ASPE’s New Leadership

Plumbing Engineers dives deep with a Q&A with ASPE’s new executive director/CEO, Billy Smith.

The 2016 ASPE Convention and Expo will be held at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona October 28-November 2. This show, one of the largest networking and education events for plumbing designers and engineers, highlights many exciting new changes, including its Social Media Lounge, Women of ASPE, Mentoring program, expanded workshops, product-specific tours, new product innovation presentations and showcases, and more! This year, ASPE also shares its new leadership conquests with the appointment of Billy Smith as the society’s executive director/CEO. 

The 2016 ASPE Convention and Expo will be held at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona October 28-November 2. This show, one of the largest networking and education events for plumbing designers and engineers, highlights many exciting new changes, including its Social Media Lounge, Women of ASPE, Mentoring program, expanded workshops, product-specific tours, new product innovation presentations and showcases, and more! This year, ASPE also shares its new leadership conquests with the appointment of Billy Smith as the society’s executive director/CEO. 

Plumbing Engineer (PE): Clearly, the ASPE Convention and Expo provide a wide range of offerings to visitors. How would you break this down in a compact synopsis for first-time attendees? 

Billy Smith (BS): First of all, our Convention and Exposition is the largest event just for plumbing system design professionals.

We would confirm that you cannot afford to miss the 2016 ASPE Convention and Exposition — the only professional development and technical education event designed to enhance the career growth of plumbing engineers and designers! The ASPE Convention and Exposition has been dedicated to quality education, connections and experiences that advance our industry. For more than 50 years, we’ve shown that it is vital to attend our biennial event to discover new innovations, solutions and ideas to maintain your competitive edge.

We can help you communicate the value of attending the convention and expo to the management of your firm or company. We encourage everyone to review the materials we’ve provided in the “Justify Your Attendance” section of our website to gain a greater understanding of ASPE 2016. We’ve provided several helpful tips and documents for you to demonstrate why ASPE 2016 is an outstanding investment to your career.

We encourage you to attend as many of our technical sessions as you can. With all that is being provided, you can power up your knowledge by attending. Also, exploring each presentation in the New Product Innovation Theater in the ASPE Pavilion on the show floor will help, especially the first-timers. Don’t miss any opportunity to learn about the latest plumbing engineering innovations that will help you and your organization operate more efficiently. 

Having the opportunity to interact with your industry peers and to connect face-to-face with thousands of plumbing engineering design professionals and ask questions directly to session presenters and manufacturing experts is just too much to pass up. You should always collect business cards and follow up with new contacts within a week of returning to the office.

Once you’ve had the opportunity to come and attend your first convention and exposition, it’s important to establish the opportunity to attend future events as well. One important step to help build that possibility is to create a trip report after ASPE 2016 and share that with your co-workers and management. Once your co-workers and management see all the new business contacts you have made, how much you have learned and how it can be applied in your firm or company, they will be more likely to send you to the ASPE Convention and Exposition again. They may even join you at the next event.

We suggest that you share all of your knowledge by bringing back your ASPE 2016 materials back to the office to share with everyone. For example, the 2016 ASPE Convention and Exposition Show Guide is extremely valuable as it includes information on the 300+ global exhibitors and even allows you to search by product category. Also, offer do a brief presentation at a future staff meeting to let everyone know what you’ve learned.

PE: Can you give us a taste of some anticipated classes and workshops you’re offering? I understand you’re kicking off with a Green Plumbing Design Workshop. Why is this? 

BS: The 2016 ASPE Convention and Exposition features 25 technical education sessions for those who pay the full registration fee. The sessions are designed to help plumbing industry professionals at all career levels learn new skills or refresh their design repertoire. 

However, even before our technical sessions begin, as you’ve stated, we will be providing an opportunity for our industry design professionals the opportunity to continue advancing their knowledge and credential preparedness by attending our Green Plumbing Design Workshop. We simply feel that it’s important at our events, to allow for all the growth opportunities for our current and prospective members. 

As to the technical sessions, they are all important, and it’s an individual thing relative to each attendee as to importance. With the increase in water borne pathogens and the global concerns, we have sessions that especially focus on Legionella, water efficiency and safety, the capturing of rainwater for reuse and how our world continues to address shortages and proper maintenance. In general, all sessions have a distinct impact relative to our society, ensuring the proper guidelines are in place to support our goals of protecting the health and safety of the public.

PE: What are some of the objectives or themes you hope to make clear this year?

BS: We always want to focus on how ASPE can continue to provide for our design professionals and exhibitors the best available opportunities to connect with each other to share new product designs and technologies.

As well, we want to ensure that we are focusing on all of our membership base. We have so many opportunities for our long-time society members to reach out to the younger industry design professionals and share their knowledge and continue to grow our membership and industry. ASPE have been so fortunate over the years to have had the many outstanding leaders step forward, and we need to broaden that talent base to expand who we are and how to safeguard against complacency and bring about future leadership. 

PE: Please briefly highlight your groups Women of ASPE, Young Professionals and the Mentoring program. What does membership of these groups entail, and how will members benefit? 

BS: We’ve already touched on our younger members over the past few years with our AYP (ASPE Young Professionals), and that has been successful. 

Now, we’ve placed a concerted focus on the women in our industry by developing our WOA (Women of ASPE) program. This exclusive event will bring together women in the field of plumbing design where they will have the opportunity to network with their peers, learn about personal branding and how to apply it toward their professional growth, leadership and professional development. This has shown to be extremely exciting, as we’ve received so much participation from the women in our industry that are so important to ASPE. We will have our first every WOA forum at the convention and exposition in Phoenix. 

