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CHICAGO — “Suds in your blood” is an old saying that could probably be made more complicated by calling it “aptitude, attitude and caring about the textile and textile care business.” We all continually make our business more complicated, when in fact, it’s an essential service industry supporting nearly every marketplace. Sadly, the markets we support seldom recognize us, assuming we will always be around. I feel fortunate to have entered this industry more than 35 years ago, and I continually learn, as I hope all of you do.
As we enter into an economic recession driven by high fuel prices and the erratic real estate market, I want to take the opportunity to remind everyone in this industry that we have significant challenges ahead. Our industry has the opportunity to once again be the leader in energy savings through the use of new equipment that can make plants more productive and safe, recapture and recirculate fuel and heat exhaust/emissions, and indirectly reduce the cost of healthcare by reducing operational cost. It’s estimated that our industry could save more than $100 million annually through the use of innovative cost-saving measures. For example, simply recirculating the billions of Btu generated per hour from boiler operations industry-wide would save $7-10 million annually. I have yet to see any educational opportunities on this one.
While most professional organizations are not stepping up to lead the battle against the recession, I would recommend they revisit these opportunities, which their members desperately need. Now is the time for members of these organizations to push programs that are worthy of the membership and the sponsor fees they pay. Members need to stand up to poor program presenters, and professional organizations need to review the material being presented before presentations are made — presenters selling or endorsing products in an open educational forum must stop. That these types of programs continue clearly shows that agendas are being thrown together at the last moment. The experts in these fields are within the association membership base, not any other place.
I encourage each professional organization in our market segment to establish industry committees outside of the organization, board of directors/officers, etc. It’s really time for these organizations to provide quality services to their members at a price that’s reasonable, before the recession hits the heart of our industry, which is the professional association itself. Most corporate executives involved in our industry have clearly indicated that membership in these organizations will be one of the first things on the chopping block once the recession gets into full swing, so the challenge is clearly there for professional organizations to cut costs and provide quality services.
Quite frankly, now is the time for professional organizations to become less political and much more service-oriented; it’s a matter of survival in what has become a fairly competitive market.
Yes, “suds in your blood” is an old phrase, but it’s a phrase that must be revitalized. If you can still find those suds, please speak out and be heard.