Every new beginning has to start somewhere. A road trip starts long before we get in the car. A building project starts well in advance of the first shovel being placed in the ground. A plan, no matter how well conceived, starts before the pencil is put to paper. So it is that we have ideas, we solicit input, we challenge alternate views, we refine the process and we come up with a plan that, we hope, will take us where we want to go. The Pile Driving Contractors Association held its annual Strategic Planning Meeting Jan. 9 to 11, 2019, in Atlanta, Ga. The PDCA Board of Directors, along with several past presidents, held intensive discussions, strategy sessions, break out groups and continued discussions during lunch and dinner in order to draft what is now referred to as the 2019 PDCA Strategic Plan. This document, comprised of core values, started far from where it ended. You could call it the "kitchen sink approach" where everything and anything is put up for consideration. Some items might represent pet projects, some could be standing principals, while others are timely and should be considered. Regardless, they are all considered, discussed, dissected, pared down, refined, tested and, finally, put on paper to be discussed and refined even more. This process is not for the faint of heart or for someone who is easily offended. The conversations can be direct, but it is with good intent and for the purpose of challenging whether what is being discussed is something that is believed or simply there as a filler. If it is something that is believed, it will be supported and could make it to the next level. This process continues until certain ideas rise above others and the strategic plan starts to take shape. At this point, the Board is ready for action. They dig in for the final leg of a marathon meeting to simplify all that has been discussed into workable ideas that will form the foundation for the organization's efforts over the next 12 months. That is the goal and is why the meeting is so important because the impact it will have on the organization and the services provided to members will have long-lasting effects. The product of this extremely important meeting could not happen without the dedication and commitment of the people involved. They are to be commended for their work and the time they took away from their own businesses to devote to this important task. It is no small effort. This year's Strategic Plan is constructed with three values: Education, Membership and Visibility. Three words that by themselves could be disregarded but in context make up the foundation for PDCA. Education is probably one of the most important services that a trade association can provide for its members. This one value is so important that without it, the organization may not have a reason to exist. The programs and information that are provided have to address the issues and concerns of association members. These programs have to be timely, accessible and, in most cases, repeatable. PDCA has a unique challenge due to the fact that members are located in all parts of the United States, Canada and other countries around the globe. PDCA is an international association of pile driving contractors and those associated with the industry. And while the majority of members are located in the U.S., the organization has to be mindful of how its programs and services impact these other areas. PDCA depends on its Education Committee as a primary means of vetting education ideas, programs and activities. This work never ends because education needs are always changing. It is obvious that without members in the organization, there would be no PDCA. The importance of membership is often easy to overlook. Membership is vitally important for the support it provides to the organization. As the second priority in the Strategic Plan, we need to work harder to develop members, to nurture member growth and to provide members a reason to renew their commitment and support year over year. Understanding why a company would join the organization as well as why they won't renew their membership are both important metrics that have to be developed. Only then can PDCA make the adjustments necessary to ensure the highest level of participation. Visibility is the final point to the 2019 PDCA Strategic Plan. This is no small task and while it may seem less important than Education or Membership, Visibility provides the branding and continuity that helps the other two points. This effort can take many forms. Using the PDCA website as the base for visibility opens many opportunities. The fact that just about everything we use to represent the association can be digitized means we are able to push all these resources to the website for access by PDCA members, other interested individuals and groups and the general public. Everything we do can and should encourage website participation. The ability to branch out to social media and other related channels is always an option and, at some point, a necessity. By using the available technology, PDCA will have the ability to track current web usage and compare that over time to determine which programs are working, what new initiatives should be started and what resources should be shelved for newer, more effective offerings. This is a dynamic, active, ongoing, continuous process. We have to begin somewhere in this effort and once started we have to continue for it to be effective. And we have to be consistent. We cannot start this effort and then stop mid-stream. It has to be done over time in a purposeful way. Visibility helps every aspect of what PDCA is doing to represent the driven pile industry. Our message that a "Driven Pile is a Tested Pile" gains more traction with increased visibility. The 2019 PDCA Strategic Plan: Education, Membership, Visibility. PDCA members must be part of the process. Members need to tell the organization what programs, information and activities should be developed. Then when they are developed, members need to attend programs, use information and support activities. This success will breed its own success. Members need to be active about their own membership by utilizing all the services that the organization offers and by renewing their membership each year. But members also are the best voice in telling non-members why they should join PDCA. Members have to be active in the organization to maintain a vital, healthy and growing community. Members become the first line of visibility for the organization to the rest of the deep foundation industry. Keeping the PDCA logo visible is one way to help develop a successful brand. Using the PDCA website on a consistent and strategic basis will provide "visible" results. Helping others learn how to use the website and all the information available there is an important step. When a social media feed is posted for PDCA, a repost or tweet or Snap goes a long way. Members have to be involved in every aspect of the association. With your engagement and active support, the 2019 PDCA Strategic Plan will be meaningful and successful. The work begins. Let's get to it.
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