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Hello all interested TIJ Members; this is Kurt Mitenbuler reporting live from Inspection World in Albuquerque, NM.

I arrived Wednesday to a beautiful day in NM. It's true; the light here is special. No wonder it is a magnet for artists. The flight in was kind of cool; there were about 50 HI's on the plane from all over the US. It was great to see so many people on the same plane all heading to the same place.

Wednesday afternoon & evening was spent checking in, registering for IW, & hanging out w/ the brothers & sisters in the business. There are three hotels that triangulate around the convention center, & it seems that all of them are full of HI's. Some of the folks went out to some petroglyphs in the desert; I & Garet Denise are heading out there tomorrow to check it out. I will take some pictures to post tomorrow night. Garet & I also attended a ccasual session w/ a local builder of straw bale houses on Wednesday afternoon. While interesting, I have to say it isn't anything I would pursue.

Wednesday evening found a crew of HI's, locals, & various hangers on that no one knew getting goofy @ the Hyatt. Good food, good drinks, & good laughs. Several tables of great folk were having a gas. Things eventually devolved into a totally hilarious discussion of Feng Shui & home inspection. I could go into details, but Mike would have to censor me. In short, it was a contest of wits to describe humorous "non-Feng Shui" homes we have all seen, w/ the winners being (basically)) being those w/ the most disgusting imagination. I think I may have been in a tie for first place (or last, depending on perspective) w/ Pete Engle & Larry Cerro.

Thursday morning dawned, & one thing was very apparent; the premature predictions of Inspection World being poorly attended due to disgruntlement w/ Branding were clearly mistaken. The place was packed. I mean PACKED.

I attended a full morning session on Commercial inspections by Andrew Kleeman out of Phildelphia. It was a very interesting approach to the topic; instead of focusing on the technical aspects of inspection, he describe the manners with which one might break into the business, how to identify market niches, how to directly market to prospective customers without realtor interference, & how to sstructure reports. He is the sort of speaker that makes one feel inadequate, as he was just plain brilliant.

Pete Drenans presentation on new home inspections was overflowing; there were literally people standing in the aisles. Since I didn't sit in on the presentation, I won't comment, but everyone I talked to said it was packed w/ useful information.

Lunch time found us all over the place, & then it was on to the business meeting w/ Officers & Directors taking the oath and all that sort of stuff. Boring, but necessary. Then the keynote speaker, Tom Connellan, came & made some very salient points regarding customer service & creating exceptional customer experiences. The guy is brilliant, & provided many useful methods for making sure the customer is provided the utmost in service & how to poll or monitor the customer for feedback that might improve the interaction. It is too involved to get into here, but well worth the price of admission.

The afternoon sessions were equally excellent, & every class room was packed. I bounced around between Mark Cramers class on Effective Report Writing, additional discussion w/ Tom Connellan, & a great session on Historic Home inspection by Stephen Showalter.

The exhibit hall opened up @ 5pm & everyone piled in for New Mexico barbecue (excellent!), drinks, & to review all the displays by the vendors. One thing that caught my eye; last year there were about 14 labs all pushing mold testing and this year there were about 4 and no one was paying any attention. The general consensus is that mold is "going away", & will likely not be the substantial issue that we all thought it was going to become. Thank God.

There are way too many report writing software systems on display; it would appear there are too many systems chasing too few inspectors.

The event hall reminded me of the main reason I like ASHI; the camaraderie of the members. I don't know what those folks are thinking that talk about the arrogance of ASHI; the only thing I found was great people ready to talk and have fun.

When the event hall closed up, a large crowd moved over to La Posada, where the Arizona Chapter had rented a big room, had free eats, drinks, & live music provided by Cerro, Jim Hemsell, some guy named Dave on guitar, & me on drums. People were dancing, hanging around, getting drunk, laughing, & generally having a great time. That venue closed up around midnight, & everyone drifted off into the evening.

It's late, tomorrows another day of classes, & Garet & I have to check out some petroglyphs in the desert. I'm gonna check out, and check back in tomorrow night. This was all whacked out in one blow, so feel free to edit me Mike.

