30 Years at the CGA

CGA

Between September 30, 2014 and October 2, 2014, FIBA participated in the 2ND CGA Cylinder Requalification Operations Safety Seminar.  FIBA’s President and CEO, Jack Finn, opened the seminar with a keynote address entitled 30 Years at the CGA.  Jack provided a humorous, but heartfelt, account of his growth as a CGA member over the past 30 years starting with his first meeting at Seaview in New Jersey (where he joined his father, Frank Finn, Sr.) to his current position as a 20-year, voting member of the CGA Board of Directors.  He spoke of the generations of CGA members, his mentors, CGA leadership within the global compressed gas industry, and his progressive participation in and contributions to the association’s activities.  Jack encouraged all attendees to begin to start thinking about a plan for the next generation of CGA members.

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FIBA’s President and CEO Speech:

Good morning.

My name is Jack Finn and I want to welcome you to CGA’s Cylinder Requalification Operations Safety Seminar. Over the next three days, you’ll be hearing from a host of worldwide experts discussing critical topics related to cylinder requalification.

Although I was not invited here today as one of those experts, CGA still evidently felt I had something of value to say.

Of course, I’ll let you be the judge of that.

In addition to being President and CEO of Massachusetts-based FIBA Technologies ― which is a senior member of CGA ― I have been on CGA’s Board for the past 20 years and served on several of its committees. My affiliation with the organization goes back even further than that … and that’s really what I’m here today to discuss.

All told, I have been involved with CGA for over 30 years. That’s because I believe firmly in its mission, capabilities, qualifications and accomplishments. It may sound odd in this cynical age but, quite simply, I am immensely proud to be a member.

Just consider this. CGA represents one of our nation’s oldest and most successful self-regulatory, industry-based agencies. Due largely to CGA, our industry has an exceptional safety track record ― one that’s far superior to the chemical, petrochemical and propane industries. No wonder it serves as the model ― “the standard,” if you will ― for similar organizations around the world.

Now that’s something we all can rightly be proud of.

However, as part of my enduring commitment to CGA, I’m reminded of the famous saying “Never rest on one’s successes.” I urgently desire a future for CGA that is as esteemed as its past and present. I’m sure all of you here share this sentiment. And that means the responsibility of ensuring a continued tradition of excellence ― of laying a solid groundwork for a smooth succession within the CGA ranks, so to speak ― rests on our collective shoulders.

Mind you, even with 30+ years in my rearview mirror, I’m not ready to pass the baton just yet. But I am ready to think about something that I’ll call “CGA: A Plan for the Next Generation.”

Notice that I said “think about.” I don’t claim to have the plan already. Remember, this calls for a collective effort on all our parts.

So, to that end, I figured that a productive way to start thinking about the future … is to reminisce about the past.

In 1982 I was a twenty-something up-and-comer, at least in my eyes. A “ready-to-conquer-the-world-because-the world- is-waiting-just-for-me” kind of guy. You know the type. (Quite possibly, you were the type.)

Anyway, I attended the annual CGA meeting at Seaview Country Club in Absecon, New Jersey, in the summer of 1982. (I can tell by the nods which ones of you were there.) I went with my father, who was the founder of FIBA and a CGA member for more than 40 years. Just like over the next three days, there was lots of important stuff going on back then: Committee meetings to update handling, transport and storage safety standards; discussions about designs and manufacturing processes; presentations about global challenges confronting the industry; etc.

Me? I skillfully managed to avoid all that and hone in on the really important stuff: Golf. A running competition. And the attraction of Atlantic City’s casinos.

On the way home, when Dad asked me what I thought of the CGA event, I answered honestly, “It was great!” Thank goodness he didn’t ask me for any specifics having to do with the really significant and weighty achievements that had transpired.

Of course, as is the habit of all caring dads, my father gently but firmly used the occasion as a teaching moment. In not so many words, he said “Next time, you need to go to the committee meetings. You’ll learn more there than at the slots.”

Thanks, Dad; that was good advice.

As part of my business maturation process, I took my Dad’s words to heart at the next CGA meeting that I attended. I went prepared ― and fully determined ― to contribute in valuable ways … maybe even enlighten others, to help them in their own respective business maturation processes. After all, I was now in my mid twenties, with a solid five years of experience under my belt. I considered myself a genuine warehouse of industry information.

Well, in attending the cylinder specification committee meeting, I’m not so sure I contributed very much … but I really came to appreciate the importance of listening as the ultimate way to learn. For me, that was nothing short of a revelation.

So as time went by ― mind you, I was rapidly approaching, and then rapidly passing, the big 3-0, so I was really getting serious about this whole “business-as-a-profession” thing ― I attended more and more CGA meetings. I listened. I met CGA members and staff. I read CGA materials voraciously. I formulated questions. I even ventured opinions here and there.

In short, I began to contribute.

And that’s when my real education about CGA truly began. Because CGA is all about reciprocity.

CGA is an organization in which the more you give, the more you get. You help others in your industry by sharing insights; you help others the world over by promoting the safe, secure and environmentally-responsible manufacture, transportation, storage and disposal of industrial and medical gases and their containers.

In return, you enjoy the immeasurable satisfaction of working in an industry that is paving the way for a cleaner, more energy-efficient planet.

Just think about the amazing thing we’re doing through this association. As members, we are regulating ourselves; we are quite literally policing ourselves. We are shaping our own industry, whether we work for a gas company or an equipment manufacturer like FIBA. As a collaborative group ― colleagues working side by side with colleagues ― we are developing the safety standards that oversee so many aspects of our business.

And here’s the thing: The formula is working ― to an incredible degree.

The standards we write and submit are readily and consistently adopted by bodies like the Department of Transportation and the FDA. Why? Because they recognize the quality of our efforts; they appreciate the depth of our expertise and know-how. Perhaps most significantly, they appreciate how diligent and responsible we are in crafting those safety standards.

