The State of SWR Institute - by Ron Pilla

As we gear up for our 2012 Fall Technical Meeting, I thought it would be a good time to re-cap some of the hard work and activities set forth by the Board since our Naples Winter Technical Meeting.
During the Board of Directors Meeting in Naples, it was clear the board was interested in reevaluating the direction of the Institute to determine if we were heading in the right direction with respect to members needs and wants.  Were we utilizing staff, volunteer and financial resources effectively?  Were the programs in place benefiting the majority of our members?  Were we meeting the educational needs of the industry?  Were we staying focused on our mission?  These were all questions we needed to answer.  
The evaluation of our direction was the result of a few different factors.  First, we were dealing with the organic turnover of the board, which naturally leads to everyone getting a clear understanding of what to do, why, and how to move forward with the current programs and activities. Second, we had a downward trend of net a profit. And third, and probably most importantly, we were very concerned with contractor involvement. 
SWRInstitute has always been, and continues to be, a contractors’ organization. One of the first priorities of the board was to increase contractor involvement, which is vital to the long term integrity of the Institute and developing the future leaders (our board members) of the Association.
The first step in our evaluation process was to conduct a member needs survey to find out what was important to the membership.  219 people provided feedback to the survey and the information we received was very beneficial. Many thanks to those of you who took the time to complete the survey!
The next step was to schedule a planning meeting. The objective of the planning meeting was to determine the current needs and wants of the industry and to dissect SWR Institute activities and programs to determine if we were meeting those needs and wants. We developed a clear, well-thought-out agenda and scheduled the planning meeting for the day before the summer board meeting.  
The feedback we received on the survey let us know that members were generally satisfied.  Most of the general comments revolved around how we can improve our meeting as well as offer new delivery methods for educating the industry.  Here are a few of the things we heard. 
Shorter and more interactive presentations
Education for all levels of staff
More technical presentations and live hands on demonstrations of applying  materials
More business related topics
More “jobs that went wrong” presentations
Webinars, training videos and online training
With respect to the Board, the leaders of the SWR Institute, we learned we needed to concentrate on our core values.  We recognized our core to be:
Our technical program
Networking including the “Relationships and Resources” of the association 
Influence with education and training 
Promotion of best practices 
We felt the need to concentrate our efforts on revitalizing membership, increasing contractor involvement and improving the programs to remain attractive to the majority of our members.  
We also recognized the need to focus staff, volunteer and financial resources on those programs that benefit the majority of our members.  In addition, we felt the need to spend more time on increasing membership, fine-tuning our meetings and developing new educational training delivery methods.
All and all we have been working on our core. Our membership is now at a peak, but we are not finished. Our goal for membership by the end of 2013 is to get to 325 members and remain there.  We will grow at a controlled rate meaning, we want the organization to continue to have the ability to put a name to a face and to form friendships and business relationships during our technical meetings.   One of the greatest values in this organization is to have the ability to lean on those friendships for advice.
Our finances are on the rise.  At the beginning of the year we anticipated a net profit of $6,630.  By the midyear budget review, we projected a potential profit of $30,000.  This is a result of both increased membership and a reduction in expenses wherever possible.  Adding these dollars to our bottom line will provide us with an increased comfort level on weighted expenditures moving forward.  This may include revamping our website and developing educational platforms that will benefit a large number of our members. We have also continued recruiting new contractor members and increase contractor involvement. 
I can not in my wildest dreams articulate the energy and passion behind the planning meeting and the summer board meeting.  Once again, thank you to those of you who took the time to fill out the survey.  It was extremely necessary and helpful in evaluating the current state and future direction of the Institute.  Also, to the Board, Jennifer and Ken, thank you for going the extra mile and in taking an extra day from your families and businesses to concentrate on part of our future livelihood. I believe it was time well spent!  
I hope to see each of you in Seattle!  
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