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Association Board Adds New Leader

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Beginning a new, three-year term on the CFA Board of Directors is Chris Ward, Vice President for the Americas with Western Forms of Kansas City, Missouri.

Each year during the Annual Meeting for the Concrete Foundations Association, held in conjunction with the summer’s big event, transition takes place as Board members end their time in leadership and new members step forward to take up the reins.  This year, one Board seat saw such a transition as the Board and CFA members saluted and gave appreciation for the service of Tom Oury from Schwing America.  Tom was elected to service by the National Associate members who manage three seats on the Board of Directors.  Beginning a new, three-year term as elected by the same body of members is Chris Ward, Vice President for the Americas with Western Forms of Kansas City, Missouri.  I had a great chance to sit down with Chris during the event and pick his brain about the CFA and this industry, to help introduce the newest leader to each of you but also to help me get to know another side of this industry.

The Ward Family of Western Forms, Inc.

Lindsey:  Chris, I understand from our staff that the Ward name has a lot of history in leadership with the Concrete Foundations Association. What is your earliest memory of the Association?

Chris:  Well, yes, certainly Western Forms and my dad, Ron Ward has a lot of history with the CFA.  Personally, I don’t have many memories of early days going to CFA as a family or as kids.  My first memory was in Breckenridge and I was like 18yrs old.  Without giving a lot of detail that is best left in Breckenridge, I was invited out with Greg Peacock, a former contractor member, Board member and an inventor that brought about the BEP Forming line; and a bunch of other folks.  There were bars in downtown Breckenridge and Peacock was, well…I’ll tell you the rest off-record.

 

Chris Ward and his kids celebrating the KC Royals. L-R: Ben (1.5), Chris, Annie (9), Wyatt (5) and Jake (7).

Lindsey:  To funny, that is certainly good to know.  Legacy is something well respected in both this industry and in the Association, whether you are talking with a CFA member or many of the companies throughout North America that are likely reading this interview.  What does the word legacy mean to you when you think of Western Forms and the CFA combined?

Chris:  When I think of legacy and what that means for Western Form Inc. and the CFA, I think about the early days when parts of the country were converting from block foundations to cast-in-place walls.  I think of my grandfather and Ron Ward, my father, who helped play a role in this shift and in developing different markets.  The CFA was a good chance for this group to get together and collaborate with one another on best practices.

 

Lindsey:  I can see those best practices being shared still today in the events we host and can just imagine how important they were when an industry was getting started.  So now you get to be part of the mechanics that make these events and this type of network happen.  What is your biggest interest in serving as a CFA Board member?

Chris:  The biggest interest I have in serving as a Board member is to play a role in working closer with some of the members to further grow and improve the cast-in-place industry heading into the future.  It is not so much converting block markets anymore but it is trying to determine upcoming opportunities and best practice to continue to advance the industry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lindsey:  So a combination of innovation and evolution of best practice and technology.  I certainly see that at play.  What statement would you make to contractors around the country about the CFA now that you have the voice of a Board member?

Chris:  I would say “find a way for more collaboration”…sharing of best practices and new initiatives for now and the future is the key to growth.  This is not only for the Association but for all of our individual business, some of which have a lot of history and may not easily see the opportunity.

 

Lindsey:  It is electric when you see members connecting in this way at our summer event or during the Winter Meeting in Vegas.  So tell me, what is a little known fact about Chris Ward that you can share?  How can we get to know you as a personality on the Board?

Chris:  I had the opportunity/curse to be the “oil dog” for two summers back in the day working on a wall crew here in Kansas City back in the 1993-95 time frame.  I had to go on the D.L. for two to three weeks when I fell off a 9-ft wall, landing on a footing with my kneecap.  Fun times.  If you want some “stats” on me, I’d have to offer that I have been married for 12 yrs. to my beautiful wife Katie.  We have four kids Annie (9), Jake (7), Wyatt (5), Ben(1.5).  I have been working with Western Forms for 16+ yrs. where I have had roles including work in the warehouse, customer service, sales, and currently in the role of V.P. of Americas.  I enjoy spending time with my kids and their various activities; enjoy playing basketball, golf, and of course cheering on my World Champion Kansas City Royals.

 

Lindsey:  Well, I see you and our Executive Director, James Baty share that passion for the Royals and family, as well I’m sure our other members in the Kansas City area.  What names come to your mind when you think of those that have impacted this business, this Association?

Chris:  The first name that comes to my mind is Bill Esker & the Esker.  Bill was instrumental within the organization early on, assisting with growth as new contractors were reached.  Also, he was a proponent for evolving the business, being the first or one of the first to utilize boom trucks and that technology.  Now, it is the standard for most, yet was a huge leap forward in the industry.

 

Lindsey:  That’s super.  I know Josh serves on the Board today so there is more support for our discussion of legacy.  I’d like to wrap up with you and ask your opinion of what you see as the single largest risk and single biggest opportunity to the cast-in-place concrete industry?

Chris:  Labor is the biggest threat to the cast-in-place market.  It is going to continue to get worse for the entire construction industry.  I see this as a problem, but it is also a huge opportunity for those companies that look at doing things differently and understanding that the way things have always will be done…will not cut it moving forward.

Lindsey:  Chris, thanks for taking this time with us and sharing some intimate details as well as some insight that you bring in to your new role as a leader of this industry on the Board of Directors for the CFA.  Welcome to this effort and best wishes for the time you will spend on behalf of all these readers, members and non-members alike, over the next three years.

 

Chris Ward becomes the fifth direct elected director to the CFA Board following a transition of the National Associates council and Association by-laws in 2010.  He joins Lindsay Castles of GMX, Inc. and Mark Irving of Irving Equipment, LLC. serving the interests of the many products, technologies and equipment that are found in membership.  Contractor and professional members to the Board of Directors are elected at large each Spring based on the number of seats that become available.  To find out more about participating at the Board level, contact CFA Executive Director, James Baty at jbaty@cfawalls.org.

Want to know more about Western Forms, Inc.?  Visit their website at www.westernforms.com or contact Chris Ward directly at cward@westernforms.com.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lindsey Bloomquist, Manager for Communication and networking for the Concrete Foundations Association (CFA), works to communicate the available tools and benefits of a CFA membership to the industry, and provide networking opportunities that build professional relationships between contractors and industry leading suppliers and manufacturers. Bloomquist also works closely with industry suppliers and manufacturers to increase exposure within the CFA through advertising, sponsorships, exhibits and networking. Reach Lindsey at lbloomquist@cfawalls.org.

“The professional relationships that are established are vital to the success of this association and its member companies. Not only do these interactions foster healthy competition that fuels innovation, but they create lasting partnerships that are beneficial to both the contractors and suppliers.”

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Concrete FACTS, a publication of the Concrete Foundations Association, is THE voice for residential concrete industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the cast-in-place concrete industry. Subscriptions to Concrete FACTS is available to anyone involved or interested in the residential concrete industry as a service to your industry. Please contact CFA Headquarters to find out more about your free subscription or Email Us