In 2016, ASHI enacted the “Year of the Chapter,” a program highlighting the benefits of chapter membership, and especially geared toward those who may not yet belong to a chapter. We spotlighted how ASHI provides development opportunities, offers tools to assist with daily business operations and emphasizes educational opportunities for all chapters. This assistance can be especially valuable to chapters with limited funds or capabilities. All ASHI members can benefit from chapter membership, whether it be with an established chapter or one of our new “virtual” chapters.
In 2017, we’ll expand this program to recognize those new ASHI members who attend a chapter meeting or InspectionWorld® to pursue personal education and expand their knowledge about tools and ideas that can assist them in their inspection business. All of this personal enrichment is enhanced by the benefits that come from simply meeting fellow inspectors who can offer support and camaraderie.
As ASHI’s new President, let me tell you how I came to home inspection. Back in 1987, while working in the underwriting section of a major financial institution, I was continually asked if I could do home inspections. Because of a potential conflict of interest, I had to decline. Then, on a Friday in April 1996, I (along with 286 other field underwriters) was dismissed. The following Monday, my former coworkers and I were all retained as independent contractors. I completed my first home inspection two days later and have been working in the great profession of home inspection ever since.
I enrolled in a home inspection class at a local technical college and the instructor informed the class about an organization known as “ASHI.” Another student added that ASHI had chapters and there was one in my area known as “Great Lakes.” Soon after, I joined both ASHI and the Great Lakes Chapter (GLC). That was back in 1998, and in the years since, I’ve sincerely enjoyed my relationship with ASHI, at both national and chapter levels.
However, I’ll admit that it didn’t start off so smoothly. When I attended my first GLC meeting, a daylong educational session in Cincinnati, I entered the classroom not knowing anyone. I sat in a corner of the room, watching and learning, and I remember I didn’t feel comfortable and sort of decided that this ASHI and GLC thing may not be best for me. Before lunch, I’d made up my mind to stick it out for the day, return to Wisconsin and not attend any more conferences, and maybe not even renew my membership.
Then something happened. Another inspector walked up to me and said “hello.” A simple greeting and a handshake. The inspectorwho greeted me was the President of the chapter at that time, Frank Lesh (ASHI’s current executive director). Frank escorted me around, introducing me to other inspectors and officers within GLC. I remember their sincere greetings and exchanges.
As the day went on, the conference was simply great—very informative and clearly a benefit for all in attendance. I left the conference thinking that ASHI may be the real thing after all and I should give it a chance. I went on to attend future chapter conferences with enjoyment. In 2000, I had a similar experience when I attended my first InspectionWorld® in San Diego. There I met fellow inspectors from the ASHI community and the experience was very rewarding.
As you see from my story, ASHI probably would have lost a member as a result of my initial experience at the first chapter event I attended. Not because ASHI and the chapter produced educational programs that were lacking or because I expected a big fanfare to welcome me. But that simple “hello” from an ASHI member and the sincere “how can I help you” made me feel at ease. I’m sure many of you have similar stories of when you first became involved with ASHI.
I believe it’s important to welcome everyone to our chapter and national activities. Let’s give our members a chance to express their wants and desires while they enjoy the benefits that ASHI and its chapters offer. There are many opportunities to join national or chapter committees or the Council of Representatives. Our chapters’ directors and officers need your experiences. I believe ASHI is a family, and a family works together for the benefit of all.
So, what do we ask of you? Nothing more than a simple gesture of welcome to new members whenever you can. Yes, a simple handshake and “how can I help you” is all that’s needed. You’ll find that not only is this meaningful for that member, but it will be rewarding to you as well. I’m hopeful that ASHI can build bridges from our many established chapters that extend out to our newer virtual ones, and that through this outreach ASHI will have many new members for life.