Hub Chat: Billy Smith, Executive Director/CEO of American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE)

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While we are still enjoying summer, fall will be here sooner than we wish and as we know in the industry, fall begins trade show season. This year marks the first time in ages that the ASPE Convention and Expo 2018 will not be occurring on or around Halloween. To get a better feel for the convention and expo, we chatted with Billy Smith, Executive Director/CEO of the American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE).

MH: Before we talk about the convention and expo, how is ASPE doing as an organization and what are some of the programs and industry resources you offer to plumbing contractors?

BS: First, I just want to express how exciting it is to be serving the ASPE membership and the plumbing industry as a whole as the Society Executive Director/CEO. Our Society’s Board of Directors and our talented staff are focused on our membership growth and improving the industry as a whole, and ASPE is continuing to advance those objectives with a positive outlook. Having had the opportunity to serve our Society on the Board of Directors for 10 years and then join the Society staff, serving as both the Executive Director/CEO and Sr. Director of Technical and Regulatory Affairs, gives me a different and effective perspective to assist our continued development and growth on a global basis. My goals and desires are to continue implementing the policies and procedures established by the ASPE Board of Directors in support of ASPE’s local Chapters and for all Society activities and programs.

ASPE would be proud to expand on the collaborative opportunities that would benefit contractors and our members alike. Most importantly, we have an entire track this year as part of our Technical Education Program specifically related to construction design, allowing for contractors to have an opportunity to address our members and vice versa. This is important to ASPE as to how we can better assist each other by discussing strategies to successfully work together in areas such as design/build and design/assist projects. Gaining a better understanding of each other’s demands would be a good collaboration. I’m sure there are other areas, and ASPE would be interested in developing additional relationship opportunities.

I feel that my role as an industry professional for well over three decades in different capacities can be an asset that brings perspective to all of our various membership groups and industry partners relating to joint venture opportunities. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to serve our Society by assuming a leadership role as a member of the Board of Directors as the Vice President, Affiliate, representing our manufacturers and representative agencies, which would connect with the contractors as well. ASPE would like to work with the contractor industry to increase educational opportunities. ASPE has a very successful webinar facility that we would gladly make available for joint opportunities.

As well, I will continue to build and maintain relationships with all of our industry partners to ensure that the public’s health and safety are kept at the forefront of legislation and regulations regarding plumbing system design, installation, inspection, and maintenance as we work as a team, particularly to ensure that the public’s health and safety are kept at the forefront of our respective collaborative efforts.

MH: In addition to how you’re doing, what are a few issues facing the plumbing industry and how is ASPE is taking a leadership role to address those issues and challenges?

BS: ASPE will always play an important role in addressing the largest concerns within our industry that are directly connected to our mission statement: “The American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE) is the international organization for professionals skilled in the design, specification, and inspection of plumbing systems. ASPE is dedicated to the advancement of the science of plumbing engineering, to the professional growth and advancement of its members, and to the health, welfare, and safety of the public.” Just to name a few, some of the vital areas continue to be water and energy efficiency, Legionella/pathogens risk mitigation, Hunter’s curve improvements from the commercial side, legislation/regulatory/advocacy efforts, lead and copper, industry research, PERC (Plumbing Efficiency Research Coalition), PILC (Plumbing Industry Leadership Coalition), and flush and flow reduction issues, while always keeping our eyes and ears open to new design trends in healthcare and medical gases.

MH: Now, let’s chat about the Convention & Expo…it’s less than 100 days away. Our readers probably don’t realize the amount of time that goes into producing a show if this size, so take us behind the scenes…what has the last year been like putting the show together and address why the dates were moved from the traditional Halloween timeframe?

BS: Actually, planning for our Convention & Expo, which is a biennial event, begins several years in advance with the city/location selection. We research several cities for consideration and present the available options to the Society Board of Directors for the final decision. Once that decision has been made, the preparations begin and never really stop. However, yes, the final year leading up to the actual event is like being in the eye of the storm, if you will. Things are always moving and changing, and we have learned to be extremely flexible to address our members’ needs to ensure that we provide the best member experience possible. This includes all of our member categories as we strive to bring the most benefit to our exhibitors, our industry partners, and in general anyone who takes the time to come join our events; we want them to continue returning for the next and the next. That is our focus: consistent benefit growth to our stakeholders.

