Lee G. Jones / September 2015

Q: If you don’t have the time to do it right the first time, when are you going to find the time to do it right the second time?

A: That’s obviously a rhetorical question, but it very much sums up what I will miss about AWCI.

Some of you who may have missed the announcement that your humble director of technical services left AWCI July 1, 2015, to join the ranks of the willfully unemployed. After dealing with some health issues, the Mrs. and I have decided that we’re going to make the most of whatever time we have left (we’re both fine for the moment, but one never knows what the future holds) and do the things we have been putting off until tomorrow. For her, that includes visiting some exotic places, doing some volunteer work and perhaps some fundraising for hospice programs. Along with accompanying and assisting her in those pursuits, I will be polishing up my solo guitar act with an eye toward playing any hotel lounge or other small function in need of background music I might encounter in our travels.

A big lifestyle change like this seems to focus the mind on the things that really matter. One of those things is the pursuit of excellence. I’ve held several positions over the years, and I’ve witnessed or experienced the difference it makes to either strive to deliver the best product or service, versus doing just enough to get by. It is no surprise that those projects where the goal was to deliver the best possible outcome were much more satisfying than the others. Striving to do the best work also made for happier bosses and customers, which resulted in promotions or repeat business and referrals. And that’s one of the themes I’ve witnessed in action (and I hope participated in) at AWCI.

I’ve had the great fortune to work with several AWCI members who serve as officers, committee members and chairmen, program developers and facilitators. I have been regularly awe-stricken when considering how these people manage to contribute their time, expertise and energies to this association and run their businesses, too. These are people who not only understand the pursuit of excellence, they are living examples of what it looks like in action. I salute them all.

Moreover, I believe it is the pursuit of excellence that attracts people to AWCI. Its several Doing It Right programs, seminars, education sessions and awards are examples of AWCI members’ commitment to becoming the best in their respective disciplines. And what I find equally impressive is that AWCI’s members are willing to share their knowledge with each other to improve the quality of everyone belonging to the organization.

Another of the things that most matter to me is having relationships with quality people. On that score, I’ve been very fortunate at AWCI.

First, my fellow staff members here in the office are without exception kind, generous, dedicated people who will go out of their way to support one another and do whatever it takes to meet the needs and desires of AWCI’s members. In the grand scheme of things, I see that our job is to make the functioning of the association as seamless and beneficial to the members as possible, and to that end I am confident every staff member strives to make that happen.

Second are the members I’ve had the great fortune to work with on the technical side. I came to the wall and ceiling industry in 1999 after having been a tech rep in the paint industry. I knew how to be a tech rep, but I was blissfully ignorant about the various systems a wall and ceiling contractor deals with. I was greeted and shepherded through the process by several of AWCI’s technical committee members. No one ever directly criticized my lack of knowledge or ability along the way, but many were most willing to point me in the right direction whenever I reached out to them. It has been very humbling to be among so many talented, knowledgeable people who automatically keep their egos in check while working with their fellow members and me to deal with the association’s technical issues.

And last but not least are the people I have worked with while representing AWCI on several industry committees. As with working with AWCI’s technical committee members, working with these people has been both enlightening and humbling. I have learned much about many topics from these people, who again treated me as an equal. Having worked with this lot to create or improve the standards and regulations that govern the construction industry has been quite an honor. This is serious work that must be done to the highest standard because lives are in the balance. It is seldom easy, often tedious and sometimes frustrating. There are many commercial interests present vying to stay competitive while striving to ensure that the final product is the best possible for everyone. To pull that off and part as friends is quite an accomplishment, one of which I am proud to have participated in, and one I’m confident everyone involved was trying to get right.

Lee G. Jones is AWCI’s former director of technical services.