Published January 2018
We meet the 2018 members of the CETA board of directors in this two-part article with a twist. Here in part one, members introduce themselves by telling us what motivated them to serve on the board, what they have learned from this service, what they are looking forward to the most in 2018, and their professional background (the nugget version).
In the second part of this article (starting in February), members will tell us a bit about their company, their view of the industry, and their philosophy of doing business, as well as what they enjoy most about their work and their free time interests. The twist is this: To allow us to dig deeper with each board member (director), the second “part” of this article will run across the year with approximately one board member per month featured in this magazine.
So, let’s get started with part one. And look for more by and about the board members throughout 2018.
Chad Rasmussen is the CFO of Royce Industries L.C., with headquarters in West Jordan, UT. He is the president of CETA for 2018. “My motivation to serve on the board came from my desire to meet more people,” he says. “I wanted to learn things I should be doing—or not doing—from those who have more experience than I do. Service on the board has enabled me to meet so many people and develop meaningful relationships that I have come to treasure professionally and personally.”
Anticipating the board’s activity in 2018, Rasmussen reflects the enthusiasm that buoys the entire board. “I look forward to watching the board work together to bring more value to CETA,” he says. “As a board, we have several great things in front of us. I think what I am looking forward to the most is that we will be working to create more educational and networking opportunities.”
Like all officers and board members of CETA, Rasmussen has a busy professional life. “I currently serve as the CFO of Royce Industries L.C., which has locations in Utah, Nevada, Idaho, and Colorado,” he says. “I have an MBA from the University of Utah and have spent my entire professional life in the cleaning equipment industry.”
Jim O’Connell is the president of Hotsy Pacific in Modesto, CA, and he is senior vice president of CETA for 2018. It’s a role he takes on with the enthusiasm and commitment characteristic of all CETA board members.
“I believe there is power in numbers, and we need to band together to make our industry stronger, so we can help change the industry,” says O’Connell. “I would like to see all manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors in our industry maintain the high quality and level of service that has been attained in other industries within our country.”
The rewards of board service are many, says O’Connell. “I have forged lifetime friendships within our group, and I also have gleaned new ideas and insights to help grow my business. In addition, I have been influential in addressing changes in our organization which I believe will help move us forward with renewed focus and determination.”
As in past years when he has served, O’Connell explains there is much he looks forward to doing. “This year I am serving as the executive VP in a time when we are refocusing our organization and have many new board members to associate with. We have developed our strategic plan, so we now have a five-year road map. I am excited to work on different committees to further develop our organization and my skills. I am looking forward to developing new relationships within our organization also.”
To his board service, O’Connell brings a deep and rich professional background. “I have been in the pressure washer industry for the past 34 years, starting as a technician, and I purchased the company in 1991,” he explains. “I am a veteran of the U.S. Army and served for seven years. I have also worked in other industries such as asphalt maintenance, truck driving, and commercial painting. I have served as a president of a local purchasing managers’ association for 10 years, as well as serving as president of a local high-school athletic booster program for four years.”
Ben Hagemann is general manager at American Pressure Inc. in Robbinsdale, MN, and he is CETA’s vice president in 2018. He first got connected to a leadership role in CETA because he wanted to do more to advance the industry.
“I wanted to get more involved in our industry, and I saw this as a great way to do it,” he says. “I was thrilled to find out it was a professionally run organization.” He explains the organization deals very carefully with difficult issues.
“2018 will be my fourth year on the board, and I have learned and grown because of the people I have been honored to get to know on the board. I have countless new friends, and we share the commonality of this industry,” says Hagemann. “I have also learned how hard CETA works to preserve, promote, and protect our industry.”
Successive years of board service have given Hagemann an appreciation of the accomplishments of previous boards. “The people who came before us certainly did a great job to put things in place, and CETA is a strong and stable organization,” he says. “I look forward to 2018 with great anticipation as we start to put our strategic plan in place.”
