The World of Givers and Takers

Alec J. Rexroat

December 1, 2012

attending another informative and educational Committee Days meeting, it
occurred to me that the mechanical insulation industry—like the rest of the
world—can be divided generally into “givers” and “takers.” Givers are the
people and companies who seek to better our industry through active
participation in their professional community, business associations, and other
efforts in which they give their time and energy for a greater good. We all
benefit from the work of givers, both directly and indirectly. How much we
benefit depends on how much we involve and support them in our business—and how
much we give in return.

Givers Are Good
for Business

the best-qualified mechanical insulation professional is easier when you start
from a pool of qualified candidates. Companies and individuals who have been
involved with the National Insulation Association (NIA) and other industry
organizations have advantages and resources that cannot be matched by those
outside of these associations. Members of NIA, for example, have access to the
most up-to-date information on issues such as safety awareness, human resources
requirements, developments in their sector of the industry (e.g., merit or
union contractor, distributor/fabricator, manufacturer), and training to
improve their knowledge and skills. NIA and other associations provide
opportunities for members to learn from each other and from experts on topics
of interest to the industry through participation at annual meetings,
conventions, and other networking opportunities. The knowledge, skills, and
resources they develop through their involvement in NIA and regional
associations offer you and your business direct benefits ranging from quality
and cost-effective services and products to enhanced worker safety and

You probably don’t have to look far to identify one of these
givers. A colleague involved in a professional association is a giver; the
plant manager from across town who spends his free time going to monthly
meetings is a giver; the insulation contractor, manufacturer, or distributor
who belongs to one of NIA’s committees is a giver; as is the insulation service
provider who belongs to a regional association. Perhaps your insulation service
provider belongs to the local city association and serves on the Board of
Directors. Hiring these people/companies for your next job not only benefits
your business, it allows you to give back to those whose efforts benefit so

Givers Improve
Our Industry

insulation industry owes a debt to givers who continuously strive to improve
worker safety, promote the value of mechanical insulation, raise the industry’s
profile on Capitol Hill and elsewhere, and develop training materials for use
by individuals in all sectors and at all levels of experience in the industry.

Givers have been involved in NIA from
the very beginning, donating time, talent, and money to promote safety in the
mechanical insulation industry. They created the Theodore H. Brodie
Distinguished Safety Award program, which offers NIA members the opportunity to
apply for safety awards and receive a critique of their safety program. These
givers have contributed toward making NIA contractor, manufacturer, and
distributor members the safest companies in the mechanical insulation industry.

Industry givers also created the unprecedented alliance
between NIA and the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and
Allied Workers to promote the effective use of mechanical insulation on Capitol
Hill and to the many government stakeholders that control the nation’s energy
consumption. These givers take time from their schedules to visit senators and
members of Congress to promote mechanical insulation. Thanks to them, while
many legislative priorities are currently sidelined, energy efficiency has won
the attention of Congress, which passed the Enabling Energy Saving Innovation
Act of 2012, H.R. 4850, with amendments focused on energy efficiency in federal
agencies and the industrial sector. Givers also work with the Department of
Energy to promote mechanical insulation, and with the National Institute of
Building Sciences to make all disciplines in the construction industry aware of
the importance of mechanical insulation.

It is the givers of the North American Insulation
Manufacturers Association who created the 3E Plus® Insulation
Thickness Computer Program—embraced and promoted by givers at NIA—that
identifies heat loss, greenhouse gas emissions, return on investment, and
energy savings potential of mechanical insulation. NIA givers also helped
create and support the 3E Plus training class and the Certified Insulation
Energy Appraisal Program. NIA givers meet regularly to create interesting and
informative programs for Convention and Committee Days so all members can
increase their knowledge of mechanical insulation and safe working practices,
and hone their business acumen. 

To promote continuing education and training, givers were
responsible for creating the Mechanical Insulation Education and Awareness
E-Learning Series to educate users about the benefits, proper design,
installation, and maintenance of mechanical insulation (available at
Givers also helped create the Mechanical Insulation Design Guide (MIDG), a
comprehensive source of information on the performance, use, testing, and
standardization of mechanical insulation in building and industrial facilities
(; and it was givers who created the
Foundation for Education, Training, and Industry Advancement (the Foundation). 

Givers of the Midwest Insulation Contractors Association, one
of the regional associations in the United States, created the National
Commercial and Industrial Standards Manual, and regularly meet to ensure the
data in the manual is current. Givers in the Western Insulation Contractors
Association promoted and created the Foreman Training Program. The givers of
the various regional associations (CSIA, ESICA, MICA, SEICA, SWICA, and WICA)
serve on the Boards of Directors of NIA and promote mechanical insulation at
the local and national levels.

Givers Deserve
Our Support

is the givers who are prepared to risk making wrong decisions rather than
standing on the sidelines in the relative safety of making no decisions at all.
In the end, the givers are pulling the wagon, and takers are riding for free.
Are you buying your mechanical insulation services from a giver or a taker?
Does your mechanical insulation service supplier genuinely want to help you?
Ask your provider: Are you a giver or a taker? If the service provider is not a
member of a local, regional, or national insulation association, the chances
are good you’re dealing with a taker, not a giver. After reading about all the
concrete ways the givers help our industry and businesses, I hope you agree
that they are the people and companies you should use to get the mechanical
insulation services you need. They are involved, they are making a difference,
and they are promoting our industry today and for future generations. We need
more givers! We need to reward the givers we know, and we need to promote an
atmosphere of giving for the future.

The next time you buy mechanical insulation services, buy
from givers and let them know you appreciate their efforts. 



1 For more information on the benefits
of NIA membership, see

2 For a full recap of this bill,
go to