By Diane M. Calabrese / Published May 2022
Limitless? Not hours in a day. Yet so important are some activities, we find the time. Keeping the Cleaning Equipment Trade Association (CETA) and the CETA Scholarship Foundation strong are two such activities.
Several CETA directors (board) and trustees (education foundation) tell us why they serve. (And they encourage others to do the same.)
“I wanted to meet more people in the industry and help the industry grow,” says Delany Johnson, sales manager at Wayne Combustion in Fort Wayne, IN. “Serving has also helped me learn more about what others need from us.”
Johnson expresses a sentiment oft relayed by those who guide organizations: One receives as one gives.
“The people you meet on the board are wonderful, and the experience has been more than I could ever have imagined,” says Johnson. “The experience helps you understand the industry better.”
A rewarding experience? “Yes, it has been, and I hope to serve again,” says Johnson.
Return service is not unusual. “This is my second time serving on the board; the first time was 20 years ago, from 2002 to 2004,” says Karl Loeffelholz, dealer division manager at Mi-T-M Corporation in Peosta, IA. He has been with the company for 30 years, most of them spent directly involved with distributors.
Loeffelholz knows very well the connection between manufacturers and distributors as well as end users. And it spurred his service.
“I wanted to give back to the industry,” says Loeffelholz. “Being directly involved with the industry you serve can be very rewarding, and everyone should give it a try.”
We all have ideas about priorities and needs. Get involved and act on them.
“Board service gives me the opportunity to share and implement new ideas and make the necessary changes to keep the association moving forward,” says Loeffelholz. “Being involved allows me to better understand what the CETA organization is all about.”
Interaction through leadership broadens perspective. “A lot of ideas, hard work, and passion go into making the industry a more productive association for everyone,” says Loeffelholz.
And there’s a great bonus in service, explains Loeffelholz. “I also like having the opportunity to meet new people and make new friends.”
Of course, the board of CETA has one unifying priority: Keep the association strong. Yujin Anderson, general manager at Steamericas Inc. in Inglewood, CA, tells us about her path to the board.
“I had the privilege of witnessing what CETA committees do to impact the industry prior to my nomination to the board, while serving on an ad hoc committee dedicated to pandemic issues back in 2020,” explains Anderson. “I wasn’t expecting to be nominated, and it was such an honor when it happened.”
Board service has many dimensions—all welcome, explains Anderson. “It’s a unique opportunity to learn from industry veterans.” And much more.
Once on the board, says Anderson, industry competitors become true allies. “We put the industry first, not the company you represent.”
Collaboration among board members coupled with adherence to thoughtful strategic planning is motivational. “It is inspiring to see the current and past leaders of the organization up close,” says Anderson. “You strive to be part of those contributing to the industry someday just as they have been.”
And then, there’s just much to savor about connections made. “I love the opportunity to interact with my distributors who serve on the board, outside the supplier-distributor relationship,” says Anderson.
The formal and informal facets of board and trustee service reflect the nature of CETA, an organization that brings together distributors, manufacturers, and suppliers—all of which keep a sharp focus on the end user of the products they make and sell. The structure cuts vertically through the industry and fortifies understanding. An end-user’s question to a distributor has the potential to result in an innovation or improvement in a product from a manufacturer.
“I was motivated to serve as a CETA director from seeing the impact the association has on its members,” say Ryan Lindaman, industrial sales manager at Hydra-Flex Inc. in Savage, MN. “From sharing best practices to providing benchmarking programs for its members, CETA has a true and lasting impact on its members.”
Like others who comment herein, Lindaman points to the way the experience of service adds to his knowledge base—and to his professional development. “It is a great opportunity to learn from other industry professionals,” he says.
Lindaman would encourage others to consider board service for the reasons already cited and more. “It’s an opportunity to have an impact and to serve others in the industry. The networking opportunities are endless as well.”
Even though he is quite new to the board, Lindaman can cite a particularly gratifying experience. “In the short time I have been a director, the most rewarding experience is seeing the work and education being done on issues like SORE/CARB [small off-road engine/California Air Resources Board regulations].”
There’s always something that would benefit from our attention. When one goal is met, a forward-looking person sets another (just as does a forward-looking organization like CETA).
Helping the rising generation of young people develop an outlook based on goals set and goals met fortifies communities and the nation. Industry and commerce stay strong. The education foundation supports the formal learning process through competitively awarded grants to family members and employees of CETA members.
Recognizing the importance of the support of the foundation, Russ Hess, regional manager (Northeast United States, Eastern Canada) for Alkota Cleaning Systems Inc. in Alcester, SD, welcomed the opportunity to serve as a foundation trustee.
“I was motivated to become involved after my daughter, Erica, was awarded several CETA scholarships,” explains Hess. “The scholarships were such a help to her and to our family, helping to minimize the need for student loans.”
It’s quite uplifting to serve in a way that ties together generations, explains Hess. “I heartily encourage colleagues to serve as a CETA trustee. Serving as a trustee allows the opportunity to work with other positive-minded individuals toward a common goal. I depart every education foundation meeting and CETA event with an upbeat attitude. The experience is so rewarding.”
Also serving as a trustee is Dennis Black, president of McHenry Pressure Cleaning Systems Inc. in Frederick, MD. Black has served previously as a board member.
How did Black decide to serve? “The honest answer is I was encouraged by peers to get involved,” he says. “My original business partner and others who were already involved in CETA encouraged me. I am always thankful that these great friends gave me the ‘push.’”
There’s so much to gain from serving, says Black. “Just to mention a few gains—working with others to accomplish common goals, learning more about your industry, making many friends, and associating with other CETA members…”
CETA involvement at the board and trustee level enables “tremendous learning from great people,” says Black. “It has made me a better person. Learning and making relationships have benefited my business and me personally more than I can describe.”
Black sums it up this way: “This is our industry, and CETA is our industry organization, so being involved just makes sense. It is not only giving back. It is helping to create a better future for our industry and our businesses.”