Ramani leaves a legacy of quality assurance for IAS and the building industry
C.P. “Chuck” Ramani still remembers the cool day in November 1973 when he interviewed with John Nosse of the legacy organization International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO).
“Anxious to join the illustrious group, I put on a smart suit, gathered papers and certificates in a nice briefcase and showed up at ICBO’s office in Whittier, Calif., to impress the top brass,” he recalled. His prime reason for joining ICBO then was to work under a licensed engineer so he could take the state engineering licensing exam.
Ramani was prepared for at least two hours of intense grilling, but Nosse had other plans for the young engineer who already had worked with famed architect Joseph Allen Stein and helped start a testing laboratory.
“Mr. Nosse came out to the lobby, asked me to take a seat, and before I could even pull out my paperwork, started scribbling some numbers on the back of his business card, which he then handed over to me,” Ramani recalled. “The numbers on the back of the card reflected my starting salary with the hiring date.”
“He said they knew who I was and would really appreciate a favorable response to their employment offer. That was the beginning of my 44-plus-year journey with ICBO and ultimately, the International Code Council.”
Specifically, Ramani founded the International Accreditation Service (IAS) shortly after joining ICBO. IAS, now a wholly owned subsidiary of the International Code Council, accredits a wide range of companies and organizations, including governmental entities, commercial businesses and professional associations.
IAS accreditation programs are based on recognized national and international standards that ensure domestic and/or global acceptance of its accreditations.
Currently, IAS has a substantial portfolio of accredited-entities, something of which Ramani is very proud as he prepares to retire. “This truly is a remarkable achievement in such a competitive market,” he said.”
One that ICC Chief Executive Officer Dominic Sims, CBO, knows has strengthened not only building safety throughout the world, but the Code Council itself.
“Chuck has built an organization whose quality is without peer, and he remains a vital and revered resource for all of us,” said Sims. “He cares deeply about the success of IAS, and respects the high quality of both its work and staff.
“Thanks to his vision and leadership, last year was IAS’ most successful growth year, which sets a new standard for continued success.”
IAS Senior Vice President Raj Nathan stepped into the presidency, something for which Ramani prepared him well.
“Chuck has been a wonderful mentor in many ways,” said Nathan. He worked with Ramani when they were at ICBO, and IAS morphed from ICBO Evaluation Services.
“I was present at creation, so Chuck and I have worked very closely from the inception, and our mission and values are aligned, said Nathan.”
Under Ramani, IAS has transitioned from a group for building officials to one represented by diverse sectors of the building industry. Among those drawn in was Rocco Davis, vice president and regional manager of the Pacific Southwest Region of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), who ultimately became vice chair of the IAS board.
Davis credits Ramani with “incredible global expansion, especially in the Middle East, allowing IAS to gain credibility throughout the world, and letting people know extra quality is well worth the price. It’s the right thing to do.”
He said Ramani is an “all-in guy who never does anything half way. He has a knack for getting people in the room who don’t always see things the same way, making them comfortable to share their ideas.”
“It’s bittersweet to see him leave.”
Former IAS Board member John Barrios said he had known Ramani since the late 1990s. State officials in Florida still were refining their first building code following Hurricane Andrew. He remembered the discussion started to focus on how to gauge qualifications of code officials and processes.
“There wasn’t a lot of money to work with, and when they sent out requests for proposals from accreditation companies, Chuck was the only one who responded,” said Barrios, now building official for Hillsborough County, Fla.
Shortly thereafter, they started working on building department accreditation guidelines for not just Florida, but one that the entire country could use.
“I had been in codes for 15 years or so, so this was a refreshing change,” Barrios said. “Chuck has a unique characteristic: When he feels you have the expertise to help with a plan, he’s a hard man to say no to.”
“Chuck has good insights; he is most definitely a visionary. He is getting people to realize accreditation is an important part of the regulatory process. But it’s also not very well understood. Very basically, IAS regulates the regulators.”
As a person, many have been charmed by his warmth and caring.
“I remember one meeting where he went around the table and asked people not just to introduce themselves, but to tell what is going on in their lives right now,” Barrios said. “What is important in their lives?”
“He makes it clear that all we do is not for codes, but for the people those codes protect. We help people.”
“He makes it clear that all we do is not for codes, but for the people those codes protect. We help people. What we do makes a difference for people, not the regulatory world. Families, children affected by the schools we help build. It’s all about people.”
“Raj will do a great job, but Chuck will be missed.”
Mark Johnson, executive vice president and director of ICC Business Development, said IAS grew by 10 to 15 percent when Ramani and his crew developed the Metal Building Fabricator Program.
“It was a great program that came out of nowhere,” he said.
Sara Yerkes, senior vice president of ICC Government Relations, said Ramani’s leadership and development of IAS has helped raise ICC’s profile globally, as well as the standards throughout the industry.
Always a gentleman, she said, he must have a great sense of humor, since she always heard a lot of laughter coming from the tables where he sat at conferences and dinners.
Ramani credited the “giants of the engineering and code development community” who helped him not only with the codes, but to smooth out and fine tune the rougher edges of his personality when he was first starting out.
But he credited Stein for helping to ignite his intense love of, and respect for, the need to develop quality standards for the building and code industry.
“Working directly under Mr. Stein’s guidance, I learnt the importance of quality control in construction,” he said. “As my retirement date approaches, I would like to pay homage to the venerable Mr. Stein for inculcating the basic quality principles into me.”
But not before he, Nathan and several others from IAS traveled to India for a convention where they could help spread the word about IAS and quality assurance.
“India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world and will see a huge volume of construction activity in the next few decades,” Ramani said. “We were gathering information on market conditions for investment in the country’s accreditation and code-enforcement arena, so a roadmap of the role ICC/IAS could play in the continent could be prepared for consideration at the March 2018 board of directors meeting.”
Nathan said Ramani left a legacy to the staff as well as the industry.
“Like in all families, there were some hot and heavy back and forth in critical matters, but Chuck set the tone for respect and regard in all of our engagements,” he said. “I think the tone Chuck has set will resonate. The preparation for over a decade has been quite good.”
Sims said Ramani set a clear course for the future for the future of IAS.
“We congratulate Chuck on his outstanding career in global conformity assessment and construction code enforcement,” he said. “I will miss his input and leadership, but am grateful for his clear vision of what IAS should be and his lasting contributions to our organization and the industry.”
Click here to view photos from the retirement party.