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Kurt,

This is one post from which no-one will gain any usefull knowledge but I couldn't resist pulling your chain. In your Inspection World update you said "It was great to see so many people on the same plane all heading to the same place". I too have experienced this phenomena. The first time was a chartered flight.The next several hundred times I experienced it was on every flight I took. Odd as it might seem everyone on the plane was headed for the same place THE AIRPORT AT THE SCHEDULED DESTINATION.

Too much time on my hands I guess.

NORM SAGE

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[:-bonc01]icon_speech_yeah.gif

Norm, there was useful information in it; it made me laugh. I'm just a cub reporter, so you'll have to forgive me. What I meant is that everyone was heading to IW, not just flying in a plane to the destination.

Also, the "report" came @ the end of a 18 hour day, approx. 4 scotch & waters, and a late night jam session w/ a bunch of crazed HI's.

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Coming to you live from Albuquerque, NM, home of INspection World 2004. This report is being filed late since my high speed connection in the room screwed up somehow & I am forced to stand in line and wait for an open computer @ InspectionNews booth; it will have to be shortened as I have people standing in line behind me.

George; same gadgets, different arrangements. Nothing new to speak of, other than my never ending fascination w/ the incredible number of cool things there are to play with. The 20% off convention discount is tugging @ my tool belt; will I be able to withstand the incredible desire for more useless fancy tools? Probably not. This may be the year for the Boroscope and a new SureTest.

Speaking of which, I attended the class by Michael Leavitt out of Utah regarding "Three Prong Outlet Testers are Big Fat Liars". 1 1/2 hours class condensed into 5 words or less is "get a freaking SureTest!". He set up a number of very believable scenarios whereby the SureTest discovered major wiring defects whereas a standard 3 prong outlet tester did not. I volunteered as a guinea pig out of the audience, & was made to look pretty foolish (all good natured) by my lack of expertise in electrical outlet testing. I was humbled, to say the least. I've had about 100 folks come up to me since the class to laugh & tell me what a good sport I was for volunteering.

Also in the news; the husband of a realtor in Phoenix AZ was killed last month by a false ground outlet mishap. Need I say more about acquiring a SureTest?

Branding is, of course, flavoring all the little pepper discussion groups that form around the convention hall. General feelings by the assembled mass is (this is my personal intuitive take) people are disgruntled, but not alientated to a degree that will make them walk. The presentation yesterday was much more intelligent; no loud noises, light flashes, or other monkey like silliness intended to get our attention. It was a very well structured presentation of the concept w/ a Town Hall Q&A session w/ no holds barred. Questions were asked, answers were provided. What we got to see of the print & radio ads was mildly impressive; the art direction is attractive, the ads are engaging, & overall, I have no problems. w/it.

Here's a little kicker that will make everyone grind their teeth; we are required to sign an indemnifation contact w/ ASHI if we are to be involved w/ branding. Since being involved is not an option, we have to sign a contract. Everyone was grumbling and pissed yesterday, but after much review over multiple drinks last night, everyone is (more or less) satisfied w/ the intent of the contract and people are signing up. I think what graveled everyone the most was the mere fact that we (members) are required to sign a contract w/ "our" professional organization. There is that not so subtle implication that we don't "own" our own organization. There is much, much, more to write regarding branding, but I neither have the time nor inclination to get into right now. Plus, there are those people standin line behind me......

Why don't I get really pissed off? Because I like being an ASHI member. The camaraderie at this years convention is simply awesome. I've met a ton of people, had dozens of little discussion groups w/ people from all over the country, and enjoyed the vibe. We closed down the bar @ the Hyatt last night; I could tell you all more, but then I'd have to kill you.

This morning I & Garet Denise played hooky for one session and headed out to Petroglyph National Monument. We hiked up a trail @ daybreak and viewed literally hundreds of 'glyphs carved into the rocks sometime around 1000 BC through 1200 AD. I would post pictures, but as I said, this ain't my computer & I can't access the camera media. I'll post them when I come back. The trip to the park puts all this branding crap in perspective; reviewing the works of ancient people communicating w/art on giant basaltic boulders tends to negate the ill feelings brought on by day to day silliness.

