30 Years of Experience

James M. Keller

July 2008

Please allow me this time to introduce myself as I will be filling this column space for the next year as president of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry.

As I noted in my introduction speech at AWCI’s convention in Las Vegas this past March, for good or bad, I have been involved in this industry all my life. I grew up in Toledo, Ohio, and came to work in the family business—James A. Keller Inc., a unionized drywall, metal framing, lath, plaster and spray fireproofing contractor. Today, I live in Louisville, Ky., and am a partner in Grayhawk, LLC, a commercial drywall, framing, EIFS prefabricated panel manufacturer. We also prefabricate cold-formed trusses.

My father was very involved in the AWCI’s predecessor, the Contracting Plasterers’ and Lathers’ International Association. He knew the value of this organization, even back then, which is why he wanted me to get involved. My first experience with the AWCI was in 1979 when I participated in the first meeting of the Young Executives Council.

Over the years, I have seen that council grow from a whimsical idea of several insightful board members into one of the most, if not the most, instrumental groups of the AWCI. Its youth has promoted new ideas that have helped the association grow into one of the leading construction associations in the country today. The list of past AWCI presidents from the council impressively numbers about 10 over the past 17 or so years. This group became what is now known as the Academy and then eventually the AWCI Education Committee, both of which have different identities today.

I have seen many changes at the association during my 30 years here. I have seen it run into some massive problems, eventually solve them and go on to installing the fantastic and irreplaceable CEO Steven Etkin. I look forward to working with him on some unique agenda items that we have already started in motion.

I hope my experience can be put to good use over the year, helping the AWCI continue to grow and meet your needs as industry leaders within the association.