Yes, the plan is detailed and multifaceted, but it is much more, going to the core of the association. “The plan, while it has many elements, has one main theme: benefits and value for the membership,” says Hagemann. “Personally, I am very excited to work with the rest of the board.”
Hagemann immerses himself in board service with a clear view of his professional background. “Father, husband, and everything pressure washer are my vocations as I live out my life confident in the salvation won for me by Christ on the cross,” he says. “Professionally and personally, I try hard to remember to be thankful for all the blessings I have been given.”
Dr. Marlo Dean is senior support services manager at Kärcher North America in Camas, WA. He serves as CETA board secretary in 2018. His motivation for serving is strong and rooted in finding a collaborative path in meeting the complexity of regulatory issues.
“There were regulation issues impacting our industry,” says Dean, recalling how he first became a board member at CETA. “Government agencies do not want to bother with individual companies, but they will work with industry associations. The pressure washer industry was faced with challenges from government agencies placing our industry in a category with the boiler industry. I wanted to become engaged in CETA to help change the focus to include issues affecting our industry that can be addressed in a cooperative manner by competitors belonging to CETA.
“The force of collaboration is powerful,” says Dean. “CETA has the advantage of bringing competitors together by working on committees, putting aside differences to accomplish actions that will benefit the entire industry,” he explains. “If we work together, we can accomplish anything. If we attempt to work as individual companies trying to resolve regulation issues, we accomplish nothing.”
To foster continuous improvement in the industry, Dean believes there must be candor and mutual respect in discussing difficult issues. “CETA should always focus on activities that impact our industry, and we should always work together in an atmosphere of cooperation to improve our industry, which benefits everyone,” he says.
Fretting over trade secrets does not make much sense, especially in 2018. “Competitors can find anything about their competition on the internet,” says Dean. “There are no trade secrets anymore. This barrier has been removed, allowing CETA to operate in a united effort so all members can gain from the experience of everyone who serves on the CETA board and associated committees. The CETA board works together sharing information and ideas that benefit our industry, not individual companies.
“Board service is a big positive,” says Dean. “I enjoy my association with CETA members. Last year the CETA board established a five-year strategic plan with hopes to develop continuity and focus on important projects that will not become lost when the CETA board changes leadership every year. It is a good feeling when you can accomplish something that helps companies grow, creating more job opportunities.”
Dean brings a medical background to the industry. “I worked for a pressure washer company while attending medical school,” he says. “I was offered a partnership in a manufacturing company and have been in the industry for 40 years. I have served on the CETA board for several terms and have been a member of the UL Standards Committee for pressure washers since 1992.”
Chris Meyer is the controller at Ben’s Cleaner Sales in Seattle, WA, and he serves as treasurer of CETA in 2018. He says he was motivated to serve for two compelling reasons: “To give back to our industry and to work with a wide array of people that I would otherwise not have had the opportunity to.”
Having served on the board in other years, Meyer explains he has learned something that has deepened his connection to the industry. “There are many great people who contribute their time and effort to our industry so selflessly,” he explains. And, that is something worthy of note and emulation.
As he considers what’s to come in 2018, Meyer is ready. He says he is eager to “continue to work with great people and shape the future direction of CETA.”
Meyer’s roots in the industry are deep and connect him to a legacy. “Our company was started by my grandfather in 1945, and I basically grew up in the business and industry,” he says. “I started working in the industry 19 years ago doing machine assembly and deliveries.”
Aaron Auger is the water treatment division manager at Mi-T-M Corporation in Peosta, IA. He is the most recent past president of CETA. “My original motivation to serve on the CETA board of directors was to get involved with our industry and help where I could,” he says. “Prior to running for a position on the board, I had served on a few committees, enjoyed what I had been able to do, and was able to meet some new people, so I wanted to continue assisting the association whichever way I could.”
It’s not just about giving, but also about learning. There are opportunities to do both.
“I think anytime you are able to do something that is viewed in a positive light, it’s a good learning experience,” says Auger. “Whether it’s implementing a program such as benchmarking that has helped so many dealers in their daily business, to legislative issues that our technical committee have assisted with, those are all reasons to not only be a member of CETA but to spend the time getting involved to help the industry as a whole.”
