It’s hard to believe we’re already into July 2022. Coming off a very successful Annual Convention in Orlando, it’s also hard to believe my time has arrived to take the “Big Shoes” as FNGLA President. Passing the big shoes is a well-loved FNGLA tradition at Annual Convention where the outgoing president figuratively 'passes' leadership onto the new president by bestowing a large-sized pair of shoes. This year, in honor of outgoing President Sarah Spatola, it was a large pair of high heels.
It was surely a memorable event as we celebrated FNGLA’s 2022 Industry Award winners, installed new Officers, and engaged our industry peers and their families for a festive few days at a beautiful resort. Not to be forgotten was the roast of Ben Bolusky, our beloved CEO, who stepped down after 24 years. With Roast appearances by Bill Reese, Mike Martin, Jerry Frye and Jim Spratt - and video messages from Kat Cammack, Mario Diaz-Balart, Halsey Beshears and Adam Putnam - Ben was surprised to say the least when the FNGLA staff’s well-planned event took a detour and Ben was recalled to the stage to a new seat. There was a whole ‘lotta laughs and maybe a few tears as stories were told during the President’s Gala about Ben and his decades of service.
At the same time, we welcomed FNGLA’s incoming CEO, Tal Coley, and his family for their first FNGLA Annual Convention. They were excited to be starting such a new chapter of life and be a part of the festivities. Having already worked closely with Tal, getting ourselves up-to-speed on the myriad issues in the weeks leading up to Annual Convention, I can tell you he is eager to get fully underway and lead FNGLA through whatever the future holds.
With the Annual Convention always comes change, and we’ve seen plenty of that in our respective market segments as well. With continued material-sourcing issues, labor shortages and government overreach plaguing our industry like never before it is important we work together to adapt and overcome these changes and challenges. Having been a part of three separate FNGLA Chapters over the years, I’ve seen so many different businesses overcome obstacles. I’m excited to engage the membership in coming weeks and months. Tal and I plan to travel to as many Chapter events as possible, together when schedules permit, to do just that- get out and meet people face-to-face and make sure the FNGLA state office is doing what it can for FNGLA Member businesses.
In the weeks leading up to becoming President, I was often asked, “Are you ready?” I’ll admit the answer wasn’t always a clear “Yes.” But, as was the case when I started in 2008 on the Frontrunners Board of Directors (at the behest of some long-time members), I have willfully stepped up to the plate. Despite no shortage of goings-on both at BioSafe Systems and at home with two small children, I accepted the challenge and am proud to serve such an amazing organization of people. Many whom I will count as friends for the rest of my life.
That leads me to my final few words for this month: If there are open Board or Officer seats in your Chapter, I strongly hope you consider stepping up to the plate. Sure, everyone is very busy and Chapter Installation events are in a few weeks, but if there’s a seat open, fill it! Ask your customers or suppliers. They feel the same pressures! As the times change, we need to as well, and that means getting involved in any level possible to ensure we continue to promote and protect our interests as FNGLA members.
Eric Smith (BioSafe Systems, Tampa)
FNGLA 2022-23 President