The class on inspecting fireplaces & woodburning appliances was, as usual, an eye opening experience. The guy putting on the conference was/is Bob Priesing out of North Carolina. He is an ex Marine career man who now operates Havelock Chimney Sweep out of Beaufort NC. He's highly intelligent, hands on, & attacks the subject w/ the sort of dedication one would expect from a Marine. He has a library of slides that was simply awesome, & like all the classes I've taken so far, well worth the trip to Albuquerque. Mike, you should hook up w/ this guy as I've never met anyone, including Dale Feb, who was able to take this subject & literally set it on fire (couldn't avoid the pun; sorry).

John Ghents class on pricing was both educational & mildly depressing; it essentially outlined the details of why we are all not charging enough. I could go into further detail, but I will summarize; RAISE YOUR PRICES! If you are single operator, and charging under $400 per inspection, you are losing money. Don't ask for details; trust me.

Okay, the group is getting grumpy behind me; several people have come & gone on the adjacent machines, & I seem to be typing a novel. I'm gonna show a little respect to the assembled masses & clear the heck out of here & go learn something.

Here's some interesting news that I'm researching; it just came in. USInspect has lodged a formal complaint w/ the FTC in 22 states alleging restraint of trade against ASHI for this whole Branding thingiemabob. While the details are still being researched, it is apparently fact that USInspect is royally pissed off & doing something about it. Where it all goes is unknown, but a shot has been put across ASHI's bow. Hmmmmm..........interesting.

Mike, as usual, this was clacked out in one blow without proofreading, so feel free to edit.

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Originally posted by Brian G.

Kurt, as our field reporter can you confirm or refute the persistant rumors about Morrison's love of good beer? [:-drunk] [:D]

Brian G.

Never Touch the Stuff Myself [:-angel]

There is the distinct impression that the man enjoys the interrelationship of hops, barley, malt, yeast, & water. I plan on performing additional research w/ the gentleman this evening @ the "gala".

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Originally posted by kurt, regarding Morrison's reputed love of good beer

There is the distinct impression that the man enjoys the interrelationship of hops, barley, malt, yeast, & water. I plan on performing additional research w/ the gentleman this evening @ the "gala".

Going deep undercover to get the facts! Kurt, we all admire your daring, selflessness, and relentless professionalism in pursuit of the truth! What a guy! [^]

Brian G.

Waiting With Baited Breath [:o]

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Norm -

I think the Restraint of Trade Thing against ASHI is true. Apparently ASHI's Executive Director sent a memo or email to their BOD last week telling them that at least 1 state had stepped forward with it. I think they said it was Michigan but I could be wrong on the exact state. Out here in the sticks we've been hearing that the complaints or whatever was coming for about the last 2 months from other HI Groups and Franchisees (not U.S. Inspect).

We also heard about 2-3 weeks ago from one of the NACHI Inspectors locally that one of ASHI's National Officers (a U.S. Inspect Inspector)was going to resign from ASHI over this or ???

Some of the ASHI old timers have called or emailed from Abuquerqe (probably spelled wrong), and indicated a lot of the Newer Inspectors were really gungho over the Branding, but a lot of Veteran HI's will quit ASHI since the ASHI Experience and Pledge of Allegiance are being made mandatory, and many of the Vets are not signing up.

If thats true it would still be good for ASHI's Membership Volume (thats real important today). Get more NEWBIES (higher membership/more dues), get rid of seasoned guys that won't play politics

Dan Bowers

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Dan,

The big problem with your theory is that ASHI is becoming too expensive. Many newbie inspectors just don't have the cash to join for $1000 (the approximate cost for local and national dues in my area). Most people will rely on the state license before they will accept a private organization to assure that their inspector is qualified. Competing and less expensive organizations that offer the same benefits as ASHI will be much more appealing to many inspectors.

ASHI is shooting itself in the foot with this Branding nonsense.

The next month or two is going to very interesting. I know many NJ ASHI members that are not going to pay the $250.

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Hi George,

With respect to you and all fairness to Kurt, he has repeatedly enumerated his various reasons here and on the ASHI forum for why he has changed his opinion of branding, why he is willing to pay the extra dues asked for by ASHI and why he is remaining with ASHI. His reasons, which are his own and really none of our business, are much more than simply having a place to go and jam, and apparently he feels that he is adequately represented. He didn't have to share his feelings but he has, so why not leave it alone?

