FSA Award of Merit

FSA Merit Award

It takes a lot to leave me speechless. But it happened this past week.

FSA Merit Award
In picture above, left to right: Phil Mahoney [Vice President]/ ME/ Mike Shorts [President]/ Greg Raty [Prior President]

This week I received a Merit Award from the Fluid Sealing Association for my work with the Marketing Committee in establishing, maintaining, and growing the FSA’s social presence in the marketplace. This recognition was completely unnecessary and a complete surprise.

As a digital media addict, I goggled the definition of “Merit.”   Here’s what I found:



My favorite definition of “merit” is the British version, which states, “Making a Good Grade.” This statement reminds me of something my mom would say everyday as I went to school: “MAKE A 100” meant “DO YOUR BEST.” It was never about being perfect but about doing my best and applying my talents.  Then, we can help others.

And this award means a lot to me because it represents the work of many people, not just me. As I held the award for a photo, I was overwhelmed with pride when looking at the team gathered in the room.   It’s the same feeling I have when my son catches a line drive. It that feeling of making your entire body smile to the point of tears… even though I hate to let people see me cry. So…I fight that feeling with other thoughts.

There was a room full of people watching this happen to me and I was unable to say anything other than thank you. I wish I had maintained my composure better because there are a number of people that I need to thank for encouraging and supporting me in this journey with FSA.

First, I would like to thank Ed Marchese, President and CEO of Proco Products, who encouraged me to become an active member of FSA. Ed was President of FSA at the first meeting I attended and strongly encouraged me to share my talents with the industry. I remember his talk that day where he stated, “you get out of FSA, what you put into it.” Very true and inspiring words.

Second, Janet Jessen, who was the Chair of the Marketing Committee and VP of Global Marketing, Innovation and Engineering for Garlock Sealing Technologies, at that time, and I was deeply honored to meet her. She has a strong legacy in the industry and I was a little intimidated to be honest. I just kept telling myself…”you just got here…don’t talk…just listen and learn.” True to character, I didn’t stay silent for long.

During that first meeting, I received the assignment to talk with Ian Baynes, Director of Global Marketing with A.W. Chesterton Company, to learn more about a new FSA LinkedIn Group he created, and I started framing thoughts on how to help the Association.

It was during the next meeting I attended that my commitment to the Association grew even more. Not only did Ian deliver a great and inspiring talk to the team, but Janet also informed the Leadership Committee that she would be resigning as head of the Marketing Committee. On a personal level, I was disappointed in Janet’s decision because I was looking forward to working and learning from one of the best minds in the industry.

For the next few months, I continued my work on building a stronger and more consistent social media presence for FSA. A few months later, Greg Raty, FSA President at the time, appointed me to head the Marketing Committee. I was flooded by a wave of emotions. While flattering, there was no way I could follow Janet. In addition, I was in the first year of my own start-up venture, which required a full commitment of my own time. But the belief of Ed, Ian and others in my abilities confirmed my investment in FSA.

So I plunged head first into the FSA…. leveraging my skills and knowledge of digital media to help the FSA grow. I knew that our collective contributions to the industry create a stronger environment for companies to thrive. I wanted to help because I believed in the team, the people and the companies in this industry.

One of the best parts of leading the Marketing Committee was that I was afforded the luxury of gaining access and working with the incredibly brilliant leaders of the FSA. I even found myself attending Technical Committee meetings because I knew that this deeper information would translate into stronger marketing programs because I have stronger insights into the industry and its needs and future direction.

I remember that meeting well because the group was talking about the impeding approval of a new testing standard…that was initiated 10years AGO! I admired the resolve and contributions from people across the industry. It really reinforced the importance and power of industry Associations and their lasting legacies on so many people and companies.

Finally, I want to say a special thanks to Ian Baynes, whom I share this award with, and taught me more in two years about the power of marketing to lead, develop, and encourage others than I have learned in my 10 years in the industry. And, to all the Chairs, Presidents, Vice Presidents, Technical Directors past and present… You should be proud of what you have accomplished, and I share my “good grade” with you!

P.S. I am now Vice Chair of the FSA Membership Committee… So if you want to join the FSA, let me know!