The Last Word

Jim Keller

June 2009

This is my last column as the president of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry. Wow, what year it has been!

We have done a lot this year, but I will still be working on some issues with AWCI Executive Vice President/CEO Steve Etkin in the coming months. AWCI’s Doing It Right seminars, which are geared to management, are an example. Also, we will be fine-tuning the Academy format, and we will be introducing a new format to get our more involved members signed on as Lifetime members.

During the past year we renewed our agreement with the Ceilings & Interior Systems Construction Association regarding the INTEX Expo. This guarantees a continued future of the largest exposition for our trade in the country.

Another milestone this year is the alliance between AWCI and the EIFS Industry Members Association. It streamlines things at our offices and makes life easier for our members doing exterior insulation and finish systems.

Certainly one of the highlights of the job for me has been attending all of our functions, including committee week, our convention and visiting our chapters across the country. Meeting people for the first time and catching up with old acquaintances is a great way to get insight into what AWCI can do to help a company run more efficiently and profitably in these times.

When my term first started, little did I know this industry would end up going through one of its worst years ever. But you guys are tough and will make it through this downturn and probably be much better off for the experience.

These times make us all look at the big picture a little differently, and maybe they make us try some things we wouldn’t have tried in better times. AWCI is all about developing new ideas and ventures that will help us all be better contractors in this ever-evolving industry. It all comes down to what I have said over and over again this year: "Be involved.” You only get out what you put into something. Clearly, being involved in this association is one of—if not the best—things I have ever done to connect with my peers and come up with better and more efficient ways of doing things.

I obviously believe that my company and I are better off for this experience, and I hope I have at least made you think about a couple of new changes or issues for your own company—or even better, I hope I encouraged you to get more involved with this great organization. It doesn’t matter if your firm is small or large, this is the group of movers and shakers in the industry, and we are all better off for it.

By the way, Mike Weber from New York will be taking over in July as your new president. I am sure he will do a great job.

See you around!