Auger has a unique way of looking at 2018, having completed a term as president in 2017. “Honestly, 2018 will be the year I serve as past president, so it should be much less hectic than the year before,” he says. “I’m happy to do whatever I can to help our current board.”
In his professional life, Auger has a two decades long tenure with a single company. “I have been with Mi-T-M for 20 years, the last 14 as the water treatment division manager,” he explains.
Laura Niessner-Pyatt is the product category director for Kärcher North America in Camas, WA, and she works out of the company’s Denver office. She is serving as a CETA director in 2018. Getting involved with CETA at the level of board service proved a great opportunity, she explains.
“I have only been in the industry for four and a half years,” says Niessner-Pyatt. “I thought service on the CETA board would be a good way to get to know the industry even better and hopefully help where possible. When an opening became available on the board, I was fortunate to step in. During the first meeting, I quickly saw how much passion there is for CETA, and I wanted to be a part of getting more people involved in CETA.”
One thing Niessner-Pyatt particularly hopes will transpire in 2018 is the formation of more links among members. “Getting more members involved to share their success and challenges with one another” is a high priority objective, she explains. “The more involvement within CETA, the more information we can share to help our members grow their businesses.”
Niessner-Pyatt brings diverse industry experience to her current position. “I am a graduate from Penn State University with a marketing degree,” she explains. “I started my career with Black & Decker – DeWalt in field marketing and sales, which gave me a great foundation to continue my career at Gerber Legendary Blades, a division of Fiskars, as the director of new product development. I entered the cleaning equipment industry when I joined Kärcher North America, and I currently hold the product category director position.”
Jimmy Welch is the R&D manager for Nilfisk HPW and Pressure Pro in Fort Pierce, FL, and he is a CETA director in 2018. He exemplifies the positive view all CETA board members have of the industry.
“I really believe in the pressure washer industry and the people who make up all aspects of the industry from the supply chain—manufacturers, distributors, and cleaning contractors,” says Welch. “I am honored to serve as the industry continues to grow, and we pass our history onto the next generation for them to make their history within our industry.”
For Welch, the 2018 term is his first. “This is my first time on the board, but I have participated in the technical committee and find it rewarding to meet others within the industry, many of whom are very creative,” he explains.
“Meeting new people and listening to their needs” is something Welch looks forward to as he anticipates a busy year of board service in 2018. He brings to his role much experience.
“I started in the industry in 1975 as a service technician working on equipment of all makes and found it rewarding,” says Welch, “and I have had the pleasure of working with several manufacturers of equipment—as well as pumps and the safety standards. I always find it rewarding to work with others, finding solutions to safer product designs.”
Gary Scott is the general manager at Alkota Cleaning Systems Inc. in Alcester, SD, and he is a CETA director in 2018. His motivations to serve were many. “This is a great industry with great people in it,” he says. “I would like to see the industry keep growing and the market expand. CETA can help do that. Having been in the industry for quite some time, I think that I may have some insights to help CETA move the industry forward.”
Like other board members, Scott points to the importance of person-to-person ties. “As you meet people who work and serve in this industry, you build relationships and become more connected to the industry with each connection,” he says. “I look forward to meeting more people and building new relationships” when serving on the board in 2018.
Scott’s immersion in the industry began while he was still a student. “I have worked in this industry my entire career, even working part-time in it during my college years,” he explains. “I have worked in every facet, from production to accounting to purchasing to finance to sales management, and finally as the general manager of Alkota Cleaning Systems Inc. I have been blessed to work with very talented and dedicated coworkers as well as distributors.”
Michael E. Rickey is the senior manager for engines and export sales at American Honda Motor Co. Inc. He is a CETA director in 2018. Serving on the CETA board makes good sense to him. “We are involved in the pressure washer industry—Honda powers many pressure washer models from various manufactures,” he says. “I feel it is important to be involved in industries in which we are actively represented.”
