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FREE Sample Magazine (Type Mailing Address into E-mail Message) | President's Column Archive
 May 2005 Plain Talk for a New Generation
James Thomas, President, ASTM

Go to other Plain Talk for a New Generation articles.

A Business Partner

Many members of ASTM International have approached me over the years, telling me they are concerned that their corporations’ executives simply don’t understand the value of standardization. It can be difficult, under those circumstances, for members who are in the trenches of standards development to convince even their immediate supervisors of the very real benefits that standardization offers.

When a company invests in standards development, it benefits from the cost-savings inherent in having those standards on the market. When a company invests in ASTM International’s approach to standardization, they acquire a business partner — one that not only deliberately seeks to help them develop the best possible market-relevant standards, but that has the breadth and foresight to work strategically with partners around the globe to ensure the greatest possible use of those standards.

As a start in defining this partnership, let me describe just some of the initiatives ASTM has undertaken on the global stage to maximize the impact of the standards you develop.

ASTM International has now signed memorandums of understanding with 35 countries, the latest being Nigeria, Taiwan, and Costa Rica. These MOUs bring ASTM standards into developing countries and establish working partnerships with government authorities, aligning ASTM standards with official policies and commercial interests. Without these partnerships, ASTM standards might be forbidden in these countries.

In addition to the MOUs, ASTM International routinely works with the National Institute of Standards and Technology in their Standards in Trade workshops, bringing knowledge of standardization and the ASTM International process to the nations of the world. In August of this year, ASTM will participate in energy conferences with NIST that will address the role of standards and conformity assessment for the oil and gas sector, their impact on global trade, and implications for India.

Last month, two ASTM staff members who are proficient in Spanish (Teresa Cendrowska, director of external relations, and Jessica Hychalk, manager, global cooperation) worked with the staff manager of Committees C01 on Cement and C09 on Concrete and Concrete Aggregates, Jim Olshefsky, and members of the committee’s joint international task group to conduct two separate standards-specific discussions with technical representatives in three Latin American countries. These virtual meetings closed with a hands-on overview on the use of ASTM’s electronic tools for members and potential members in that part of the world.

ASTM’s vice president for global cooperation, Kitty Kono, has taken part in training courses on standards conducted by the U.S. Department of Commerce for its commercial officers who serve in embassies around the world. ASTM conducts its own virtual training from its headquarters for staff members of standards bodies around the world. The latest such virtual sessions were conducted for Zambia and Egypt. ASTM is conducting its first Arabic language training course and its first workshop comparing world steel standards. We’re a partner in the Consortium on Standards and Conformity Assessment that recently opened an office in Beijing, China.

Every day there is something happening to bring ASTM standards to far corners of the world. ASTM International’s global initiatives mean that for companies using ASTM standards, global trade is easier, more efficient, and a lot more cost-effective. It means that companies that have put their resources into the development of ASTM standards are realizing an incredible return on their investment. There isn’t a company in the world that wouldn’t welcome news like this. As unbelievable as it may seem, many companies never hear it.

The fact is, too many corporate executives have a gap in their knowledge about standardization, and that gap can be costly. I, my staff, and our board of directors are ready to bring standardization directly into the executive suite of your company. We are prepared to explain the value and importance of standards in a global market and how ASTM standards contribute to your global initiatives.

There isn’t a company in the world that doesn’t need to know how it can use standards to be bigger and better and more globalized. ASTM International is more than a standards organization — it’s a business partner, and you, the ASTM member, are the key to your corporation’s awareness of this fact and great opportunity. ASTM International will appear on your agenda if you put it there. Let’s close this gap together.

James A. Thomas
President, ASTM

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