Pat yourself on the back: By their very actions as well as their significant participation in this seminar, the governmental regulatory bodies are recognizing and acknowledging the sincere, dedicated passion everyone in this room has about ensuring the safe operation of our industry.

To me, that’s a ringing endorsement ― albeit, of course, an implicit one ― that speaks volumes about our success in bringing CGA’s mission to life. It affirms ― it adds credibility and legitimacy to ― the tagline of this association: “The standard for safety since 1913.”

Which reminds me: The simple fact that last year CGA celebrated its 100th birthday … well, what does that tell you about how successful this organization has been?

And there’s absolutely no doubt in my mind. By faithfully executing its mission, CGA continues to create a robust, vibrant industry that carries untold benefits. Yes, CGA is good for the welfare of citizens worldwide. But it is also good for those of us who make our living in this industry. You know it and I know it: CGA is good for business.

Yes, sir. There’s much we have to be proud of this morning.

Nice job, one and all.

But getting back to my personal timeline ― I was now hooked: I was a full-fledged member. I stepped up to the plate at CGA meetings with ideas, thoughts and observations. A case in point: Flashing forward several years from the episodes described in my last narrative, I once went to a CGA cylinder spec committee meeting at which I introduced a revolutionary and somewhat controversial new concept. FIBA had developed an innovative process and standards for testing cylinders that represented a marked departure from conventional methods. I formed a new CGA subcommittee called “Alternative Retest Methods.” The results were very gratifying, given that this particular process is now widely used in the industry.

You give, you get. The cycle is ongoing.

At this point, I must highlight what is ― for me ― the most important component of CGA’s DNA: Its people … from its members to its staff. Since that first meeting in 1982 alongside Dad, I have had the opportunity and immense pleasure to work with an incredibly dedicated team of seasoned professionals. They have always been ― and continue to be today ― selfless individuals who are passionate about their jobs and industry safety. These people ― each of whom has their own specialized field of expertise ― give willingly of their time on nights and weekends. They are driven by a desire to keep raising the bar … to continually burnish the reputation of CGA as the standard-bearer for self-regulating industry agencies.

Several of these individuals took me under their wings many years ago. I consider them to have been my mentors in my formative early days … and some of them continue in that identical role to the present day. I would therefore like to take a brief moment to acknowledge each of them by name:

    • Bill Barlen CGA/Matheson
    • Clark Hall Taylor Warton
    • Frank Omillion Linde
    • Dave Scott Air Products
    • Jerry Sameth CGA/Matheson
    • Dr. John Smith NIST
    • Sam Testa Liquid Carbonic
    • Ralph Tribolet Praxair

I have also had the personal privilege of working with three different CGA presidents: Carl Johnson, Mark Meyteyer and now Mike Tiller. I applaud their ceaseless efforts in keeping CGA the premier organization of its kind. Additionally, the CGA staff has always professional courteous and knowledgeable.

As you all know, the reach of CGA is quite broad. The association, of course, serves industrial gases, with applications across such diverse markets as the construction industry and energy-related products. But CGA also serves medical gases. Here too the applications are diverse ― from gases used in hospitals to life-sustaining oxygen for home therapy.

CGA also deals with carbon dioxide in applications like beverage manufacturing, fire suppression systems and well fracturing operations. In addition, the association is involved with chemicals for pharmaceutical products and electronics equipment, such as those required for the manufacture of flat-screen TVs and computer monitors.

Point being: CGA’s influence is widespread. So much so, in fact, that CGA is known, respected and renowned the world over – as can be attested by this audience, which consists of persons from at least 13 different countries.

Let me elaborate briefly on this last point.

As mentioned previously, CGA’s reputation is such that it serves as a model for similar organizations around the globe. Over the past 10 to 15 years, look what’s happened: We’ve seen the establishment and growth of the European Gas Association, the Japan Gas Association and similar gas associations throughout Asia. All these organizations have something very conspicuous in common: They all mimic the organizational structure of the CGA and the groundbreaking work it’s been doing for over a century.

It’s no exaggeration to state that CGA is recognized as THE worldwide standard in self-regulatory, industry-based agencies. Two quick proof points: South American standards are all adaptations of the CGA standards … and the language used in Asian organizations is the language that CGA developed.

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

So, again: Nice work, CGA.

Well, I see that the recitation of my “CGA personal timeline” ― as well as my allocated keynote speaker time ― is just about over. That pretty much brings you up to date on my 30+ years of experience with CGA, subtitled “The Growing Pains of Jack Finn.”

Yet it also brings me full circle to my first and primary point: CGA has a noble history of accomplishing tremendous things, but the time is now to starting thinking about ― and preparing for ― tomorrow … and what I previously referred to as “CGA: A Plan for the Next Generation.”

I’ve already confessed: I myself don’t have that plan yet; I’d be surprised if anyone in this room does. That’s perfectly fine. As you certainly know by now, I think the world of all of you and the work you’re doing. Keep it up!

My point this morning is simply that we all need to begin thinking about how to ensure that the vital work of CGA continues at the same level of professionalism it’s always shown. I consider myself a second-generation “CGAer,” following in the footsteps of my Dad. My sons are also employed by FIBA and participants of CGA. They and others like them will take up the torch as part of CGA’s third generation.

Let’s you and I work together now and begin laying the groundwork for them to make their succession as smooth and effective as possible.

Thank you very much.

John Finn is the company’s Business Development Manager. John overseas the company’s domestic and international expansion projects. John also manages the company’s facility in Taiwan and is focused on growing the company’s business in Asia. John holds an ASNT level II certification in both acoustic emission testing and ultrasonic testing.

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Posted by at October 10, 2014
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