By Larry Taylor, G.E./Taylor Group
CalGeo President 2015-2016
As I step into the role of President of CalGeo at the start of its 45th year, I find myself considering the past to see how it might help me to focus on what's ahead. A lot has changed since the time this Association was founded 44 years ago as the Soil and Foundation Engineers Association (SAFEA). Consider how things like technological changes, advances in geotechnical science/engineering, regulatory requirements, employer/employee relationships, and other factors have changed the way geotechnical consulting firms do business now as compared to then. Some big changes.
A lot has not changed. Soil and rock are still soil and rock and the fundamental way in which we work with our clients to help them deal with the geotechnical aspects of their projects has not really changed all that much – we just have a bigger and more sophisticated toolbox than we did in the past. And many of the most challenging issues that prompted our founding Member firms to band together have not gone away. In fact, many of the long-standing non-technical issues which profoundly affect our businesses have simply become more complex - like complying with prevailing wage and apprenticeship requirements or managing the tight wire act of practicing an imperfect science with imperfect people in an ever-more litigious society while at the same time being asked to indemnify our clients.
The persistent issues that were a unifying force 44 years ago remain at the core of why CalGeo exists. These are difficult issues that will probably never go away, but mitigating their impacts on our profession requires that CalGeo must continue to grow. The equation is simple:
Larger Association = Louder voice = Ability to affect change where it is needed. (Equation 1)
With this in mind, my primary goal for the next year is to increase the number of Member firms and affiliate Members of CalGeo by 25% or more. We currently have about 100 Member firms and affiliates. There are hundreds of geotechnical firms in California which can and should be Members of CalGeo and are not…many are not even aware that our Association exists. Over the past several years CalGeo has developed some very good tools (like our website and the e-Geo) and information packets aimed, in part, at increasing membership. We need to increase our efforts to put those materials in the hands of prospective Members. So my call and my challenge to all Members is to make this happen. More on this soon in a separate article.
I want to highlight some of the ongoing important and challenging initiatives being pursued by CalGeo committees. These include:
These are examples of the work CalGeo does to benefit our organization and our profession. Just in case you missed the subtle message, we are seeking help from all Members to make these efforts successful. Another simple equation:
More brains = More and better ideas = Better outcome (Equation 2)
For a full list of CalGeo committees and contacts, please visit our website: http://www.calgeo.org/programs/ and click on "get involved". If you are not quite ready to get involved in a committee, we want all Members to encourage involvement by their staff in attending our regional meetings and annual conference. Our annual conferences have been trending towards more technical content in addition to business and legislative topics. The individual presentations and panel discussion at the 2015 Annual Conference in Carmel that featured Professors Bray, Boulanger, DeJong and Robertson on liquefaction topics is a good example. The upcoming 2016 Annual Conference at the Langham Hotel in Pasadena has great potential to be the largest and perhaps the best annual conference in CalGeo's history. You should come.
In closing, this is my message to all of our Members... Thank you for being a Member... I ask that you make a commitment to increase your direct involvement in CalGeo... see Equations 1 and 2.