Growing Membership and Expanding Member Training Opportunities

By Ed Hugill
President of NAFED
June 2014

My Story

I can truly say I am very proud and excited about the opportunity to serve as the NAFED president for the next two years. I love the fire protection industry, and I am passionate about using my term to do whatever I can to make NAFED more relevant and even stronger than its memorable past. My board involvement started in 2009 when serving as a director-at-large; then I moved into the executive committee, serving first as treasurer and in the past year as president-elect. I have been involved in the conference committee almost every year since joining the board in 2009.

I began my career in a different place. I graduated from college in 1979 and spent the next eighteen years working in the automotive industry. I was very fortunate to work for local, regional, and national companies in the automotive industry and learned many areas of distribution, service, and management which transferred very easily into fire protection.

In 1997, a very good friend named Randy Koorsen convinced me to join his family business (Koorsen Fire & Security) and leave the automotive industry behind. I spent a total of nine years helping grow Koorsen and learning more and more every single day about the fire protection industry. In 2006, I made the decision to accept another opportunity to expand my knowledge about fire protection working on a national level. I am currently the executive vice president of Commercial Fire, Inc., located in Jacksonville, Florida. We have the unique opportunity to be a distributor member with our local fire branch and also be involved as a vendor partner working with fire equipment distributors (many who are NAFED members) across the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico.

The Last Two Years

NAFED made the decision back in 2007 to create the position of president-elect. This was a great decision to create a one-year training program/period for the next incoming president. Being in this position the last year has allowed me to watch and learn from our current president, Ken May. I remember reading Ken’s introductory article two years ago feeling confident and enthusiastic about the next two years with Ken leading NAFED. Ken very clearly spelled out two very important goals he wanted to accomplish during his presidency.

The first critical goal Ken discussed was to support the NAFED mission statement, which includes a focus on growing our members’ technical competence in the industry. This goal and focus has led to pre-conference seminars and regional conference presentations on many new service topics (fire alarm, sprinkler, engineered systems, monitoring, etc.) other than the traditional extinguisher, pre-engineered system, and exit/emergency light training programs. Ken also has worked very hard to build a bridge between NAFED and many of the other associations in our industry such as the Fire Suppression Systems Association (FSSA), Automatic Fire Alarm Association (AFAA), and American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA). We are all in the same top-level industry of fire/life safety and anything we can do to help and support each other is good long-term.

The second goal that Ken discussed two years ago was to continue to build a relationship between NAFED and the numerous state associations in our industry. The commitment to build this relationship was started by Clayton Norred who served as NAFED president from 2010–2012. We are proud to report the lines of communication have been expanded to all current state associations, and I will continue to work closely to build an even stronger bridge to benefit everyone in our industry.

Ken’s Legacy

In all organizations, the outgoing president is typically judged by two things:
1) What did they accomplish during their presidency?
2) What is the condition or current status of the organization or association?

I personally feel Ken May has accomplished a great deal the last two years, and I feel he is leaving the association strong and ready to move forward in many areas. I want to thank him on behalf of the NAFED staff, all the board members, and most importantly on a personal note for everything he has done to help me. It is very comforting for me to know that Ken, in his role as past president, will be available for advice and support as I take on my new position.

Next Two Years

I am very excited about trying to make an impact and having a positive influence on NAFED and its membership. First, I will continue to focus on the transition and implementation of Ken’s goals and visions when he took office two years ago.

I have thought long and hard about two personal goals that I would like to be the focus during my time as president. I wanted to select goals where I feel I have the industry experience, relationships, and contacts to actually make a positive impact. The first goal is a simple goal of growing our membership base. By spending almost ten years running a large distributorship organization, serving on industry advisory councils, working with most manufacturers, and most recently having the opportunity to work firsthand with many fire protection companies, I feel I can properly target this first goal. I believe very strongly that most fire protection companies could both benefit and contribute to NAFED if they join and give us a chance to deliver on our mission statement of making them a better business. NAFED and the state associations are working very closely to recruit at all levels and promote the value of belonging to both associations so we no longer compete for exclusivity of membership.

My second goal as president is to continue to grow and expand member training opportunities. The lifeblood of our industry is training for new products and services and, more importantly, to be able to attract potential employees from outside the fire protection industry to join and contribute to our organizations in a reasonable time period. The September edition of From the President will detail the board’s plan to continue to expand online training opportunities and to introduce a concept program for a state-of-the-art hands-on training facility in conjunction with a longtime NAFED distributor.

In closing, as I accept this new responsibility, I want to solicit any input and suggestions that you feel could be beneficial to continue the history and accomplishments of this great organization and move us forward to even better times.

©2014 National Association of Fire Equipment Distributors, Firewatch! magazine June 2014. Reprinted with permission.

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