Q&A: Give Me Shelter – After a busy year, outgoing IAAM
President Ross thinks he?ll have time for hobbies now

Q&A: Give Me Shelter – After a busy year,
outgoing IAAM President Ross thinks he?ll have time for hobbies
now
Author: Pam Sherborne
Date: August 1, 2006

David Ross will step down as International
Association of Assembly Managers (IAAM) president during the
association?s annual conference and trade show, Aug. 4-8, in San
Antonio. He said he does so with conflicting feelings. On one hand,
he will have more time to ?come back to my day job? as director of
the Show Me Center, on the campus of Southeast Missouri State
University, Cape Girardeau, where he has been for 19 years. On the
other hand, he is envious of incoming president Larry Perkins,
assistant general manager, RBC Center, Raleigh, N.C., for the great
year Perkins will surely have as IAAM president. ?But, time
permitting now, I plan to work on my golf game a little more,? Ross
said. ?I like to do historical and genealogical research. I?ll do
more of that.? He may also find more time for his photography. But,
one thing for sure, his year as IAAM president will never be
forgotten.

Venues Today: What do you think are the defining
moments of your presidential term that you?ll be most proud of 10
years from now?The formation of the Shelter Management Task Force
and the final product they produced, ?Mega Shelter Best Practices.?
The formation of IAAM Europe as an actual entity, fulfilling the
vision of Dick Walsh?s term and the efforts of Jimmy Earl?s term.
The first class of the Graduate Institute of the Public Assembly
Facility Management School, completing the dream of past presidents
Carol Wallace and Ray Ward. The financial stabilization of the
World Headquarters (WHQ). This year our lease revenues surpassed
our expenses for the first time, thus realizing a dream of John
Smith?s presidency and justifying the struggle of Joe Floreano?s
term.

What are the most significant issues and
concerns facing the industry today? Certainly high ticket prices,
fuel prices, the economy and safety and security. The first two
keep people at home. Fuel prices affect people financially as well
as mentally. They are not as easily motivated to drive any distance
for events. Attending public entertainment events are not essential
to survival. When a majority of consumers are worried about paying
the bills, their discretionary income is the first to go. People
have to feel secure before they?ll venture out. Whether it is
terrorism, gang related or weather related, patrons have to feel
safe in their environment or they won?t return.

On a personal level as head of the IAAM
organization, what did you learn? Were there any surprises?I
learned we have incredible talents and dedication among our
membership. We have members who are very generous with their time
and knowledge for the benefit of this association. I learned a
valuable lesson of diversity, the ability to communicate in
different languages and understand different opinions from your
own. Having a diversified team allows you the luxury of seeing
things from different perspectives. I reaffirmed that we have a
dedicated and hard working staff at the World Headquarters that are
very supportive of our membership. I learned that, try as you
might, you can?t have all the answers. You have to depend upon
other people for help. Surprises? Yes, Hurricane Katrina. It came
very early in my term and required strong decisions and immediate
action. The decisions on how we should react to the plight of our
affected members and how we could best assist them. The Shelter
Management Task Force, chaired by Greg Davis, answered IAAM?s call
for this catastrophe. They produced a product that will be used for
years to come by our membership. Either as a teaching and training
tool or a reference manual, it will make a difference in saving
lives in the future.

When you first took over as IAAM president last
year, you had four main targets of focus. One was education. What
strides do you feel were made over the past year in these
areas?John Siehl and the Board of Education (BOE) did an excellent
job in keeping our educational offerings at an excellent level. The
BOE also made excellent progress on the second edition of the
Public Assembly Facility Management textbook. It has taken some
time and effort on their parts to update some information and
rewrite some chapters, but, in the end, we?ll have a better product
to teach students.

What about membership?Beth Wade, CFE took charge
of the Membership Committee when Co-chair Marco Perez had to step
down during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I couldn?t be more
proud of the tremendous job she and her committee have done. They
worked to increase membership recognition in IAAM. The committee
increased membership this year by improving our retention rate.
They made a concentrated effort to contact all members who had let
their membership lapse and renewed those who were still actively
involved in the business of facility management.

And the smaller markets and venues focus?The
Small Markets/Small Facilities segment of IAAM was serviced this
year by a web-based video streaming conference. Any market or
facility could access the educational session via the internet and
have multiple people participate for the price of one. The session
topic this year focused on the many hats that the manager of a
smaller facility/market has to wear in order to be successful.

Finally, you were focusing on the IAAM
Foundation?In an ?in between campaigns? year for the Foundation, I
decided to focus on a membership annual giving campaign. This year
we were just shy of 20% participation. While I had set our goal on
a 51% majority of members giving, we were successful in increasing
the percentage of members contributing to the Foundation annually
by 6%. I still believe the goal is attainable, but will take more
time to reach the newer members and cultivate the habit of
personally supporting their own foundation.

How is IAAM trying to raise public awareness it
exists?We?ve been successful in raising public awareness of IAAM
through the work of the Life Safety Council (LSC). The council is
chaired by past president Frank Poe and they have continued to work
aggressively with DHS. Their work has exposed the professionalism
of IAAM to other high profile organizations like the major sports
leagues. The Shelter Management Task Force? efforts have not gone
unnoticed in Washington, D.C. In addition to the direct work they
have been doing with FEMA and the American Red Cross, their work
has been presented to the Secretary of the Department of Homeland
Security (DHS), Michael Chertoff. The external affairs committee is
currently working on a plan now to publicize the Mega Shelter
guidelines should they be needed in the future.

You have spoken of many attributes past
presidents have brought to IAAM. What are the things you feel you
brought to the table to leave for IAAM?I believe I brought the
capacity to listen and consider issues from both sides. I think I
brought a willingness to collaborate with other groups and
associations for the benefit of our industry and I believe I
brought hope to the ?little guy? who might one day dream of being
president of IAAM.

Interviewed for this story: David Ross, (573)
651-2297