Each institution has them. They’re sometimes called “heroes,” “heroines,” or even “godsends.” They’re the often unsung volunteers who give generously of their time and talents to make an organization a better place.
We at the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) have been fortunate to have many such generous volunteers, and we welcome the opportunity each fall to recognize them for their gracious support.
This past Wednesday, we recognized one such special volunteer during our annual CRI meeting by presenting him with the annual Joseph J. Smrekar Memorial Award.
First off, a little history. The Joseph J. Smrekar Memorial Award is named for “Dr. Joe,” as he was affectionately called, for “setting the standard for service” for CRI and the carpet industry. An employee of Milliken, Joe Smrekar served on numerous CRI committees for many years, and he was especially helpful to our organization with respect to technical issues.
The award was created in an effort to honor him following his untimely death in 1998, and has been given annually ever since to recognize someone in the industry who has participated with CRI on any number of industry-related issues.
This year the award has gone to another “Joe.” The 2012 recipient is Joe Foye of Mohawk Industries Inc., an attorney who serves as divisional general counsel for Mohawk and who has in the past served as an active member of the CRI Government Issues Committee.
At CRI, Joe has given generously of his time and talents in a number of ways. He currently chairs the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and CARE (Carpet America Recovery Effort) Panel. The panel’s main responsibility is to address and stop legislative mandates regarding EPR, which is legislation that would place the responsibility for the end-of-life of a product on its manufacturer.
It is a panel that has worked to defeat carpet-specific legislation in several states, and Joe has played a key role. Unlike legislative issues at the federal level, issues at the state level move quickly. Joe has been instrumental in working with the panel to defeat legislation that could have irreparably harmed the carpet industry. He has worked quickly to alert CRI panel members and to work at a grassroots level to engage folks on the ground to oppose the legislation.
Through his involvement with CRI, Joe has made several trips to Washington, D.C., to share with our Georgia and other delegations how policies in DC were affecting our members. He has made those trips willingly. Bear in mind that Joe still has his “day job,” and his trips to DC to speak for CRI causes go well above and beyond what he would need to do to keep that day job.
We are grateful for those efforts. But most importantly, we appreciate Joe for his common sense approach to problem resolution, his ability to make sound decisions, his responsiveness to others, and his accessibility to those whom he serves.
These are traits that lend themselves well both to his role at Mohawk and to his role at CRI.
We salute Joe for his tireless efforts to make CRI the “standard bearer” organization it has come to be.
Werner Braun is president of the Dalton-based Carpet and Rug Institute.