2018 Western Section President
As a farm boy looking forward to graduation in the late 1960’s, my life after high school looked to be one of two directions. I could either plan on a few years of military service with Uncle Sam or head off to college. When the NASA space program peaked with the moon landing in 1969 I decided to study engineering and headed off to Iowa State University.
One of the many part-time jobs I worked to earn my way through college was in the maintenance department of a large federal animal research facility. While working there I met an electrician that I enjoyed working with and he encouraged me to consider the electrical trade. After graduating from college, I had a few disappointing job ventures and soon realized I wanted something different. I decided to give my electrical friend’s advice a try and applied at a few electrical shops. In 1977, I went to work for an electrical contractor where I was able to enroll in an electrical apprenticeship program. I earned my journeyman license in 1981 and spent many successful years with that contractor supervising residential and commercial projects.
In 1994, I accepted the position of City Electrical Inspector. I now had an 8-5 job with a benefit package that fit well with my young family and aching body. However, shortly after starting the new position, two things occurred that cultivated my career as an electrical inspector and would eventually lead me to this podium tonight.
First, I learned that there several ways to do electrical installations correctly. One of the disadvantages of working for only one contractor was that I only learned their way of doing things. As I started looking at the work of other electricians, I questioned many of the installations. When challenged to find a code reference to justify the deficiency report, I spent many hours with my nose in the NEC. I finally realized that the code not only provided a guideline to achieve minimum standards but often allowed several ways to achieve that goal.
Secondly, after all those years as an electrician, I heard about the IAEI. I was impressed with the magazines that were on the desk when I started the job so I became a member. With a little prodding from fellow electrical inspectors I decided to attend my first Iowa Chapter meeting in 1995 to see what it was all about. I met other inspectors who shared ideas and got my first exposure to the great education provided by the IAEI. Here is where I honed my code skills so I could return to my job as a better electrical inspector. Of course, the nominating committee saw me as fresh meat and talked me into becoming a member of the executive board. This got me more involved with the educational part of the meeting and I quickly progressed to become president of the Iowa Chapter. I attended my first Western Section meeting at Sioux Falls in 1995. I was so impressed with the professional education at this level that I convinced my employer to increase my budget to allow attendance of future Western Section meetings. I took my wife to the 1997 meeting in St. Louis and she enjoyed the spouse program so much that she has been accompanying me to these meetings ever since.
In 2008 an opportunity arose that allowed me to culminate my career as an electrical inspector. The Iowa state legislature enacted an electrical program that required statewide licensing and inspections. I was hired as one of the inspector supervisors and had a predominate role in developing the policies and procedures of a successful program. I was also involved in the hiring and training of our new electrical inspectors, only a few of which had any prior inspection experience. Utilizing the knowledge I had acquired through my IAEI experience, we were able to knit this group of new recruits into a professional and cohesive inspection team. Since most of our customers had never been regulated or inspected before, our primary objective in the first few years focused on education. Many inspections turned into a one-on-one training opportunity as we strived to earn the trust and respect of the electrical contractors. An enjoyable part of my job was to provide free training sessions at regional electrician and utility meetings. As with any new program, some reorganization occurred as the program evolved. When I retired last year, I was the supervisor for all the state electrical inspectors.
I want to take this opportunity to thank IAEI for being such a keystone in my rewarding electrical career and allowing me to advance to the presidency of the Western Section. These annual meetings provide a great opportunity to interact with the individuals directly involved with the electrical industry and take this information back to our local chapters. I realize how pivotal the state chapters are to the organization and look forward to attending as many state meetings as the opportunity presents.