At this year's annual conference April 25-29 at the Westin in Hilton Head, SC& RA once again will bestow an array of awards upon individuals and companies that contribute in significant ways to the association and the industry it serves. Traditionally, Job of the Year and the numerous safety award winners generate the most attention in the trade press.

I would like to reserve this space, however, to express my sincere appreciation to the 26 companies that will receive Longevity Awards for 25 years or more of loyal membership. This year at the annual conference we will recognize 26 member companies with Longevity Awards, including one for 50 years, four for 45 years, seven for 40 years, one for 35 years, four for 30 years, and nine for 25 years.

Representatives from these companies have served the association ably over the years in various capacities. They have donated their time and talent as members of committees and task forces. A number of them have helped steer SC& RA as officers and members of the board of directors.

They have assisted our efforts to create a favorable regulatory climate at all levels – from local to federal. Their financial and intellectual contributions to the SC& R Foundation have enabled us to undertake important research and award scholarships to students dedicated to pursuing a career related to our industry.

They have supported this magazine and its sister publication, International Cranes & Specialized Transport, by supplying timely, relevant information and advertising.

In many cases, these stalwart members are the glue that holds together SC& RA's remarkably strong network. Beyond their active participation at meetings, they call other long-term members to give and receive advice, job leads or maybe even help recruit a new member.

But they also look to expand their network. They are some of our most active recruiters, and they make a point of warmly welcoming first-time attendees at SC& RA meetings.

Just about any company that has been in our industry for 25 years or more has experienced some troubling times. Our Longevity Award winners are the kind of companies that realize that it is even more important to remain active in the association when the chips are down for the industry.

Together, SC& RA members and staff invariably rise to meet even the toughest challenges. Although we're proud of our accomplishments, this association is never satisfied. Accordingly, SC& RA constantly looks for new programs and services to better meet the needs of members. SC& RA may offer more than you know. We encourage you to browse our website at www.scranet.org to review your association's products and services.

We also cordially invite nonmembers to view the site to see just what they are missing. Check out our special package for new members. For only $395, new members receive full membership benefits for a year plus a free registration for any SC& RA meeting within the next 12 months. New members also can receive 25% off SC& RA's already low member prices for an additional meeting registration of their choice, our most popular publications and a select group of other valuable products and services.

Why these special deals? We're confident that once companies try SC& RA, they'll remain loyal members.

That philosophy seems to be working. In addition to the Longevity Awards previously mentioned, SC& RA will mail dozens of individual certificates in recognition and appreciation to companies celebrating five, 10, 15 and 20 years of loyal membership.

Our membership retention rate last year was a solid 94%. The level of membership retention is an important barometer of the condition of any association. Our record is matched by very few other associations. We pledge to work hard throughout 2006 to earn the continued loyalty of our members.

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