One of the benefits of being president of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry is getting invited to industry events all around the world. I could not turn down the invitation from our Down Under brothers and sisters to attend the AWCI of Australia and New Zealand’s 68th Annual Conference in Tasmania, the Australian state about 150 miles south of mainland Australia.
Our U.S. delegation (AWCI Executive Vice President/CEO Steve Etkin attended with me) was asked to give several presentations as part of our invitation. We presented on the U.S. construction economic cycle from boom to bust, immigration reform, attracting millennials into the workplace, innovative products, energy conservation codes, hiring decisions by general contractors, and four generations in the workplace—one of the models being developed for the new AWCI Project Manager Course.
On the social side, being a self-centered, isolated American, I have to admit I didn’t even know there was a Tasmania other than the fictional one that is home to the animated Tasmanian Devil in the Warner Bros. cartoon. My wife Jackie and I were overwhelmed with the hospitality and extra efforts to make us feel welcome by staff and everyone in attendance. They really knew how to host a festive time, with extended cocktail parties and spirited lawn games. Tours were given of their beautiful country side, quaint villages, wineries and world renowned whiskey distilleries. The high percentage of association members who attend their convention is to be admired.
It is funny that while we knew it was an English-speaking country, we were tripped up by accents and some words of the very animated citizens. When in conversation, I frequently asked them to slow down a bit and explain terminology. For instance, what we call a hanger, they call a fixer, and our taper or finisher is a stopper down there. Framers are partitioners, stud and joist bridging are noggins or dwangs. It really is a beautiful accent.
But of all the differences we may have, we share an industry and desire to get better at it. I talked to several attendees (delegates as they call themselves) who were planning to come to our convention in Las Vegas, March 30–April 3. Let’s welcome them with open arms! And, I think you’d be well served by making it out to their convention someday, expand your horizons meeting some fellow fixers and stoppers.
In addition to being 2013–2014 president of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry, Daley is president of Daley’s Drywall & Taping, Inc., San Jose, Calif.