I Chose to Get Involved

By Eric D. Lussier, CSI, CDT posted 01-31-2019 10:12


I vividly recall being introduced to CSI. John Scott Dorfield, then of Astorino, introduced me to those magic acronyms during a random sales calls back in 2008.

I also recall my first CSI meeting. I'll blame that one on my "CSI Sponsor", as I jokingly call him, Martin "Marty" Thornton II, CCS, CSI, who invited me to attend an upcoming Chapter Meeting in Pittsburgh. I went. I sat through the board meeting. I laughed. I had a few beers and met some amazing people.

I decided to join on February 12, 2009. I made Allentown (now Greater Lehigh Valley) my home Chapter. I remember coincidentally sitting next to then Chapter President, Brad Teeters at that first meeting. I remember being slightly in awe of how a fellow product rep like myself was the President of a Chapter.

I ended up going after my CDT as soon as I could. First by taking some classes in Vermont while home visiting and then continued them remotely. I barely failed on that first attempt. But I persisted. I then took another round of CDT study with Mitch Miller, AIA, FCSI, CCSand I passed. 

I further got involved with CSI however I could. I became a Director and took over electronic communications for Allentown. Philadelphia hosted CONSTRUCT in 2010 and since I lived locally, I attended the expo hall and got to meet the "woman behind the badge", Joy Davis. Meeting all of those wonderful CSI members in Philly made me want to get more involved.

I dappled with the Central Pennsylvania Chapter and joined as a member there. I remember seeing Marvin Kemp speak on mentorship. I delivered a program to the North Central Pennsylvania Chapter. I toured the Penguins Arena with Pittsburgh before it opened. I visited the CSI Philadelphia Chapter in Center City. I stayed involved. 

Allentown helped send me to my first CONSTRUCT in 2011 in Chicago. The education was incredible. Chicago was amazing. And the people that I now called my friends in my home Chapter of Allentown were second to none. I rode home from Chicago with our then Chapter President, Dave Wrigley. 11 hours in a mini-van with anyone is a friendship accelerator and this trip was no exception. I won the President's Award in June 2011 from Dave and I'll never forget the shock I had when I realized he was addressing me before the accommodation was presented. I continued to stay involved. 

Late in October 2011, I moved back to Vermont. A state that had one CSI Chapter, and not six like Pennsylvania, but I knew immediately I had to get involved. So, I did. There I got to meet and know Cam Featherstonhaugh, Brian Leet and re-meet Rebecca Campbell, as she had led my first CDT study course.

CONSTRUCT made its way out to Phoenix in 2012 and there I met a person who would change my life, and all for the better, in Cherise Lakeside. Her continued friendship has pushed me professionally and personally for over six years now and I have CSI entirely to blame.

I got a chance to revisit CONSTRUCT in Nashville in 2013, Baltimore in 2014, St. Louis in 2015, Austin in 2016, Providence in 2017 and Long Beach, CA in 2018. 

Not only have I attended CONSTRUCT since 2011, but I became a formal blogger for CONSTRUCT as an active CSI member. I had the chance to moderate a bloggers panel as an active CSI blogger at CONSTRUCT. In December 2016, I got a chance to join the Education Advisory Council and help pick and plan the programming for the conference.

For 2017 in Providence, Cherise and I had a hairbrained idea to pitch two presentations - one on the specifier/product rep relationship and also a workshop after we had founded an AEC-focused industry blog called "Let's Fix Construction". They were both accepted! We then had to practice, so I visited Portland to pitch the workshop to Carleton Hart Architects and CSI Portland. We then drove to Eugene and spoke to Willamette Valley CSI. Before we knew it, Providence had arrived and we were presenting a 90 minute session at CONSTRUCT in 50 minutes for 140 people. And we survived. We continued to stay involved.

I got to visit the Greater Lehigh Valley CSI Chapter in October of 2017 and then the DC Metro Chapter. I got to visit the Atlanta CSI Chapter in December. I made my way down to Las Vegas, Biloxi, MS, Frisco, TX, Las Vegas (again!), Edmonton, New York City, Montgomery, OH and Indianapolis, IN. I then got to visit the home of CONSTRUCT 2019 (10/9 - 10/11/19), the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, in National Harbor, MD to help plan another great CONSTRUCT conference. ALL because I got involved in CSI.

And today? January 30, 2019? Today I renewed my CSI membership. For my TENTH YEAR. Can I afford it? I can't afford NOT to renew. $275 to the Institute. $50 to my local Chapter. Oh, did I mention I'm the current President of CSI Vermont? And I'm in my second term? All because I joined and more so, because I got involved.

I encourage you to do the same.

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