Sure, misery loves company, but you and I chose to leave ASHI, that was our own decision and nobody has come on here to berate us for making it. I can see nothing useful coming out of questioning Kurt's motives for making a personal business decision that only he could make. Branding is here. Like it or not, you and I have to live with it and learn to keep our businesses successful in spite of it. Being bitter won't help.

Which organization hosts the training isn't really that important. They all have their pluses and minuses. IW is a good show. So aren't the ITA and NAHI conventions and I can personally vouch for the AII convention which I attended as a vendor's rep.

Like I said, leaving ASHI was my choice and my decision, because I did not agree with their direction. Be that as it may, I'm not now going to go out of my way to be critical of everything ASHI. We in this business need to learn to work together despite our differences, if we ever expect to be taken seriously as a profession and not simply a trade. That's the whole premise behind why I began TIJ. Let's concentrate on that. The rest will fall into place on its own.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Mike,

You're the first ex-cop I know who has mastered the art of political correctness. Your post was right on. We all have our own reasons for belonging to organizations. We don't need to justify our reasons and our motives don't need to be questioned. Co-existence in light of philosophical differences is the key.

NORM SAGE

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Er,..Thanks Norm....I think,

That's the first time anyone has ever said I was being politically correct.

I just think that there are more important battles for us to fight. We have the mold cowboys running around helping our E & O rates to go through the roof, we have the insurance companies blaming all of us for the mistakes of a few, we have pissed-off people who understand nothing of what we do trying to ram legislation down our throats everywhere, we have realtors still insisting on leading us around by the nose, we have inspectors who are afraid to tell it like it is for fear of losing referrals, we have a public that is ready to sue us at the drop of a hat, we have broad inconsistencies across this country in how we inspect - even within the same organizations, etc., etc..

To top it off, it's estimated that there are fewer than 30,000 of us in this business across the US and Canada. If that is true, we have very little clout to fight any of these external pressures, let alone quarreling among ourselves over petty bullshit like which organization one belongs, or doesn't belong to, or whether one organization's vision is better than another's.

That's all I'm trying to say....I guess.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Originally posted by DLRambo

...the ASHI Experience and Pledge of Allegiance are being made mandatory, and many of the Vets are not signing up.

Dan, what is that "Pledge" about? Allegiance to who / what, exactly? Have you seen it?

Man, if the veteran core is gutted by this, ASHI will be a hull of its' former self. [:-nonono]

Brian G.

Never Said More Than One Pledge in My Life

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Originally posted by a46geo

Mike,

I have deleted the post.

It was not at all meant to berate Kurt in the slightest. I never imagined it to be taken that way either.

Now the organization in question? Well, that is a different storey.

Man,

I'm sorry George, I sure didn't want you to delete your post. I was just trying to say that there are more important concerns. I told myself not to say anything - that if I did it might get taken the wrong way. I need to start listening to myself more.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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I'm back in Chicago w/the Eagles/Panthers in the background; whew, I'm not much of a traveler. I don't know how anyone could fly around for work everyday; it burns me out.

I had a great dinner w/Chris Prickett after the conference classes were over; we hung out, had a great dinner, & talked shop for a couple hours. If all y'all haven't already figured it out, Chris is about as good a guy as you're likely to find, & the success he is finding in Phoenix is well deserved.

So, IW 2004 is history. Yesterday was closed out w/ one whale of a good time @ the Hyatt Ballroom. Live music, excellent food, & literally EVERYONE was dancing. It was a gas. Can't say enough about it.

And then, there is branding. Hmmmm.......

It is a grave mistake for anyone to make broad assumptions about Branding, ASHI, or membership. If anything is clear from 4 days of branding talk, it is that the membership is quite divided on the concept, process, and potential outcome. That is true from the officers, Directors, right on down through membership. I talked to at least 2 Directors that flat out thought it is a poor idea; since it is a democracy, a couple of dissenters doesn't move the ball. Oh well.... If you talk to membership, opinions are all over the map. Opinions are so divergent, it is pointless to even begin to try to describe them all.

