Connecting Mission With Motto
Since RIA rebranded in 2007 after a quarter century operating under the ASCR brand, the leadership, members and staff of our association have advanced its mission with the intent symbolized in the tagline to: “Provide Industry Leadership, Support Science and Promote Best Practices for Cleaning and Restoration.”
A significant aspect of the rebranding process was the creation of a motto to supplement RIA’s mission. The RIA Motto, “We make it better. We promise,” is prominently displayed on the RIA home page a decade after it was first introduced to the industry.
It took 60 years for the association, founded seven decades ago, to adopt a motto. This motto is a tie that binds the members of RIA. The late Marty King, CR, ASA, who authored C&R’s Restoration Corner for over three decades, might characterize what we do as the business and profession of damage repair. The business of restoration is finishing projects on time and on budget while satisfying all the stakeholders, often under adverse situations while remaining professional and making a profit.
Shared values and purpose with a commitment to excellence and integrity in the restoration arts and sciences is the mission of RIA, and its motto the members’ mandate. The authors opine that that mandate, when successfully executed on each project, is what differentiates RIA members from others who work in the industry. RIA members are the best restoration project managers in the world!
Execution: The Foundation of Project Management
During the final year of King’s retirement as RIA’s Technical Advisor, he penned his last Restoration Corner column in the Nov./Dec. 2010 issue of C&R magazine entitled, “Companies That Succeed.” King’s closing message to RIA members in his association role is epitomized in the three paragraphs excerpted below:
No matter how nifty the new equipment is, or how well-designed the advertising, neither (nor both) are enough to raise a restorer to solid long-term growth. We’ll suggest a different path: organization. Success comes from completing jobs on time with good workmanship and the cost on budget. Organization is more than just assigning people to specific duties. It takes foresight and a plan.
The concept of a well-integrated process includes everything from contracts to estimates, scheduling and invoicing, as well as projecting realistic completion dates without vacations between trades or abrupt interruptions for other “emergencies.”
Another part of it is a realistic picture of the firm’s capacity and the discipline to limit new work when the capacity is reached. Firms that can’t say “no” to new assignments weaken whatever organization they might have and are careening on blind luck. We have seen the disastrous result of that policy.
A Mission and Motto Worth Emulating
Creating a sense of shared purpose might best be exemplified by the U.S. Marines. Their website states, “Our Purpose: Defending our nation at home. Protecting her interests abroad.” This is symbolized by the Marine Corps’ well-known tagline, “The Few. The Proud.” The Marines further state their purpose is their promise, which drives the mission that forms the Marines’ reputation as America's force in readiness. This is honored through the reciprocal commitment between the Marine and Marine Corps, expressed in their motto: “Semper Fidelis.”
Semper Fidelis (or “Semper Fi,” as Marines greet each other) distinguishes the Marine Corps bond from any other. It goes beyond teamwork — it is a brotherhood on which one can always depend. Latin for "always faithful," Semper Fidelis became the Marine Corps motto in 1883. For over two centuries it has guided Marines to remain faithful to the mission at hand, to each other, to the Corps and to country — no matter what!
A Military Analogy to Restoration “Trench Warfare”
The Marine motto and tagline has been analogized to RIA and its members in the work they do. Members holding a RIA advanced certification, such as those who become a CR, WLS or CMP, often embrace their fellow RIA certified colleagues as being part of something special, like a brotherhood or fraternity.
Those CRs who went through Marty’s “Hell Week” back in the day certainly know what we are talking about: The CRs who shared that experience often became friends and colleagues for the rest of their professional career! This is the same bond that exists with a Marine: Once a Marine, always a Marine.
A well-known long-time RIA member who passed away last year was a good friend of the authors. He was one of the industry’s unsung heroes and trailblazers who often operated out of the spotlight, but whose engagement with fellow members helped him grow his business while helping others do the same.
That member was the late Butch Carpenter, founder of Ideal Restoration in the San Francisco Bay Area. Today his daughter Jaclyn carries on the legacy of Ideal while being of service to her association, just like she learned from her father. Carpenter was a Marine who served his country with pride before he became a professional restorer.