MH: The Convention & Expo is in Atlanta this year, what makes Atlanta so attractive to ASPE, attendees and exhibitors?

BS: From an attendance and participation standpoint, Atlanta is an easy city to get to from anywhere really. Being a main hub for one of the world’s largest airlines is helpful. Having the largest portion of our membership base in the eastern portion of the U.S. connects well with Atlanta and the ease of arrival. As well, Atlanta has much to offer for those who may plan to come a litte early or remain afterward for some individual or family time.

MH: Technology and innovation are often overused buzzwords, but in the case with the Convention & Expo, you have several hundred exhibitors showcasing their newest products. Can you give us some information on the number of exhibitors and why it’s so valuable for a plumbing contractor to attend and walk the expo floor?

BS: By attending the free Expo on October 1–2, participants will have the ability to connect with more than 300 exhibiting manufacturers and suppliers and network with more than 4,000 industry professionals from around the world. In addition, they will have access to complimentary education sessions in the Innovation Theater in the ASPE Pavilion as well as our co-located ARCSA Pavilion exhibitors. In addition, we offer continuing education credits for every hour spent on the show floor. Expo-Only attendees just have to pay a minor fee to receive the credits.

MH: Beyond the expo, there are a number of technical sessions, leadership programming and special events, can you provide us with a quick overview of those?

BS: The 2018 ASPE Convention & Expo features 25 technical education sessions for those who pay the full registration fee. The sessions are designed to help plumbing industry professionals at all career levels learn new skills or refresh their design repertoire. Each session offers 0.125 CEUs that can be used for license and certification continuing education requirements. Tracks on System Design; Construction Design; Equipment Exploration; Design, Selection, & Beyond; and Latest Trends are available.

MH: What do you hope attendees will be able to extract from the Convention & Expo?

BS: New relationships, new and fresh ideas, and advanced education and skills play a vital role in moving each attendee forward in their respective career. Regardless of the attendee category, engineer, contractor, rep, architect, or manufacturer, we want to improve the experience for all and give benefit to ensure the next opportunity to participate is a can’t-miss or can’t-afford-not-to-attend moment.

MH: What tidbits can you add that would entice readers who might be undecided about attending this year’s show?

BS: We feel that our Convention & Expo is so valuable to those who attend that the biggest tidbit I would offer to end our discussion would be that those who have not registered to date should consider that they may miss the opportunity to gain important information/education needed to solve the most recent design, construction, application, and implementation issues for their current employer. In most cases, it may cost more to not attend than to attend

MH: Any other items you want to share about ASPE or the Convention & Expo?

BS: Our 2018 Convention & Expo in Atlanta will be one of the best ASPE events ever. Now, to ensure it is the best ever, your attendance is needed. With that, I’m looking forward to seeing everyone in Atlanta. Kick your shoes off and stay awhile.

Combining professional development sessions designed exclusively for plumbing industry professionals with the largest plumbing product trade show in the country, the 2018 ASPE Convention & Expo is the must-attend event of the year. Join thousands of industry professionals in Atlanta, September 28 – October 3, 2018.


William “Billy” M. Smith, FASPE, is the Executive Director/CEO of the American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE). Smith is responsible for the administration, management, and financial operations of the Society, as well as implementing the policies and procedures established by the ASPE Board of Directors

Smith has been a part of the plumbing industry since 1981, joined ASPE in 1993 as an Affiliate Member and is currently a Full Member of the Society. He assumed a leadership role in 2002 when he was appointed to the ASPE Board of Directors as Society Affiliate Liaison, and during his tenure the position evolved into Vice President, Affiliate. He was elected to ASPE’s College of Fellows in 2012 and received ASPE’s Distinguished Service Award that same year.

ASPE is the only professional organization devoted to the training and certification of plumbing engineers and designers. ASPE and its 6,000 worldwide members are dedicated to protecting the health, welfare, and safety of the public through the dissemination of technical data and information to expand the base of knowledge among plumbing engineers, designers, contractors, code officials, inspectors, and manufacturers.

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