There are many reasons to become an active member of a productive organization. People unfamiliar with FEMSA may not be aware of reasons such as networking, being aware of industry changes, and stewardship. For Nathan Calabrese, Vice President of Sales and Marketing with Ricochet Manufacturing, those reasons are significant for FEMSA, the fire service, and public safety overall.
“Networking with FEMSA has multiple levels for me,” Nathan said. “It allows me at the manufacturer level to form relationships and communicate with my industry peers in an open forum, whether or not we compete against each other in the fire industry,” Nathan added that getting to know industry distributors, dealers, and resellers through FEMSA networking allows him to build relationships, get to know their business, learn about trends in different geographical areas, and get an understanding for any issues that they may be dealing with in their specific area of the country. This helps him to understand challenges that may be unique to them or validate what he may have heard from others regarding potential and ongoing dealer challenges.
Early awareness of challenges in the field is another reason Nathan encourages becoming a FEMSA member. “Becoming aware of situations, trends, and changes throughout our industry, and getting to hear those early on and firsthand from others who are experiencing those challenges,” Nathan said, “is imperative to help remain prepared, and face those issues head-on.”
Good stewardship is the third reason Nathan gives. “There are many things that one can do to be a good steward of our industry. I can think of two very important ones that we routinely practice at FEMSA. One of those is the GAC (Government Action Committee). FEMSA, to my knowledge, is the only organization representing the loose equipment sector of our industry that has an entire working group (GAC) dedicated to lobbying for grants that are so important to public safety,” he said.
Nathan added that the grants provide access to the tools, products, and resources that the public safety agencies need in order to protect life and property. “As a good steward of the industry, we heavily support grants for public safety because public safety agencies often do not have the level of funding necessary to operate in the capacities that they need to.” Nathan said the grants touch every citizen in some way, shape, or form. “Millions of dollars flow down into public safety through those grants. Without lobbying for them, they may go away,” he said. “If a department does not have the funding, they are not going to buy necessary equipment, no matter how much they need it.”
Another good stewardship portion of FEMSA, Nathan explained, is the FEMSA Fire Chiefs Panel. “We are very fortunate to have a Fire Chiefs panel during our annual FEMSA Meeting each fall. We prepare by selecting prominent, advancing, forward thinking Fire Chief’s from around the country, and getting them all together in front of our membership during our Annual Meeting for a Town Hall style presentation.”
The FEMSA Fire Chief’s panel has two primary components. The first is a set of questions proposed to the Chief’s panel, and each Chief has a chance to answer these questions in their own way to the entire audience. When those are concluded, the second component is open questions from the floor that can be directed to one of the Chiefs in particular, or to the entire panel. “The Fire Chiefs Panel is a win-win. It gives these Chiefs the opportunity to speak freely to the membership, made up of Manufacturers and Service Providers, on just about any topic including products, innovation, application, technology, and so forth.
Both the Fire Chiefs and the Membership get to have a true, unfiltered, direct conversation on these important topics, in an open forum that is free from some of the influences that may be present while working together and trying to conduct business privately. I have always been impressed with the quality of communication and insight that comes out of the Fire Chiefs Panel year after year. It is increasingly difficult to get that kind of open communication when everyone is busy trying to conduct business with each other.”
Being a member of FEMSA means being a productive and proactive supporter of public safety and the related industries and organizations across the country. As Nathan shared, networking, awareness and stewardship are not only key to the longevity of your industry, but that of the whole service across the country.