At Carpenter’s Celebration of Life ceremony, Pete Consigli eulogized his friend in front of his family, friends and fellow RIA members, some of whom travelled to California for the ceremony. The Marine honor guard played “Taps” and presented a folded American flag to Carpenter’s wife Michelle, who co-founded and helped build Ideal with her husband into a leading restoration contractor in their market area.
Associations hold a special place in society, where like-minded people come to “associate” to do together what they cannot do alone: things like helping advance and preserve the industry from which they derive their livelihood by influencing legislation, supporting a lobby, collaborating on certification, education and standards setting. Associations also, perhaps more importantly, utilize a unified voice to ward off threats to the profession that could affect growth and prosperity for the next generation.
Although restoration is normally not a matter of life and death as in warfare, a case could be made that the global impact the members of RIA make by serving their customers at such a vulnerable time after a disaster is an honorable profession. Bringing order from chaos and restoring disaster victims’ peace of mind sounds similar to the results of a successful Marine mission.
In the early 1990s, Ideal Restoration launched a marketing campaign to differentiate the company from the competition with the tagline, “Ideal Restores Your Peace of Mind.” The intent of that statement became Ideal’s defacto mission. The spirit of that mission underlies Carpenter’s deeply held believe that if Ideal took care of its customers, the customers would take care of the company.
Carpenter would continually encourage his employees and subcontractors to “take care of the customer,” which became as ubiquitous as if it was the motto plastered on the wall. Carpenter impressed on his employees every day that companies that don’t take care of the customer eventually have a business no one calls for service. Their life might not depend on it, but their job certainly did!
Setting the Bar High
The Marines are the only organization on the planet that can be assembled and landed anywhere in the world in six hours to execute their mission. A worthy goal for the members of RIA could be to emulate the Marines’ legendary response time by mobilizing and responding to global catastrophes anywhere in the world in 24 hours! The around-the-clock news cycle of today’s world reveals that national disasters and global catastrophes occur on a frequent and consistent basis.
Embracing the RIA mission and executing the meaning of its motto, the next generation of restorers can achieve lofty goals. Young Turk members of RIA like Jaclyn Carpenter, WLS, CMP, and many others often second- or third-generation restorers, through association involvement will build a business that one day they can pass on to their children or long-term employees.
The restoration industry’s most prestigious honor is the Martin L. King Award, which has been presented annually since 1986 at RIA’s convention. The award recognizes an individual who has made significant and conspicuous contribution to the restoration profession over many years. Eligibility is not restricted to professional restorers or RIA members. The Young Turks reading this column who aspire to receive the Martin L. King award would be served well by following in the footsteps of those who came before.
The Future Can Be Bright
President Theodore Roosevelt was well known for saying, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” The big stick was the U.S. Army and Navy, and Roosevelt realized that the U.S. president had the “bully pulpit” with the nation and world listening. This was an awesome responsibility that a world leader should accept graciously and use judiciously.
A unified industry with leadership working together to stave off threats, restrictive regulations and hostile takeovers is the big stick restorers need to build “their army and navy” to protect, preserve and grow the industry for future generations. This can happen through “association” involvement whereby special interests, egos and greed are subservient to the greater good of the profession. Rising waters raise all ships. Creative collaboration protecting restorers’ interests benefits all!
Roosevelt is also famous for saying, “Every man has an obligation to give back to the industry from which he derives his livelihood.” RIA should develop a reciprocal commitment between “the Member and the Association” expressed in its motto: We make it better. We promise. This would be analogous to the time-honored tradition of the Marines’ “Semper Fidelis.”
Just like the Marines helped Roosevelt and his successors to the White House speak softly by carrying a big stick, RIA can restore order to chaos for disaster victims worldwide by being the industry’s force in readiness when they are needed!
The authors of this article wish the next generation the best of luck and have confidence they will take the industry higher and further than those who came before them. They hope to see the day that the restoration industry has a unified voice led by RIA and its members. In the words of Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”