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Movin' On

December 11, 2008
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Life is like a book and each phase of one’s life a chapter. I have just completed another chapter in my personal novel – it’s titled The IICRC Presidency. It’s been a little over two years since I accepted the position and I have to admit, it has been a very busy time.

Before I was elected, I sent the board of directors a list of goals I hoped to accomplish during my presidency. Some of the items on that list seemed to be “no brainers” like completing the S520 Mold Remediation Standard revision and appointing new committee chairs. Other goals were a little loftier, such as introducing new certifications to meet the growing needs of IICRC registrants, growing the number of Certified Firm from 4,500 to over 6,000 and appointing fresh-thinking new leaders for IICRC committees.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to accomplish all my goals. I am, however, proud of the many that I, with help from my leadership team, did achieve.

It’s been quite a learning experience. I never imagined I would have to help locate and hire a new attorney after the untimely death of the IICRC’s long-time friend and counsel, Mark Hansen, as well as deal with the threat of lawsuits and engage in time-consuming politics with other industry organizations (and even special interest groups within the IICRC). Unfortunately, I guess that’s the way of the world these days.

Anyway, it’s time to turn the page and go on to the next chapter of my life. I wish the future leaders of IICRC great success and suggest they try to accomplish a few goals I wasn’t able to complete during my administration.

First and foremost, try to bring more diversity to the organization, especially to the board of directors, through the shareholder association reps or at-large seats. Our industry is made up of numerous ethnic groups, yet 93 percent of the IICRC board represents only one group: white, middle-aged men. Diversity should also include attracting and including others from similar industries like professional housekeepers or hard-surface specialists so that the IICRC can expand its reach into other related professions. The IICRC board needs to look for new, young “blood” in the industry and help develop their leadership skills. They are the future of the IICRC, the ones who are open to new industry trends, who think “out of the box.”

We should all remember that the seven last words of a dying organization are, “We’ve never done it that way before.”

It’s also time to recognize the fact that to grow the IICRC beyond its 46,000 registrants, it now takes full time professionals, not just over-worked volunteers who can only attend to IICRC duties after their “day job” is complete. After two years of trying to juggle my business and my volunteer presidential duties, one of my key goals was to have a paid president in place before my term was complete. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, although a search committee is now being considered. Over the past five terms, the IICRC president has had to sacrifice his or her business interests for the “good of the IICRC.”

The IICRC needs to set realistic goals and time lines for achieving those goals. And there needs to be accountability for meeting those goals. In the past, certification categories have been revised every three years. Now it takes from three to six years to complete a revision. That’s no way to keep up with the advancements in our industry, is it? Why does it take do long?  Well, most likely because IICRC depends on volunteers to perform that function instead of hiring qualified professionals to perform the task before allowing a committee of volunteers to review it and eventually “sign off on it.”

The same is true of our Standards writing process. In spite of the extra burden the ANSI process creates, it shouldn’t take almost five years to revise a single standard. That kind of ineffectiveness wastes volunteer time, intellectual capital and IICRC funds. The new IICRC leaders need to investigate alternate options and processes that similar organizations use when writing their Standards.

Lastly, whenever decisions are made in committees or at board meetings, always keep in mind, “What is in the best interest of the IICRC registrants?” Board members and committee chairs alike need to put aside any and all biases and personal agendas and think about the guys and gals in the field performing the services that IICRC certifications cover. They are the people the board of directors should represent.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t thank some of my greatest supporters during my presidency: Tom Hill, IICRC administrator, Lindsay Barlow, IICRC assistant administrator and the entire KCI staff; Jeff Bishop, former IICRC technical advisor; Lee Zimmerman, IICRC past-president and Joe Dobbins, past certification council chair. They were always there to support me when I needed their advice and help. I couldn’t have accomplished many of my goals without them. And I’d also like to thank my wonderful parents, children and friends, as well as many of you who have encouraged me with kind words and praise.  It has been a great comfort knowing so many people care about the IICRC and its leader.

And so, on to the next chapter of my life’s story. I’m looking forward to a few more adventures and I hope to see some of you along the way.  I will become the North American director of WoolSafe and begin co-teaching the Senior Carpet Inspector course with Jeff Bishop. In these roles, I hope to continue helping others in this industry by sharing my knowledge and years of experience.

 As I tell my children, “Mom’s not done yet!”

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