Supporting Our Trade Associations
I keep hearing people say, "Trade associations are dying off, they are going to disappear, there are no benefits," or "I am already an IICRC-certified firm, I do not need to meet and socialize with my competition."
What people do not realize is that trade associations represent the very roots of the IICRC as we know it today. People who think that after they become IICRC certified or their company is an IICRC-certified firm that there is no need to belong to a trade association are misinformed. The reality is that trade associations offer some very significant benefits to the professional cleaner, restorer and inspector.
Certification and association membership are two very different things. We take IICRC-approved courses for different disciplines. These courses are purely educational. IICRC certification can ultimately lead to becoming an IICRC-certified firm. A listing on the IICRC Referral Network and other benefits are provided to those who participate in the certified firm program. This listing can lead to national exposure to carpet and upholstery manufacturers, insurance carriers and the different levels of state, provincial and federal government, who are now starting to mandate the use of IICRC standards and certification.
We qualify and join trade associations for different reasons and benefits, like discounts on fuel through fleet purchasing programs, discounted merchant credit card rates, business and personal insurance coverage under discounted group rates and more. Some associations have a membership that may include different links of the carpet chain, like carpet retailers, distributors, manufacturers, installers, inspectors or restoration companies.
The opportunity to network with other business professionals in your service area can lead to thousands of dollars in business for those who think outside the box. Most trade associations offer discounted pricing for members who take association-sponsored certification courses. The potential savings far outweighs the cost of the annual membership dues.
IICRC cleaning standards suggest that quality firms are members of trade associations, which encourage high ethical standards and promote continuing education. As IICRC certification categories expand, many new industries are brought into our scope. A good example is how the IICRC S520 Mold Remediation Standard and Reference Guide introduced IICRC to the mold remediation/indoor air quality industry. Associations like IEI, IAQA, the AmIAQ Council and NADCA are all new potential networking opportunities for all of us.
The IICRC has always supported trade associations. Over the years, many people involved at the IICRC have worked hard to promote association membership, myself included, from the time the International Cleaning and Restoration Alliance (ICRA) was founded some 13 years ago to the Connections Conventions we have today. Larry Cooper, IICRC consultant and president of Textile Consultants Inc., in Denver has been a driving force bringing together the various trade associations and helping them flourish. The Connections 2003 Convention in Las Vegas last October was the single best production, trade show and convention I have ever witnessed, and I have been to a lot of them. More than 2,000 attendees and almost 200 exhibitors. That is awesome!
There is a Connections Conference and Exhibition planned in Clearwater, Fla., July 15-17, which will have the support of at least 10 trade associations and will have the full slate of IICRC officers present, as the IICRC executive committee meeting will follow the conference. The Connections Convention and Trade Show 2004 will be in Las Vegas, Nov. 4-6, and will be followed by the semiannual IICRC certification council and board of directors meetings.
IICRC is a proud sponsor of these conventions because of what they stand for: trade associations working together for the benefit of the cleaning and restoration professional. These Connections Conventions offer tremendous educational value and the opportunity to meet and network with the leading industry professionals that you often only read about.
So have a closer look at the trade association in your area, whether it's regional, national or international, they have a lot more to offer than you might realize.