Associations succeed by having a shared mission, but there is always a smaller number of members who go above and beyond, giving back through volunteer service year after year. The Associated Air Balance Council (AABC) has had many such individuals spread across its remarkable 55+ year history. Rarely do members ever leave AABC, because the certification we provide is critical to winning business. With that in mind, friendships among members have been established for decades, and we have witnessed (pre-pandemic) the palpable comradery at our annual meetings.
The past two years have been a transformative period for the association, with the realities of the pandemic pushing us to step up our marketing projects and refresh our drive to influence the industry. However, the new effort has nearly exhausted our regular pool of volunteers. We were in need of more members willing to join committees, task forces, writing articles, and helping any in way that align with our objectives of growth and standardizing the test and balance industry. Using our rich history and community as an engagement tool, we decided it was time to educate our broader membership about our founding fathers, and recognize modern members who fully embody their principles of quality, integrity, and independence. Established in 2021 and intended as the highest honor that the association can bestow, the AABC Hall of Fame is reserved for AABC members, past or present, who over the course of their careers have provided extraordinary service and contributions to the association, or more generally to the field of testing and balancing. Every year, the Board is tasked with nominating three modern members as candidates for the membership to vote on, with the winner being announced at the fall annual meeting.
The Hall of Fame was created to inspire our membership annually to engage with the association, and help participate toward our growth. Some of these objectives include writing industry articles to be published by our media partners, sitting on the app development committee, joining the marketing committee, identifying prospects for our industry partner program, and more. This project would help reacclimate our membership to engaging with our association as we returned to our first in-person meeting in two years.
Using our founding fathers as the first three historical inductees, and their beliefs as the criteria for nominations, was so important for creating member spirit. AABC was founded in 1965 by professional engineers who strongly believed that the then-new discipline of testing and balancing should be performed by qualified firms specializing in TAB, and who—by virtue of being independent of general or installing contractors, manufacturers, or design engineering firms —had no potential conflicts of interest in delivering an accurate, unbiased test and balance report for the benefit of the building/project owner. More than 50 years later, AABC remains the only organization that mandates the strict independence of its certified firms. This ethical stance is what separates ourselves from comparable organizations, and also creates a sense of unity among our members.
Our overall goal for this project was to offer an incentive to members who go above and beyond for our organization, hopefully inspiring the next generation to step up and get involved. We would achieve this by receiving a positive reception to the launch of the Hall of Fame, accruing a decent number of votes from member companies, and having great attendance at the award ceremony at the annual meeting.
Members who feel like they matter and make an impact on their organization are more likely to feel engaged and participate. The most important tactic to make the project feel like a community effort was to open a ballot for the three modern inductees that the Board of directors nominated. Each member company would have one vote. This way, certified members at each company must decide as a group who they are voting for, further increasing more conversation around the topic.
The Board decided to have three historical inductees, and three modern candidates for membership to vote on. We created short well-written biographies for them concentrated around their contributions to the development or continued success of our association, and dug up high quality photos to pair. The bios included stories of how fellow peers stayed up all night grading exams by hand, editing thousands of technical papers, and how the founding members created those very exams and first publications over fifty years ago. All of this information, including a Hall of Fame banner and official description was placed in a permanent landing pace on the AABC website. We also added a banner to the front page of the website to invite website visitors to review our association’s history and current impactful members.
We began by sending a series of HTML emails to our members introducing them to the Hall of Fame and calling for votes on the three modern candidates. On social media, we focused on highlighting each of the Board’s historical inductees, who are the three founding fathers of AABC. Because these three original members were trailblazers for the entire industry, it also garnered attention and appreciation from non-members belonging to competing associations. In addition, we included a running story about the Hall of Fame in our weekly newsletter until the ballots closed. Lastly, we decided to announce the new Hall of Fame inductee in-person at the annual meeting, a perfect way to also boost engagement and attendance.
Success Metrics/Results Achieved
We achieved a high engagement rate from our membership, as well as an unexpected positive sentimental response from our members and the larger test and balance community. Over 50% of our member companies voted for a hall of fame nominee, we had 343 hits on the landing page of the website where the nominees and historical inductees could be reviewed, and 81 members attended to see the award ceremony in-person at the AABC Annual Meeting. Given the current COVID-19 pandemic, the annual meeting was back to pre-pandemic attendance levels. On LinkedIn, the five posts introducing the program, the three historical inductees, and announcing the winner received 3,800 impressions and 82 likes. These results were great for an account with only 600 followers and a membership base that largely doesn’t have a social media presence. However, the most rewarding metrics were the endearing comments and responses we received from the membership and professionals in the field. Some of those comments are below, and included in the attachments is a rewarding picture of the AABC Hall of Fame 2021 inductee sleeping with his award. Going forward, our next step is to introduce quarterly emails on call for volunteers. We strongly believe that now that we are bestowing high honors to those who dedicate their free time to AABC, our membership will be more engaged and have a restored incentive to help further the industry with us. “George thank you for your leadership and your decades of volunteer time to help us better the TAB industry. This is a testament to your character and the example you have created. I wish you and your family the best in life!” – AABC
Member LinkedIn comment “Thank you all for making last Thursday one of the proudest days in my life. Even though I knew prior to Thursday that I had been elected it really didn’t dawn on me how important the award is and how honored I felt. My emotions really kicked in when I watched the membership roll call progress row by row and I started thinking about all the special friendships I have with almost everyone in attendance-including you and Anna. Then when Ray started the formal induction phase of the meeting and he so eloquently addressed each induction with the perfect amount of formality and emotion I realized how important this point in time was to me and will always be. When Ray announced I was the selected candidate I wasn’t sure I could even speak and about half of what I had planned on saying went North!! Thank you all for your efforts in bringing an honor of this magnitude to the table for our membership. Also, “Hats Off” and a big Thank you to Mike Kelly, and the Board for their continued efforts and hard work in making our Association the very best in the industry. Everyone stay safe and healthy!” – Email from 2021 Modern Hall of Fame Inductee.