Personally, I'm into the game for my $250 since it is an inexpensive hand to play, & I've been an ASHI member long enough that, quite simply, I feel a loyalty to the organization for all the good it has brought me. The "ethical" arguments for and against branding are of very little concern to me. I've never been in the inspection business for reasons other than I enjoy inspecting, I enjoy doing a good job for my customers, & it pays money. No religion from my corner. If branding manages to actually work, I plan on being there. If it does not, it is not going to cause me any pain either. There is, of course, the "spoiler" of potential lawsuits, complaints w/ the FTC, & related possiblities of silliness that no one imagined @ the outset of this whole endeavor. Should that happen, & it appears that it is happening on at least a couple levels, I will be watching w/ bemused interest.

One thing for sure; the new website is a very well designed & implemented hub for driving work to ASHI inspectors. If nothing else, we got a well engineered, albeit expensive, website that will benefit each individual member quite nicely.

A final thought about the convention.....

IW reinforced what I have always felt about ASHI; the good outweighs the bad by a wide margin, & while there are those that attempt to paint the organization w/ a broad brush, I can only feel good about being involved w/ a great bunch of people. For those that feel that the membership is "arrogant", or some such hogwash, well, I can only say that the 300-400 people on the dance floor last night, and the 400-500 standing around the perimeter clapping, tended to dispel the myth of arrogance. It was a darn good time and a fantastic education; I strongly recommend it for anyone wishing to broaden their perspective of the home inspection profession.

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Several inspectors that were at IW, have called or emailed some of us here and mentioned this PLEDGE Form(whatever that is)had various things we had to agree to and sign that we'd abide by.

They've indicated it had some stuff on it like ASHI Members will get "Comment Cards" and they will be given out to somebody (buyers, realtors or ??), which will then be filled out and sent back to ASHI for whatever reasons(to see how we performed, etc). I would not give lists of my customer base to ASHI or anybody else - if we did how would that make ASHI any different than the BRINKS ALARM Program that National was up in arms about a few months ago.

Another unfavorable comment I saw the guys mention on the PLEDGE, was that we agreed to abide by the rules of the ASHI Experience as it is now and any future changes they made to it.

I think thats called a Unilateral Contract or something like that - it sounded wierd to me!! One of the guys said that it just felt wrong - like someone else running our business for us, without our input. My Way or THe Highway.

Dan Bowers

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Originally posted by DLRambo

Several inspectors that were at IW, have called or emailed some of us here and mentioned this PLEDGE Form(whatever that is)had various things we had to agree to and sign that we'd abide by.

They've indicated it had some stuff on it like ASHI Members will get "Comment Cards" and they will be given out to somebody (buyers, realtors or ??), which will then be filled out and sent back to ASHI for whatever reasons(to see how we performed, etc). I would not give lists of my customer base to ASHI or anybody else - if we did how would that make ASHI any different than the BRINKS ALARM Program that National was up in arms about a few months ago.

Another unfavorable comment I saw the guys mention on the PLEDGE, was that we agreed to abide by the rules of the ASHI Experience as it is now and any future changes they made to it.

I think thats called a Unilateral Contract or something like that - it sounded wierd to me!! One of the guys said that it just felt wrong - like someone else running our business for us, without our input. My Way or THe Highway.

Dan Bowers

It is called a unilateral contract, & unenforceable on multiple levels. Yes, it is weird, but no more weird than the extremely intense contract I ask my clients to sign everyday. I'm not arguing for or against it; it's a contract, and therefore odious. In my perfect imaginary world, all things are agreed upon w/eye contact & a firm warm handshake. My perfect imaginary world is, of course, imperfect & non-existent.

Many of us marked our contracts up w/ changes, deletions, initials, dates, & all manner of alterations; no one made a fuss or even appeared to care.

The comment card thing is for the hicks; I'm certainly not sending in anything, & whether or not one wishes to play this simplistic game w/ ASHI is up to them. ASHI can't force this one and they know it.

The overriding concern of leadership w/ASHI is educating members to the importance of service; technical competence & a good report are still only 2 components of the equateion. It is still necessary to provide service, & the comment card thingie is a method for gauging performance of those members not acquainted w/ the concept. Yes, it is aimed @ the newbies & characters that don't get good business practice. It is one of the elements of branding that I find mildly embarassing in its elementary/beginner focus.

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