Rickey has much experience with board service and finds it all valuable. “I have served on several boards in the outdoor power equipment industry, and my service has taught me that many times people in an industry are not aware of what industry boards do for them and their businesses,” he says. “I feel it is important to connect with these people and others in order to provide a value-added service that allows for them and their businesses to grow.”
As a board member in 2018, Rickey looks forward to fostering understanding. “The industry is constantly changing, and it is up to us to manage that change and share with our members what that change means to them,” he says.
To his work with the board, Rickey brings many credentials. “I have a master’s degree in industrial distribution from Texas A&M,” he says. “I have been in the engine, whole goods, and marine industry for more than 22 years, dealing with both domestic and international customers and OEMs [original equipment manufacturers].”
Jim Kelly is the director of sales and marketing at Wayne Combustion in Fort Wayne, IN, and he is a CETA director in 2018. This is his first time serving on the CETA board. “I am excited to be meeting and working with great people in the industry,” he says.
As he considers the year 2018 and where the work of the board will take it, Kelly has a goal that guides him. That is “working alongside other world class members of the board to improve the pressure washer industry,” he explains.
Kelly is not only new to the board, but he is also new to the industry. “My professional background has primarily been in the chemical manufacturing industries, specifically pest and ag control chemicals,” he says. “I joined Wayne Combustion in 2015, so I am new to the pressure washer industry.”
Greg Sprunk is the president of Superior Cleaning Equipment in Phoenix, AZ, and he serves as a CETA director in 2018 for the first time.
“I have several fellow dealers whom I admire and respect who have served on the CETA board, and I have heard directly from them what good work they have been doing for the industry,” says Sprunk. “I think in my earlier years I was more defensive and a little more insecure about sharing, and as I get older, I have really enjoyed talking to and learning from people all over the industry, so I think it was good timing for me.”
Sprunk wants to spread the word about one CETA program in particular during 2018. “I have benefited quite a bit from the benchmarking, so I look forward to serving on that committee to expand that and get more dealers involved,” he says
Also a member of the membership committee, Sprunk has an ambitious objective in that role. “My goal is to double the growth of CETA membership in the next two years,” he says. “I don’t think that should be too difficult. I think it’s a matter of communicating what’s happening here and why it’s important.”
Before becoming a distributor, Sprunk was a contract cleaner. “I have owned Superior Cleaning Equipment for 26 years,” he explains. “I was a contract cleaner for eight years before that.”
Sprunk got started as an end user with Landa equipment. “I used all Landa equipment in that business, about 12 units, and in 1991 had the opportunity to purchase the Landa Phoenix branch from Larry Linton and Landa,” he explains. “We have grown from that store and added another in San Diego.” The 18,000-square foot Phoenix facility is on a 1½ acre site.
“I was involved in the environmental aspect of our business from the first day that I bought it,” says Sprunk. “I love system selling, I love technology, and I think that’s helped us grow and keep a good pace in our industry.”
Linda Chappell is an administrator at Chappell Supply and Equipment Inc. in Oklahoma City, OK. She is a CETA director in 2018. She has also served as president of CETA and in many other leadership roles. The fit of service is a natural one for her.
“I grew up in a family which served their community,” says Chappell. “So, serving our industry is just part of who I am.”
“As an adult, for 20-plus years, I had the incredible privilege of raising my children while working in purchasing along with gaining accounting experience at the T.G.&Y. headquarters in Oklahoma City,” says Chappell. “When T.G.&Y. was sold and the headquarters moved, my husband Roy Chappell, the CEO, asked me to join Chappell Supply and manage the accounting side of the company. With grown children I thought, ‘why not?’—I was not a stay-at-home person. As most members know, Roy also believes in giving back to the industry. Running for the CETA board was a natural progression for me.”
There was a pleasant surprise bound up in the commitment to
serve. “Little did I know that the time I devoted to the board would be returned tenfold in industry knowledge and friendships,” says Chappell.
“Serving on the board requires time, patience, and, when walking into the board meeting, taking off your company hat and putting on your CETA hat,” says Chappell. “What a privilege!”