January 2022 | Vol. 27 No.1
by Pat Walsh, Contributing Writer
NEMA President and CEO Debra Phillips was joined by NEMA Board Chair Annette Clayton of Schneider Electric to honor the winners of the Association’s annual industry awards November 4, 2020, during the NEMA Annual Meeting. The NEMA Awards Gala celebrates achievement, applauds creativity and salutes electroindustry leaders and their contributions to the electrical and medical imaging industries. The event was sponsored by UL.
Noting that innovation, by its nature, incorporates risk, UL President and CEO Jenny Scanlon opened the program by recognizing the role of environmental, social, and governance standards in achieving advances across the electrical landscape, from energy storage systems to cybersecurity.
Illuminations Award—Robroy Industries
Sponsored this year by Maxivolt, the Illuminations Award for Business Innovation recognizes entrepreneurial growth, advanced technology, and innovation in a small or medium-sized company. The 2021 award went to Robroy Industries. Founded in 1905, it manufactures innovative raceway systems that protect equipment and prevent electrical shock.
Accepting the award, Robroy CEO Rob McIllroy addressed the challenges of a 116-year-old company that manufactures conduit and enclosures, which he jokingly referred to as pipes, boxes, and dinosaurs.
While these are not product categories generally associated with innovation and entrepreneurism, the award is all the more meaningful to Robroy. According to Mr. McIlroy, innovation is a strategic imperative as the company seeks new applications for its products, better solutions for its customers, and the next generation of talent in manufacturing.
“We have to have an entrepreneurial spirit and a forward-thinking team,” Mr. McIllroy said. “So, our goal is simple. We want to create value differentiation in everything.”
Röntgen Award for Advancements in Medical Imaging—Elisabeth George
The Medical Imaging and Technology Alliance (MITA) confers its annual Rӧntgen Award on an individual whose work exemplifies advancements in medical imaging and celebrates pioneers and leaders within MITA.
MITA Executive Director Patrick Hope joined Ms. Clayton in presenting the 2021 award to Elisabeth George for her contributions to, and participation in, Codes and Standards that advance medical-imaging technology. She is the Head of Global Government Affairs, Standards, and Regulations at Philips Healthcare.
Named for Wilhelm Conrad Rӧntgen, who discovered x-rays and created the first medical diagnostic image in 1895, the award personifies MITA’s vision to support essential healthcare services using modern versions of these technologies through its Member companies’ products and services.
After acknowledging Philips Healthcare for its support, Ms. George thanked the MITA and NEMA staffs as well as her family, all of whom have supported what she called her “passion” for regulations and standards.
“You are part of the partnership that made me successful and made all of us successful.”
Kite & Key Awards—Kevin Lippert and George Straniero
The Kite & Key Awards, sponsored this year by WESCO Distribution, recognized Kevin Lippert, Codes and Standards Senior Manager at Eaton, and George Straniero, former Codes and Standards Manager of Atkore International, as individuals who have advanced the interests of the electroindustry through steadfast and active involvement in Codes and standards.
For more than 35 years, Mr. Lippert has promoted the electrical sector’s domestic and international strategic direction for Codes and Standards. In addition to his involvement in NEMA committees and sections, he serves as president of the U.S. National Committee of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).
In accepting the award, Mr. Lippert acknowledged Eaton’s commitment; the “tight rope” NEMA staff often walk in dealing with opposing interests; and the unique relationship of colleagues, who are competitors, and yet friends.
“We have made a difference in this industry,” he said. “We have done it collectively. I ask that we keep that in mind as we move forward. Let’s not lose sight of that mutual goal for all of us.”
Mr. Straniero agreed. Although he worked at Atkore for more than 25 years, his involvement in NEMA spanned three companies and nearly four decades. In addition to having served as both Chair and Vice-Chair of the Codes and Standards Committee for five years, he also participated in UL, CSA Group, and the National Fire Protection Association.
Mr. Straniero emphasized that in this work, “No one goes it alone.” In particular, he praised the guidance of his mentor Russ Higginbottom, who was the first recipient of the Kite & Key Award.
“It really pleases me,” he said of following in his mentor’s footsteps. “It took a long time to achieve the same recognition.”
Bernard H. Falk Award—Donald J. Hendler
In introducing Donald J. Hendler as the 2021 Bernard H. Falk Award recipient, NEMA Board Chair Annette Clayton noted that the award recognizes outstanding achievement in technology, management, marketing, international trade, education, public affairs, or any other field important to the electroindustry.
“This year's honoree checks all of those boxes,” she said. “He exemplifies commitment, character, and steadfast support of the electroindustry.”
This year’s award was sponsored by Southwire. Established in 1991, it is named in honor of the former NEMA President who significantly influenced the association's government-relations and membership activities. The list of Falk recipients includes Mr. Hendler’s father-in-law, Harold Leviton.
“I knew Bernie Falk,” Mr. Hendler said. “I’m aware of the contributions he made to NEMA and the industry. I’m deeply humbled.”
Mr. Hendler served as President of Leviton Manufacturing Co., Inc., before becoming its CEO. In a career spanning more than 37 years there, he directed strategic planning, human resources, and distribution initiatives, as well as sales, marketing, and product development. He viewed the award as “not a tribute to me personally, but to the Leviton company and to all those who support me in my role as CEO.”
In his tenure on the NEMA Board, including serving as its Chair, Mr. Hendler was pivotal in establishing the Industry Data Exchange Association (IDEA) as a successful joint venture with the National Association of Electrical Distributors.
He is proud of the vital role the association plays in developing standards for the electroindustry and medical imaging, and for its leadership in analytics, advocacy, and Standards. The inclusion of all-sized companies in this capacity has given voice to the entire industry, he said, not just a select few.
Based on that strength, he concluded that NEMA is ready to help shape the nation’s electrical future and improve and protect its infrastructure.
“Our role as an industry in America’s future is too critical not to do so.”
Bidding Farewell to Outgoing President and CEO Kevin Cosgriff
In closing the program, Ms. Clayton thanked outgoing President and CEO Kevin Cosgriff for his seven years of service.
Mr. Cosgriff reflected on his tenure by recalling a quote from Bill Gates. “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next 10.”
He cited a few examples to illustrate his underestimation of the pace of change in the electroindustry since 2014:
- LEDs have gone from one percent of lamp shipments to more than 75 percent.
- The electricity generation mix in the United States was 39 percent coal, 28 percent natural gas, and 13 percent renewables. Today, coal use has more than halved, natural gas has increased to 40 percent of our electricity generation, and renewables have increased to 20 percent.
- Electric vehicles accounted for less than 0.5 percent of new car sales. Today, 55 different EV models account for five percent of new car sales.
These changes, he concluded, were facilitated by the efforts of NEMA Members and staff, who worked tirelessly to advance the electroindustry.