four years ago, I attended my first surface finishing trade show in Cleveland, OH. It was AESF Sur/Fin ’96, and I was truly impressed by the involvement of the attendees in association meetings. A few weeks prior to this event, I had started working with a commodity supplier, and I was really excited. During the next couple of years, I reluctantly got involved with several association committees myself because I felt it would be good for business, and, you know, it was. I developed good contacts through these committees and events and, have become great friends with many of these individuals, even with some that are competitors.
At this point, four years into my career in the finishing industry, my feelings on volunteering with these associations have changed. Volunteering in our associations is actually a great networking tool. My feelings are clearly based on personal experiences as well as watching other people that are actively involved with the industry. Friends and colleagues like Bill Fields, B.J. Mason, Frank Dunigan, Paul Frank, Leif Harland, Frank Altmayer, Blair Vandivier, Bill Saas, Steve Scales, Milt Stevenson and numerous others have shown me that by being involved, you have a voice. By using that voice we make stronger associations that enable our industry to effectively communicate with one another and provide strength in numbers when dealing with the government and community issues we face daily. This networking can lead to business growth as well.
Many of you have talents in specific areas that relate to our industry. Knowledge of chemicals, metals, equipment, waste treatment and management are just a few of the talents we possess collectively. In my case, I have been able to devote the past four years toward the development of Internet projects that serve the finishing industry. I have used these skills even further by assisting our associations, through committees, on how to deal with the Internet for their membership. I would like to challenge each of you to get involved with our associations. Your skills or knowledge could be a strong asset in building a stronger finishing community for the future. By working together, we can continue to build on the strong foundation that is already in place.
Lastly, I would like to encourage the younger generation of finishers and suppliers to become actively involved. By doing this, we can bring new and fresh perspectives to the industry. Many of the talents that we possess are still in development, but together we can build strong alliances for the betterment of our industry. We are the future of finishing. Ante me in, how about you?
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