An Interview with Todd Stevens, Immediate Past President of the FSSA

1. What is your role at your company?

Operations Manager at Industrial Fire Protection (IFP)

2. Tell us about your family.

I have been married for over twenty years to my wife Kelly. We have had multiple dogs over the years. Currently, we have two fur kids. My parents, sister and brothers are all very important in my life. We are all very close. I would not be where I am today if it were not for each one of them. Being the youngest, they have all provided me with guidance over the years.

3. What was your dream job growing up?

Not sure I had a “dream” job. I did have a magazine when I was real young, with photos of very expensive sailboats. I used to pretend that it was a sales brochure, and I would try to sell the boats to customers. I made sure that I pointed out the technical specs with each one. I guess I always liked the idea of technical sales but did not know it.

4. What was your first job?

I started working for a wholesale greenhouse next door to my house when I was in junior high. I learned a lot about plants/flowers and had the opportunity to meet some great people. I worked there on and off till I was in my mid 20s.

5. How did you get into the fire protection industry? Please describe your first job within the industry.

When I was in high school, I took classes to learn AutoCAD. After my first year of college, I started working part time at a small consulting engineering firm basically drawing lines and circles. The electrical, mechanical, and plumbing/fire protection engineers would red line prints and throw them over the wall for us CAD nerds to draw them up. They offered me a full-time position and I accepted with one condition — I wanted to learn what those lines and circles meant. I wanted to do what the engineers did. I chose Plumbing/FP because I enjoyed that the most. I started learning everything I could about FP and continue to learn more about our industry every day.

6. Over the course of your career, what has been the biggest change you have seen in the industry?

I have been in the industry for over 20 years, beginning in design. I think the most impressive change has been the design process and the development of drawing software over the years. I remember making blueprints or learning to draw on mylar. Now we can create a full 3-dimensional, virtual, fully coordinated building with all trades before they even dig a hole in the ground. The technology for designing building fire protection has really impressed me over the years.

7. What do you love most about your job? Least?

I think the thing I love the most about my job is the people in our industry. I have the opportunity to interact with extremely knowledgeable, professional, friendly individuals which helps to make it feel less like work and allows me to learn from others every day. For least, I hate that it sometimes feels like there is not enough time in a day to get everything completed.

8. What is your favorite movie?

The entire Rocky series… The 6th one is my favorite, and the 5th is the worse. I believe they are motivational because they teach strength and perseverance, never giving up and giving it your all, always.

9. What is the best piece of advice that you were ever given?

Work hard, play hard.

10. Who inspires you?

My mentor and friend Paul Theriault. Paul did a lot for our fire protection industry in the New England area. He was well known for his knowledge, hard work ethic, and for just being an amazing guy. He unfortunately passed away way too young but continues to inspire me every day.

11. Who gave you your first break?

When I started at the consultant engineering firm, Roger Bernard helped me find my place. Roger believed in me before I believed in myself. He always encouraged and pushed me to learn and do my best.

12. Would you rather take an ocean, mountain or lake vacation?

Can I choose a cabin in the mountains next to a lake?

13. If you had one “Do Over,” how would you use it?

Spend more time with family members that are no longer with us.

14. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Being with family, sharing and listening to how each of their days were.

15. What is your greatest fear?

Drowning… I like boats, snorkeling, and swimming so I am not afraid of the water, just afraid of drowning. I know that makes no sense.

16. What is the trait you most dislike in yourself?

I do not like when I hesitate with decisions; I sometimes overthink things. I wish I could be more direct and confident in my decisions.

17. What is the trait you most dislike in others?

Dishonesty. I am an adult; I can handle the situation. Just do not lie to be about it.

18. Which living person do you most admire?

My brother Chris, he is a successful business owner, amazing husband, great father, and just a good person that cares about everyone else’s needs first.

19. What is your greatest extravagance?

Bourbon… I can be a bit of a bourbon snob, haha.

20. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Looking back at some of my answers I guess I use “very” too much.

21. Which talent would you most like to have?

I wish I could play the piano. I have played the guitar most of my life, and there is music talent in my family, but I could never learn the piano. I always loved listening to my grandmother play the organ.

22. What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

Being honored by my peers to be elected President of the Fire Suppression Systems Association (FSSA) was amazing to me.

23. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

Probably one of our dogs because my wife likes them more than me.

24. Where would you most like to live?

I would love the opportunity to live in London even for a short time.

25. What is your most treasured possession?

The amazing memories I have created.

26. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Loneliness.

27. What do you most value in your friends?

Being able to reach out to them and they are there, no matter what.

28. Who are your favorite writers?

I don’t have a favorite writer. I really enjoy reading autobiographies and motivational stories.

29. Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Not sure if he is a historical figure but I would say Teddy Bruschi, former linebacker of the New England Patriots. His story is inspiring, he was loyal to the Patriots, extremely hard working, and humble. Not sure I have all those qualities, but I certainly try hard every day to achieve them.

30. Who are your heroes in real life?

That has to be my mom. There is no one else in this world that has done more for me.

31. What are your favorite names?

I am going to go with my two current dog’s names: Bandit and Josie.

32. What is your motto?

You win some, you lose some.

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