|“For many of us over the span of a career, opportunities to serve in a capacity such as the ICC Board are limited. It is my good fortune to say that I am able and willing to dedicate the resources necessary to be an effective member of the Board.”|
In the mid-1990s, Lexington Fayette Urban County Government (LFUCG) Building Official William Rhea Umberger gave a piece of advice to Alex “Cash” Olszowy, a general contractor in Kentucky who had been involved in the construction industry since the early 1980s. “Rhea told me that if I ever got tired of swinging a hammer, I should consider getting into code enforcement,” Olszowy explains.
Olszowy took that advice in 1997, when he joined the LFUCG as a Building Inspector, and worked his way through the ranks to his current position of LFUCG Building Inspection Manager. Prior to serving as a Board officer, he was elected as an at-large representative on the Code Council Board of Directors.
“For many of us over the span of a career, opportunities to serve in a capacity such as the ICC Board are limited,” Olszowy says. “It is my good fortune to say that I am able and willing to dedicate the resources necessary to be an effective member of the Board.”
Olszowy’s interest in the construction industry began at a young age while his father worked as a handyman. As a youth, Olszowy helped rehab his family’s homes after the devastation of the flood in 1972, and continued assisting his dad throughout high school. Eventually, he worked as a carpenter for a construction company in Lexington. From 1988-1997, Olszowy was owner/operator of Residential Concepts, where he served as a general contractor and carpentry sub-contractor. “I worked in the same subdivision development for three years,” he explains. “Working with Rhea and the other inspectors, it almost became a game to pass inspections challenging my knowledge and experience with the code requirements. My first code book was the 1986 CABO edition, and reading it solved a lot of problems for me as a contractor.”
After following Umberger’s advice, Olszowy was a Building Inspector for the LFUCG from 1997-2000 and a Building Inspection Senior for three years. He has served as Building Inspection Supervisor and Building Inspection Manager for commercial and new residential construction, where he plans, schedules, supervises and coordinates the work of the inspection staff. He reviews and approves construction plans for compliance with the building code and zoning ordinance, and develops and recommends revisions of policies and procedures concerning the regulation of codes and ordinances. On occasion, Olszowy also performs inspections relating to problem situations that involve complex building and zoning issues.
Olszowy has served on the CAAK Board of Directors since 2001. He served as Chapter President from 2008-2010, Immediate Past President 2010-2012 and became a Life Director in 2012. He also has served as Vice President (2006-2008), Secretary (2005-2006), and as a member of the CAAK Code Change/Development Committee. As a member of the ICC Board, he follows in the footsteps of CAAK members Billy Holcomb and Robert G. Blanton who served on the board of the legacy organization Building Officials and Code Administrators International.
Although the role of Chapters may have changed since the Code Council consolidation in 2003, Olszowy says their importance has not. “Unlike the legacy days, the new ICC is more Member focused and Chapters’ roles are a little different in the new business model,” he explains. “But there can be a stronger mutual relationship between ICC and its Chapters, and Chapters have the ability to draw from ICC’s line of products and services and educational opportunities to accommodate their needs. We want a good, working relationship with our Chapters and we need our Chapters to speak up about issues to the Board and to be a part of this organization.”
During his term on the ICC Board, Olszowy says the Code Council Board needs to remain focused on two key areas:
- Continued improvements to the Code Development Process. Olszowy credits the work of the Board’s Code Development Review Ad Hoc Committee, and says, “We need to try to keep it as open and as transparent as possible, and we need everybody to play by the rules. While the idea of having thousands of members participating in the hearings is good, we can’t empty our offices to attend the hearings. If we can find other ways to increase participation, then we can ask, ‘If you didn’t participate and vote, then how can you complain about it?’”
- Good budget management during uncertain economic times. “We need to continue to operate with fiscal responsibility. We need to assume revenues are going to stay the same and we need to continue to keep an eye on our expenses. And then what happens if we’re hit with unforeseeable expenses? If we’re being good stewards with the budget, then we’ll be in a better position to answer that question. It’s just like balancing the check book.”
Olszowy views his and his fellow members’ time on the ICC Board as an opportunity to shape the long-term future of the organization. “How do we make sure ICC is there tomorrow?” he asks. “What happens 15 years from now when the young people in our offices begin to take over these leadership positions? If we do our jobs right and develop a better organization for the future, when we’re retired we can proudly sit back and say, ‘Yeah, we were a part of that.’”