December, 2007
From the ASHI President.
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

Jay Balin #264


In case you haven’t noticed, the people in ASHI mean a lot to me. From the day I attended my first ASHI conference to the last handshake at the last chapter meeting, you guys have been the primary reason I continue to pay my dues. The knowledge and experience I’ve gleaned are a byproduct of your willingness to share.

While I’m not a prolific writer (I do find these columns to be a real chore and I’d like to thank Walter Jowers for painstakingly correcting my very first one and my wife, Vicki, for the rest), I regret not having enough time to list all of the members who have made an indelible impression on me. Here’s a partial list of guys, each of whom deserves a 700-word article:

John Ghent #231 (“When you become President, learn how to just say NO”).

Kurt Salomon #102398
(with his dogged determination to set measurable goals).

JD Grewell #193
(his devotion to maintain ASHI’s Standards of Practice above all other standards).
Bill Sutton #224 (he poured the foundation of the CoR from scratch, with a willingness to listen and
implement others’ ideas).

Kurt Mitenbuler #6874
(a bulwark of independent thought and ideas).

Don Nelson #2370
(realized the importance of international cooperation in the home inspection industry and continues to build bridges to Great Britain).

Jamie Dunsing #11158
(who shares my enthusiasm that this should be a profitable, yet fun, business).

And Bill Loden #201542 (the guy who broke through a crowd outside the hotel after InspectionWorld ’06 and performed CPR on a fellow inspector).

These guys are a microcosm of what ASHI is. In a way, I’m sorry I started naming names because there’s no way I can include everyone I’ve learned something from and grown to respect.

I’d be at a loss, though, to find one man who’s made a bigger impression on me than this month’s title subject. From the weekly Dilbert cartoons he sends me to the philosophical discussions of Machiavelli, Jay Balin is the guy I can always count on to listen, debate, analyze and consult. He’s a true sounding board. The first time I met Jay, I didn’t know I was dealing with someone who
is the personification of what it is to be a mentor. It’s not uncommon for him to be abrasive, picky and opinionated. Sometimes he’s also recalcitrant, passionate and righteous. But one of his best attributes is his willingness to listen. Jay is also the first person I ever knew who would argue with a sign that he put up … mirror, mirror.

Like many first impressions, this one was negative. I was sitting in the front row of an educational conference when someone in the audience raised a question that seemed almost impertinent. The speaker was put on the spot with a query pointedly directed at an inconsistency in his presentation. In other words, he didn’t know what he was talking about. Of course, Jay was the one who had the temerity to mention it.

I wrote this article in the Fall 1999 issue of The GLC Laker for my last message as president of the Great Lakes Chapter:  “I’ll never forget when I got my first computer. I couldn’t figure out how to make the magic box do what it was supposed to do. I’d call Jay on the phone and frantically tell him, ‘I did this, then I did that, then this happened, then … and Jay would say ‘Slow down, let’s think about what you’ve done.’

His patience was amazing. He could have been a kindergarten teacher (that’s about the grade level I was in with computers). He would painstakingly walk me through the problem, step by step, no matter how long it took, until we finally solved the problem. After all that, his last words would be, ‘Is there anything else I can do for you?’ You can’t buy that kind of dedication.”

Do you have a sympathetic mentor you can talk to about some fuzzy, half-baked idea? Someone who can help you flesh out the details to determine if it has merit? A person who has the willingness to actually give you his honest opinion? If you have that kind of relationship, you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t, you’re missing a really trusted advisor. But you’ll have to get your own; this one is taken.

Thanks, Jay. I owe you big time.