FIRST, ON A PERSONAL NOTE, I close out the year as ASHI’s President for 2014 with mixed emotions. At times, the job has been exhausting, with long hours of face-to-face meetings and many more hours of teleconferences. There have been many days away from home, and business traveling from California to New York and from Tampa to Canada. Interspersed within all of this activity, there have been articles to write, crises to address and challenges to overcome.
But the job has also been extraordinarily rewarding because during those meetings, teleconferences and trips, I have had the opportunity to meet and work with some amazing people. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that, among the list of amazing people, are the Past-Presidents of ASHI.
During my tenure as President, I’ve received incredible support from this group of gentlemen. Bill Jacques is at the top of the list as Immediate Past-President. I learned a great deal from Bill as I watched him conduct the business of ASHI in 2013 and I have relied on his counsel during the course of my presidency. To all the Past- Presidents of ASHI, I want to thank you for the sacrifices you made to serve ASHI.
On to the state of the association. I am happy to report to you that ASHI is experiencing sustained growth as our membership numbers have increased substantially for two consecutive years. Last year, Frank Lesh took over as interim executive director and because of the way he brought the staff together as a cohesive and energetic team, we made the position permanent in 2014. The growth of ASHI can be attributed to the hard work of our staff that set and exceeded their goals for membership growth.
I am also able to report that our influence inside the Washington, D.C. Beltway is growing thanks to ASHI lobbyist Randy Pence. As I’ve noted before, our relationship with HUD has turned 180 degrees and they are now reaching out to ASHI when they are looking for input on issues related to housing and home inspections. ASHI was asked by HUD to attend the National Healthy Homes Conference in Nashville and following the conference, we were asked to meet with HUD officials in Washington, D.C. to discuss ways we could work together supporting HUD initiatives that could result in new business opportunities for ASHI members in the future.
As you may be aware, this year ASHI was faced with some legal challenges from a Patent Assertion Entity (PAE) that filed a $9 million lawsuit against me, personally, for the work ASHI has undertaken to protect the inspection industry from what ASHI considers overreaching patent claims regarding the use of infrared technology in the inspection of a house. ASHI’s attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit and the judge hearing the case granted the motion and dismissed the lawsuit. While this does not resolve the questions surrounding the use of IR technology as part of a home evaluation, it is a positive step as ASHI continues to work to protect the profession.
ASHI also has a robust public relations program being implemented by public relations firm Public Communications, Inc. (PCI). With decades of experience promoting professional associations, PCI brings a wealth of experience to bear in crafting an effective PR campaign for ASHI. PCI also has an understanding of the new social electronic media and the significant opportunities available to grow brand awareness for ASHI.
ASHI is the only association representing home inspectors with a public relations firm working to promote its members to a national audience. Our members benefit from being associated with the widely recognized ASHI brand.
This year, the Council of Representatives is considering a small change in ASHI governance. The change reduces the number of directors from 15 to 12. This is designed to lower board overhead costs. I encourage you to support this effort when it comes to the membership for a vote in the spring. Money saved in overhead costs can be repurposed to improve member benefits.
Many years ago when I was hired by NASA, I had absolutely no aerospace experience. Immediately after processing in, I was summoned to the program manager’s office for a little lesson in rocket science. The PM had started to work at NASA on the day it was created, so he was a man of great experience and knowledge. He told me there were two things I needed to know about rocket science.
“First, the pointed end goes up and second, the fire comes out the bottom.” The “pointed end” represents the direction and the aim of the rocket and the fire is the force driving toward the target.
As I turn over the presidency to Alden Gibson for 2015, my vision for ASHI is that we always keep the pointed end up and the fires that drive us higher always burning, pushing ASHI higher and higher.