An Annual Look
It’s that time again, the time of year when organizations turn a spotlight on every function and operation and publish the findings in an annual report.
There are those for whom an annual report is not compelling reading. Others anticipate it eagerly and read every line. For those who haven’t perused it at all as yet, let me say that all is well. In a recessive economy, ASTM International is financially sound. Vigorously healthy. Operations have never been more innovative or more responsive to the needs of members. Our outreach has extended farther than we ever dreamed possible. National standards bodies in countries in all parts of the world have become ASTM partners. Thousands of ASTM standards are used around the world as the basis of regulations and as essential elements of trade between nations. Our global memberships are expanding, especially among student members, which speaks well for the future. ASTM standards are being cited in a growing number of U.S. Congressional bills and laws. There is an ASTM presence in Washington, D.C., Mexico City and Beijing. ASTM standards and publications are translated into more languages than ever before. More ASTM meetings are held outside North America. New technologies are appearing at an ever-increasing pace. Every aspect of the ASTM International annual report points to an organization that is efficient, dynamic and successful.
The facts and numbers constitute a powerful body of evidence that speaks to that success, but there are other markers that do not make an appearance in this annual report. This year ASTM International celebrates its 110th anniversary. The United States of America was young, only 122 years old, when the first ASTM meeting was held in Philadelphia, Pa., the nation’s birthplace. ASTM’s founders borrowed heavily from the young republic’s ideals and adopted a system of standardization based on openness, internationality, equality and individual freedoms. The incredible part of the ASTM story is that in 110 years, it has never strayed from these values, never diluted them and never compromised the commitment to uphold them. This is the foundation of ASTM’s success.
The opportunity to develop standards in such an environment has drawn some of the finest technical and administrative talent in the world to the ASTM International community. Each issue of this magazine is replete with photographs of members and partners, visiting delegations, ASTM technical experts conducting training sessions, multicultural committees and projects, and trips by ASTM staff to every corner of the world. Each photograph tells the same story: This system works for everybody. These values apply to everybody. The photographs are the pictures of opportunity, of people who are about to pursue the development of standards in a way they may not have experienced before. There are also pictures of those who are holding plaques and receiving awards, leaders who have been the backbone of ASTM committees all their working lives. And then there are the people whose pictures we do not see, but who labor tirelessly and anonymously in the pursuit of excellence. They are the measure of ASTM’s success.
It is true that ASTM’s board of directors, its governing bodies and staff have been judicious and careful in the management of its resources. It is true that investments have been handled wisely. And yes, it is true that ASTM standards and publications are promoted and sell very well. It is also true that the development of standards is good work, something of which to be proud. Everyone in this large ASTM International family in some way contributes to a better, safer world. And this is also a measure of ASTM’s success.
There are some successes that can’t be quantified. Still, if you haven’t read it yet, take a look at this year’s annual report. It’s quite a story.
The 2007 annual report can be found by clicking here.
James A. Thomas