A few years ago, a small core group of NOMMA members started a local chapter in the northeast. Trying to come up with a title that covered New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts was not an easy task. But the Northeast Chapter became our moniker.
The Northeast Chapter helped to create the By-Laws for conducting business as a chapter since our national affiliation’s By-Laws for its local chapters needed to updated. With National help, the Northeast Chapter became incorporated. The frills came next with the establishment of a mailing address, logo and letterhead. Volunteers were required to be nominated for the first Officers for the Chapter followed by the Chapter casting their voted approval.
Dedicated to the success of our members and industry is not only the slogan of NOMMA but also the Heart of the Northeast Chapter. From the beginning, the Northeast Chapter wanted to make an impact in our work environment. Our first major meeting in the formulation of the Chapter was held on a frigid day in upstate New York appropriately in an ancient icehouse converted into a forging metal shop. As the initial meeting of over 30 members progressed, we had a heated discussion on how to hammer out our ideas and meld them into a strong substantial platform. The current membership of close to fifty members still follows the original blueprints.
A major goal would be to attain the same stature for the NOMMA logo that an American Welding Society [AWS] logo or an Underwriters Laboratory [UL] listing bring to their certified members. By making our fellow NOMMA members better fabricators, name brand recognition could start coming our way. Someday the NOMMA logo appearing in a company Yellow Page ad would set them above the competition. The quest for success had begun.
In order to improve our work environment, education became our primary focus. By holding workshop meetings to share our knowledge with other NOMMA members we would be bringing the skill level of NOMMA members to a higher level than our non-member competition. Workshop meetings have been held on forming copper, forging steel and aluminum, water jet cutting, wet coatings and primers, finishing, working with bronze, new fabricating machinery, welding and grinding techniques, rolling and forming steel, anodizing, plating and many other interactive workshops. The sharing of many guarded secrets did have a price. Non-members could only attend one meeting without becoming a NOMMA member.
Education did n0t stop with our fellow fabricators. Almost every member has had experiences with owners, contractors and architects who just did not seem to understand our language, never mind reality checks. How many phone calls have been made to clear up just how high of a polish is required, or to what grit, or in which direction, or why aluminum can not be welded to steel? The Northeast Chapter decided to put all of our resources “ money, time, and knowledge “ on the line. The creation of a Metalworking Reference Manual would begin to educate the masses.
The pinnacle reference of metal finishing has always been the National Association of Architectural Metal Manufacturers [NAAMM]. The NAAMM finishing manuals have been the standard to the fabricators in the United States, but needed to be updated. As a Chapter, we contacted NAAMM asking for permission to use quotes, printed matter and photos or drawings contained in the various NAAMM Technical Publications. The understanding was that the material would be used as part of a Chapter educational binder containing references and accreditation back to NAAMM.
The Finishes section of the Manual is a well-documented compilation of various sources as well as the major contributions from NAAMM condensed into 52 pages of knowledge. Broken down into 3 main segments of Aluminum, Copper Alloys and Stainless Steel, anyone can find the detailed steps, reasons for the utilizations and designation specifications required for the various processes for finishing metals. By reading the section on Aluminum, an architect could specify a M30 circumference polish on pipe. An educated fabricator would know that this designation would mean a directional textured finish of a 180-grit [satin] finish with the grain going around the piece.
The Metalwork Reference Manual contains many NOMMA publications, such as the Guideline 1: Joint Finishes as well as Ideas in Ornamental Metal. The idea was to give an architect or fabricator a wealth of information and the correct knowledge to facilitate the construction of it. Space was left in the binder so that updates and additions could easily be added in the future. The endeavor took over two years of volunteered time away from personal business, the bulk of our monetary Chapter assets, as well as the donations from numerous NOMMA members.
