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Hitting the Road

G’day, mates. That is pretty much the extent of the Australian dialect that I could comfortably pull off after spending a couple of weeks touring Down Under and then attending the Association of Wall and Ceiling Industries of Australia and New Zealand’s 73rd annual conference located in Perth, Australia. The Aussies and Kiwis certainly have a gift for colorful gab that I don’t always understand—but then they said the same about me and my Texas parlance.


When it came down to business at the conference though, we had a lot in common. There were several educational (and enlightening) seminars I attended, and one of the more interesting facets to the convention was the AWCI ANZ Apprentice Challenge, a three-day practical work event where teams of apprentice drywall mechanics compete for top honors among their peers.


There were 10 delegates from the AWCI in North America at the conference, which is quite a showing, considering the distance to Perth. My thanks go out to our hosts in Australia who gave us such a warm reception, and also to my Australian counterpart, AWCI ANZ President Steve Langridge and AWCI ANZ Executive Director Steve Fielding. The Australians and Kiwis really know how to have a good time and graciously showed us the same.


It’s been a busy period of travel for me. I also recently attended the 38th Fellowship Awards Banquet sponsored by Wall and Ceiling Industry’s Advancement Fund and the Painting and Decorating Foundation in St. Louis, Mo. Along with Steve Etkin, AWCI’s executive vice president and CEO, and Chris Williams, AWCI’s director of membership development and engagement, we were warmly welcomed at this event. The awards banquet was an impressive evening, and we enjoyed seeing the many awards presented to top projects and apprentices in the trade.


After attending both of these events, I believe that no matter what country we are in that we all seem to have some of the same issues and problems in common. It was wonderful to share ideas and possible solutions with colleagues across the states as well Australia. It is part of what makes this association special.


In addition to being 2018–2019 president of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry, Smith is president of Baker Drywall Austin, Ltd.

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