It took me several years to get nominated and voted onto the PVF Roundtable board of directors. The members at that time were the who’s who in Houston’s PVF industry. Everyone wondered how someone who did not live in Houston could manage to participate on the board. Never in my wildest imagination did I ever think I could someday be the president of this incredible organization.
A little over six years ago, then-PVF Roundtable President Danny Westbrook from Westbrook Mfg. decided he wanted to spend more time focusing on the family business. This led to nominations and an election. I was selected to be the fourth president of the PVF Roundtable.
I am proud of the fact that I have tried hard to never lose sight of the legacy of the previous leadership of the PVF Roundtable. I felt a responsibility to lead in a manner that everyone before me would be proud of.
As president, I began the process of transforming the organization into one that was sustainable for an extended period. A business model that would attract talented people to join the board, attract new members and provide for industry networking. This revision included rewriting our by-laws and establishing recurring elections so executive leadership positions transitioned one office per year over three-year terms to enable smooth transitions.
I asked our board to focus on several crucial elements in our quest to be sustainable. The first was to establish vital roles for many of our board members. Before this, an enormous amount of work was falling on a few board members. Now we have chairpersons for accounting, banquets, membership, scholarships, golf tournament, fishing tournament, media —and our most recent addition, the Young Professionals.
During my term, I am incredibly proud of how we focused on our membership. We maintained our membership fee for multiple years without an increase.
We provide the best format for networking in the industry with our new location at the Bell Tower. Our members were bored with the same old sit-down affairs and speakers who took away their networking time. Now you can come to three quarterly meetings that focus 100 percent of your time on meeting and speaking with other PVF industry participants.
Our golf and fishing tournaments have grown to become our most significant sources of scholarship funding. Each event now attracts more than 400 participants and sponsorships from the entire industry.
The PVF Roundtable Scholarship Fund will make $250,000 in awards in 2019, bringing our total to more than $1,000,000. I tell the story often of sitting in a board meeting while we argued over sending $12,500 in scholarships to Texas A&M or the University of Houston. We now sponsor seven institutions, including five trade schools and two universities.
During the last six years, we battled our way through the IRS red tape and were successful in establishing The PVF Roundtable Charitable Foundation. Donations made to the charitable foundation are tax-deductible as a 501 (3)(c).
We made many improvements to our website to add more value to our members and our sponsors. Those who give so generously to our events are recognized on our website for the entire year.
Our relationship with The Wholesaler has grown and our media committee is always looking for ways to expand our coverage and get our message out to the industry. We have a monthly topic published in The Wholesaler keeping the PVF industry informed of our programs and activities.
The Young Professionals may be one of our greatest future achievements. Our industry, like many others, faces a significant transition over the next several years. The young, highly talented newest members of the PVF industry are finding their voice.
They were looking for a format and support from the PVF Roundtable to begin meeting, fundraising and developing new programs such as Pro’s Knows and mentoring. Their first two years have been a great success, with meetings now attracting more than 100 attendees.
All these items could not have been accomplished without the amazing volunteer board members and their enormous groups of volunteers they bring with them to every event. There are no salaries for board members or volunteers. All expenses we incur in performing our duties are paid for by our employers, who deserve a shout out for their generosity.
Our loyal sponsors are so important to us. We have been blessed over these last six years to be supported by an incredible list of generous donors who have supplied large cash donations, guest speakers, golf and fishing sponsorships. See all their names and logos at pvf.org.
I consider the PVF Roundtable board to be among the best friends I could ever have. Each has supported and dedicated many hours to our success. It has been an honor to have served this great organization.
I am looking forward to the energy and enthusiasm that our new President Sara Alford will bring to her new role.
A Note from New President Sara Alford
I am excited to step into Joe’s shoes and continue to grow The PVF Roundtable, along with the other board members. Joe has been a great leader to the board and I will continue to follow in his path of success.
In my term as president, I would like to see the organization grow with more EPC, fabricators and end-users while continuing to grow our robust distribution membership. This will allow our organization to increase significantly and be able to provide more opportunities for scholarships to touch more young lives.
With more educational sessions, we will bring back prior members by offering more than just networking sessions. We will continue to grow our PVF Young Professional Committee to help bridge the gap between the tenured folks and the young professionals coming into the industry.
Regarding our scholarship fund, we would like to add additional trade schools to the platform while maintaining our current set of graduate schools that provide scholarships to our industry of pipe, valves and fittings. We will continue to grow our main event fundraisers that will allow us to give more scholarship dollars while increasing the value to our current membership and adding new members.
– Joe Pro