Now that the book has been produced it is hoped that it can be a significant step in the rewriting of the NAAMM Manuals and as a reference source for NOMMA members and architects. The Manual will be turned over to the National Office for distribution and for future re-printings. The Manual is offered slightly above the printing cost to NOMMA members, architects [current AIA members] and to specification writers [current AIA or CSI members] on the Chapter’s website: http://www.nommne.8k.com.
While the book was being constructed, and with education still our primary objective, The Chapter decided to educate architects directly. Architects who are members of the American Institute of Architects [AIA] must continually educate themselves to remain members. Seminars that fulfill the requirement can only be conducted by Registered Providers of Continuing Education. Becoming a Registered Provider was the Chapter’s next step in bettering our work environment.
Architects must earn 36 Learning Units every two-year cycle to retain membership in AIA. Many states have made the 36 LU’s a mandatory requirement for architects to be licensed to practice in their state. Architects generally are licensed in at least 3 states.
A Learning Unit [LU] is determined by the Quality Level times the duration of a seminar. A Quality Level One seminar would simply be a lecture. Level Two would be an interactive lecture and a Level Three would be interactive with a testing procedure added with a 2hour minimum longevity. So a lecture combined with question and answer period [Level 2] that would last for one hour would be worth 2 LU’s [2 x 1 = 2]. If that same seminar lasted only a half hour than the seminar would be worth One LU [2 x ½ = 1].
Through committee work, we complied two comprehensive interactive seminars. One Seminar details standard metal finishing designations. Another seminar compares custom fabrication to working with normal stock fabrication in relation to time, creativity, materials and costs. The Chapter received acceptance as a Registered Provider with the AIA as a regional non-profit organization. The Chapter’s hour long Seminars are also listed on the AIA website with a Quality Level of 2. The listing is under NOMMA the Northeast Chapter.
Being a Registered Provider, created the need to find a venue where the Seminar could be conducted. The joint chapters of AIA in Northern New Jersey, the Architects League of Northern New Jersey and the Suburban Newark Chapter of Architects annually hold a table top Trade Show and Convention. The Chapter has conducted their Seminar at this event for the last two years. In addition, the Chapter put together a booth for the Show. Only Chapter nametags were allowed, and although no personal business was conducted; the name of our group along with our knowledge was displayed. Recognition of the NOMMA logo has started to grow.
The next goal was to make our Chapter more public. A website was established which can currently be found at http://www.nommane.8k.com. Here Chapter members can take personal pride in their efforts. Still with education as our Holy Grail, free downloadable charts taken from our Metalwork Reference Manual show the standard designations for metal finishing. A Gallery of Work shows the diversity of the Chapter members. Links to individual member websites or e-mail can be found through the Contact page as well as the complete listing of Northeast Chapter Members.
Members who cannot make meetings can catch up by accessing the News page. Seminars can be booked through the website and the Metalwork Reference Manual can also be ordered on the Downloads section. Links are provided to NAAMM, AIA, other Chapters of NOMMA, as well as to the NOMMA websites.
A project that is still warming in our forge is an educational expo that tentatively will be held at an Upstate New York University. Sharing our skills and education with fellow fabricators, architects, University students and building code officials in a seminar “ demonstration atmosphere is our next lofty goal. The university is eagerly supporting the expo with facilities ranging from auditorium space to dorm rooms for a two-day show. NOMMA national members who are Registered Providers with AIA are lining up for the seminar educational programs. Well-known blacksmiths are more than willing to make this a real Hammer-In. As a viable growing force in our region, our Chapter is taking the slow and steady approach to make this a reality. Although our original plans had the Expo date for the late summer of 2002, a more practical date of August of 2003 would be more realistic and allow more time for a better presentation.
The future that was forged in fires that burned bright that first day in the icehouse continues to invite more members to its warm glow. As new ideas are tempered into our foundation our Chapter strengthens. The sparks from our work are making some heads turn to see just what is being formed. The patterns and templates that we have created hopefully will inspire others to follow in our footsteps and to help hammer out our differences into a strong and admired success.