I do want to continue to make the point that none of this will be successful without the continued participation and mentoring of our young members by the long time and successful members that have placed ASPE in such a positive position today. We can never thank them enough. So, we are focusing on them as well with the introduction of our “Mentoring” program. We encourage all of our established and experienced members across the world to reach out, sign up for our “Mentoring” program and allow the ASPE staff to begin the process of linking a Mentor with a Mentee. This is an extremely important step for our future. 
PE: What went into the discussion for the selection of Steve Garvey, keynote speaker?

BS: ASPE is always looking for opportunities to provide leadership growth and exciting, motivational speakers to provide important guidance through the experiences of others. I remember the last time our convention and exposition was in Phoenix (1996), the speaker was Dick Vitale, who gave an outstanding presentation. We’ve tried to bring about that same kind of opportunity with Mr. Garvey, a name synonymous with excellence and success. 

As a 10-time All-Star and 1974 National League MVP, Garvey is destined for enshrinement at Cooperstown. Starring for the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres in his illustrious career, Garvey was nicknamed the “Iron Man” for setting the National League consecutive games record with 1,207 straight. With that kind of determination and stamina, he has a great message to present relative to focusing on the long-term results by staying focused and enduring life’s hurdles.

PE: What are some new features that you have this year that you’d like to address? What does, for example, the Social Media Lounge offer?

BS: One of our new features is to have actual product-specific tours provided during the exposition hours. Should any registrants want to participate in those tours, simply contact the ASPE office. 

As to the Social Media Lounge, we are very excited about this addition to our exposition as each of us have to grow our social media knowledge and how said technologies can help everyone grow their respective customer base. 

ASPE and Empowering Pumps are collaborating to bring attendees and exhibitors a chance to learn how to maximize their company’s online presence. The following free, hands-on, interactive sessions will be presented by Empowering Pumps President Charli Matthews at booth #903:

  • Monday, October 31, 11:15 a.m. — Crash Course on Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn
  • Monday, October 31, 3:00 p.m. — Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media Usage in Business
  • Tuesday, November 1, 10:15 a.m. — Developing Social Media Programs for Companies
  • Tuesday, November 1, 1:30 p.m. — Business Level Social Media: How to Interact B2B and B2C

Social media experts will be on-hand during the entire exposition to provide one-on-one instruction, so stop by to discover how to take your social media skills to the next level! 

PE: Please briefly discuss the exhibitor video contest. Are there any more promotions/contests to be aware of?

BS: Exhibitors have the opportunity to share their product information via an exhibitor video contest. They are asked to submit a 45-second max video to tell attendees why they should visit their booth. Videos will be posted to the ASPE YouTube page for voting. The exhibitor video with the most likes will be prominently displayed on the ASPE 2016 website and promoted to event attendees via email and social media. The winning video will also be showcased at the event in the NPIT area, at registration or between convention sessions.

PE:What can attendees expect from the New Product Innovation Programs?

BS: Within our New Product Innovation Programs, we will provide a “New Product Innovation Theater” which will be available to all exhibition attendees at booth 737. Presentations will demonstrate the capabilities and answer all questions relative to the newest products showcased at ASPE 2016. We have 11 different manufacturers involved in presenting for the attendees. 

As well, another one of our programs, we will have a “New Product Innovation Showcase” located at booth 753, which will allow our attendees to learn about the most exciting new products that our exhibitors are bringing to the show floor in 2016. For all of the specific topic information, please see our convention and exposition Web page. 

PE: Congratulations on your recent appointment! Please talk a little bit about your transition. What are some more concrete examples of what you hope accomplish that are in line with your vision for ASPE? 

BS: Thank you, Sarah. What an honor it is for me to be serving the ASPE membership and the plumbing industry as a whole as the society executive director/CEO. I’m extremely excited to have the chance to continue working closely with the society’s board of directors, our talented staff, our membership and the industry as a whole.

I feel that I bring a unique perspective in my role as an industry professional for well over three decades in several capacities. Joining ASPE in 1993, I felt it was important to be more than just a member, but to involve myself in supporting our society at all levels. From a membership category perspective, I’m a full member of the society. 

I was fortunate to serve as a member of the board of director for 10 years as the vice president, affiliate. I assumed a leadership role in 2002 when I was appointed to the ASPE Board of Directors as society affiliate liaison, and during my tenure the position evolved into vice president, affiliate. I also served as chair of ASPE’s Exhibitors Advisory Committee for several years, which is now known as the ASPE Affiliates Advisory Committee. A very special event and accomplishment in my career was being elected to ASPE’s College of Fellows in 2012, and I received ASPE’s Distinguished Service Award that same year. 
Having had the opportunity to serve our society as one of our board of directors and then join the society staff, serving as both the executive director/CEO and senior director of technical and regulatory affairs, gives me a different and effective perspective to assist our continued development and growth of our footprint on a global basis. 

PE: What’s in the woodwork for ASPE 2017?

BS: My goal and desire is to continue a tireless effort to implement the policies and procedures established by the ASPE Board of Directors in support of ASPE’s local chapters and for all society activities and programs. 

As well, I will aggressively build and maintain relationships with all of our industry organizations to ensure that the public’s health and safety are kept at the forefront of legislation and regulations regarding plumbing system design, installation, inspection and maintenance as we work as a team —particularly to ensure that the public’s health and safety are kept at the forefront of our respective collaborative efforts.

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