Kevin Folsom is director of physical plant at Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I joined APPA in 1994 with high hopes of learning and networking with peers from educational institutions all over the world. Charlie Jenkins was the APPA President at the time, and I was impressed with the message that he conveyed. In addition, the association promised training and useful publications.
As a new member, I began researching methods for making contact with other members. The Internet was a new method of communication for APPA, and I could not locate the information I was searching for there. I was especially seeking a local chapter. Since there was a large number of educational institutions located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, I thought surely there was one. My research proved futile.
The next four years consisted of attending APPA international educational conferences, CAPPA regional, and TAPPA state meetings. In addition, I was able to gain some of the richest knowledge and experience than I could have ever imagined from the APPA Institute for Facilities Management. I was impressed with the APPA organization and learned to appreciate my job/ministry at Dallas Theological Seminary more than ever.
During the last session of the Institute for Facilities Management, I stopped by to tell the APPA staff goodbye and thanked them for making the training possible. Andria Krug asked me what I was going to do next. I responded without a doubt, "I'm going to start a Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of APPA."
Even though I was able to make wonderful friendships, which I still maintain today, and gain outstanding knowledge and wisdom, I was still missing something. I wanted to be able to share information regarding contractors and suppliers that were being successfully used by other institutions in my area, and I wanted to share successes and failures in roofing, waterproofing, landscaping materials, and other issues in my particular climate.
A week after returning from the Institute, I composed an e-mail message to be sent out to all APPA members in the DFW area. Realizing how much information a facilities manager can be inundated with, I tried to be brief but include as much of my dream as I could. Unfortunately, I received only one response, and this was from a person stating that he was too busy. My next strategy was to continue attending APPA meetings to meet people specifically in my area and to help them understand the benefits of a local chapter.
A few months later, I was attending a Texas APPA meeting when a drawing was being held for prizes during the general session. They held up a small barbeque grill and called out my name. When I turned around after receiving my prize, there were four people sitting close to my table waiving and pointing at me. As I got closer, I could hear them saying, "Hey, we want to talk to you." I sat down, and they leaned over and said, "Aren't you the guy who wanted to start a DFWAPPA chapter?" I confirmed, and they said, "Great! Let's do it. We want in." We introduced ourselves and exchanged contact information. The group consisted of Art Sykes with Eastfield College, Tim Leitch with Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, John Russell with the University of Dallas, and Pat Howell who was with Texas Wesleyan University at the time. Pat is now with the University of Texas Health and Science Center in Fort Worth.
When I returned from the TAPPA meeting, I quickly composed another message about uniting to create an APPA chapter in our area and sent it to the four mentioned individuals. I volunteered my campus to be the first site for a meeting on May 27, 1999. Three were able to attend the first DFWAPPA meeting, including myself. I was excited!
Then we began establishing goals, a mission, and a website, which serves as a tool to share our information. On June 1, 2000, we initiated a Business Partner Program, and we now have 20 paid memberships. The business partners have agreed to financially support our organization so we can have the tools, meetings, and a website to share our information. In turn, the business partners are advertised on the website.
John Hughling at Northlake Community College hosted the last quarterly meeting on November 2, 2000. We had a total of 22 attendees. We currently have 16 educational institution members, 20 business partners, and have had over 5,000 views of the website since April 2000.
It is rewarding to see the growth of the organization. The members share the excitement and realize their contribution as they share information on a regular basis. The membership is too numerous to list, but the DFWAPPA developmental progress can be seen at the Meetings/Meeting Photos link on www.dfwappa.org.