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Hawaii Conference Takeaways

As I write this, I just returned from AWCI’s Industry Executives’ Conference & Committee Meetings in Honolulu. It is such a wonderful experience to lead this group. We introduced Mike Stark, our new executive vice president and CEO, and met his wonderful wife Kelly. Mike is the perfect person to lead AWCI to the next level. We also expressed our best wishes to departing Executive Vice President & CEO Steve Etkin, and his wife Nancy, as he retires at the end of this year.


The conference brought many long-time friends and others together to share their stories about the industry. I received a lot of positive feedback on the FMI education sessions that focused on the future of the construction industry and how to prepare for a down market when it comes.


Many of the attendees belong to AWCI business forums. For those of you who don’t know, AWCI’s forums are what I see as one of the key reasons for belonging to AWCI and attending meetings like the conference. Forums are made up of wall and ceiling contractors from different geographic regions who don’t perform work in the same regions. The purpose of the forums is to bring together business owners and executives to share information confidentially about their companies and how they do business. Often the meeting agendas assign a point person to lead the group. Many participants have found lifelong friendships here, and they keep up and stay connected through visits to each other’s operations.


Recently more AWCI members have become interested in joining a forum, and I plan to add more forum groups to accommodate them. I also plan to implement guidelines and expectations for belonging to a forum. It’s a work in progress but well worth the effort for AWCI to expand this vital benefit to its members and for the benefit of our industry. If you would like to know more about AWCI’s business forums, please contact Mike Stark at


The next time we all meet will be at AWCI’s Convention & INTEX Expo at the Paris Las Vegas hotel next March. We hope to see everyone there!

In addition to being 2019–2020 president of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry, Nancy Brinkerhoff is CEO and president of Ironwood Commercial Builders in Northern California.

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