Interview: Bob Chalker on the 2021 Launch of AMPP

Image courtesy of AMPP.

Bob Chalker, CEO of the newly formed Association for Materials Protection and Performance (AMPP), joined a recent episode of the Materials Performance (MP) Interview Series. Topics discussed on the podcast include the ongoing transition to AMPP, which is comprised of the former NACE International and SSPC: The Society for Protective Coatings organizations.

See below for a transcript of select portions. The complete episode can be listened to below.

One Combined Organization

Mike Kline, AMPP: It was a long road getting here. Was there ever — have you gotten to the point now or was there a specific point in the process where you realized we’re AMPP now, we’re not SSPC or NACE anymore, this is one joint organization?

Bob Chalker Image courtesy of AMPP.Bob Chalker: Mike, that’s a really great question and an insightful question. There were a couple times where that happened, but I’m going to give you one. It wasn’t something that was an event specifically or a decision. But it was a meeting that I was in. We were in this meeting, there were member leaders and staff there, and we were looking at issues, concerns, things that could happen.

As I listened to an individual who spoke, and I won’t give the name, but as I listened to him speak, he was identifying some concerns and problems. As he was doing it, he was no longer doing it from the perspective of his former organization. He was doing it truly from the perspective of a new organization. That was probably one of the very first meetings that that happened. Up until that time, we all sort of had — we still had our cloak of whether we were NACE or SSPC, and we really weren’t, as a group and as individuals, looking at the new organization.

I can remember, when the person got done presenting, thinking to myself, ‘Wow, we really are becoming one organization,’ because of the way they spoke and addressed the concerns or the problems that were on the table. They weren’t looking — they had changed their perspective. That was really powerful to me, that said we’re there. We still got a lot of work to do, but mentally we’re making the shift to becoming AMPP. At that point, we didn’t even know AMPP was going to be the name. We were still going by NewOrg. But you saw the mentality shift in the leadership.

Feedback from Contractors

Ben DuBose, AMPP: I want to ask you about feedback that you've gotten from members through this process, some of the common questions or suggestions that you get. But I also want to ask you specifically about the feedback that you've heard from contractors, because Bob, like me, we both came from NACE. As far as the combination of NACE and SSPC, one of the really big changes from our perspective is bringing in the SSPC audience, which is a little more contractor heavy. I’m curious, certainly feedback from members overall, but also feedback from contractors about the changes and what we’re doing to reach out to them.

BC: Great question, Ben. Overall, the feedback has been incredibly positive. There are some naysayers. There are some people who are still concerned about — either they’re not happy with the new name, they don’t feel it represents us well, or, frankly, they’re concerned about losing their identity of their former organization. But those are few and far between, and we’ve been taking those on with individuals as those questions have come up. We’re not hiding from them. We’re addressing them. We’re engaging with people. I think they appreciate that, and I think they’re slowly starting to come around. By the way, that was on both sides. But was it 0.1%? In thousands and thousands of pieces of feedback, there’s one, two, three, or four concerns.

Contractors, specifically, we are still hypersensitive to making sure that we’re doing right by all of our constituencies, but specifically the contractors. And I’d say, on the NACE side, our international audience and making sure we’re doing right by then. I think there is still a healthy skepticism or concern — and I say healthy meaning they’re going to hold us accountable that we do what we promised, which was assure that the contractor’s voice can still be heard in the organization. We’re taking that very seriously.

As we look at committee makeup, we’re making sure that on the committees that are important to our contractors, like QP, that they have a voice in that and they’re participating. By the way, there are contractors filtered throughout. The chair of the finance committee comes from a coatings contractor background. You can go down the list, and you're going to see where contractors have key roles in the organization. Even the incoming chair, one of the board of directors, is a contractor. Actually, the incoming chair of both boards are coatings contractors, now that I think about it. Sam and Chris both come from the contractor world.

The big thing that will happen, and we still have to stand it up, but we’ll have the contractor’s council. That group is one of three councils — contractor, international, and asset owners — three very important constituencies will each have a council, which directly reports to the boards, that gives them a voice and a direct line to the boards. Throughout this process in the design and what’s core and functional to the organization is assuring that contractors can be heard.

I’m a big believer, though, you can say all those words, you can put things on paper, you can design it. Until it’s tested and proven, they have a right to be skeptical. I’m okay with that. I hope they give us a chance. I hope they invest in the organization and participate where the opportunities are. If they’re asked to volunteer, to volunteer, get involved with the coatings council, find other ways to engage with the organization so their voice is heard. We’re going to have to prove. We have to walk the talk, I guess is the best way to say it.

International Response

MK: For sure. You mentioned the international community as well. Since the announcement, have you heard any — what kind of reaction are you getting from them?

BC: It has been really positive, frankly. I would say almost exclusively positive from the international community. I think they see the benefit in it. Truthfully, it may be the international community who paid the greatest price of being two separate organizations in the past — you know, the cost to maintain dual certifications or to participate in both organizations. But it has really been an overwhelmingly positive response.

I think they have some skepticism, the same with the contractors: Show me that you're going to really listen to the voice of our international community and how you're going to balance that with all the other constituencies. But I think they understand that we really have been listening to them and we’re creating a model that’s going to be successful.

One of the unknowns, and one of the things that we have to address, is how we’re going to organize what we’re calling local communities in the future — the former sections at NACE and chapters at SSPC. What does that look like in the future? That was a piece of work that we left unfinished as we came into the merger. But I will tell you the membership program committee has embraced it fully, and they know that they’ve got to design our future model. We’re using the term communities. What does that model look like on how our members come together at the local level?

Our international community is extremely interested in understanding that, and we still have some work to do to get that put together. There will be international communities. They will have a balance between autonomy to do what’s right for their local area yet stay tethered or engaged with the larger organization. That’s critical for both. They have the support and the connection of AMPP, yet they’re able to program and do things that really meet their needs at the local level. That’s one of the things we’re trying to make sure continues.

We need to make sure that there are pathways for volunteerism. One of the things that I think the international community has really appreciated and I’ve heard throughout, is the effort that we have made to communicate with them, whether it’s Town Halls being offered twice a day so that they’re in a time slot that is convenient to our international members or holding meetings through Zoom, Skype, Teams, whatever the technology is, so that they’re able to participate. I think one of the advantages of COVID was we’ve all learned how to work in this new environment at a much greater efficiency and effectiveness than ever before. That’s only going to benefit our international members, who had difficulty participating.

Even look at annual conference. It’s going to be a virtual conference. For the first time, a large number of our international members are going to be able to participate and engaged fully and not have to get on an airplane or travel or leave their homes, their communities, not have to deal with the fatigue of travel, etc. I think the organization’s really set up to support our international community. Again, we have to walk the talk.

Source: AMPP,

Related Articles