Dominic Townsend – ALN Th@3

We are starting our 2022 ALN Th@3 pm ET discussion program series with Dominic Townsend, President, ABS Quality Evaluation, and ALN Board of Directors member, who will be talking with Jim Dieter about ALN increased programming in 2022.

Dominic Townsend, President, ABS Quality Evaluation & ALN Board of Directors

Full Transcript

Disclaimer: ALN Th@3 is produced to be viewed/listened to. Transcriptions are a mixture of human transcribers and speech-to-text software, and can contain errors.

Nick Knoke:  Hello and welcome, thank you all for being here today on this January six 2022. Oh, I notice I left 2021 and that’s fine. Sorry about that, but we know what year it is, and I’m really excited today to talk with Dominic Townsend, president of ABS quality evaluations, as well as he’s on the board of ALN.  Before we get underway, I just want to thank our patron members definitive logic and Onuma system ABS quality evaluations, especially today at ABS Group, as well as our organizational members, which is a growing list, as you can see. So reach out to anyone at the ALN if you’re interested in becoming part. And with that, I will just say thank you all for being here. We’d love to hear from you if you’re out there, so send any comments or questions, feedback to the chat or use the Q&A function of the Zoom webinar and we’ll kick this thing off. You take it away, Jim Dieter.

Jim Dieter:  All right, Nick, thank you very much. Well, first of all, if everyone had a had a good holiday and stayed safe and healthy, I know personally, I know a lot more people getting at least colds and then testing negative, which such good. That’s what I did. That’s why my voice is a little funky today. But please stay safe. So interesting, Nick left. January six, 2021 on the slide. A lot of us are thinking about that day today, and while this discussion won’t be about that, we did want to at least, you know, weigh the fact that that’s still on, you know, still in our thoughts. And, you know, hopefully you know, what we can do in ALN is to help make the country stronger and work in that direction. Dominic, welcome and get up to where you like to say about about the day.  

Dominic Townsend:  And I just want to say, first of all, thank you Jim and ALN for allowing me to speak today and happy New Year, everyone looking forward to the year and some great things. Unfortunately, today’s a tough day in the history of the United States, and our hearts go out to the families that have been impacted by it, and are hoping that moving forward that things become much better in this country and we continue to stay strong.

Jim Dieter:  Good, thank you. Thanks, Dominic. So usually we start off with the with an origin question, you know, but you’ve been on before, so you kind of already done that. But you know, maybe you could tell us about a little bit about ABS Quality Evaluations and how they decided to get into this organization decided to get into asset management.

Dominic Townsend:  Sure. Thank you, Jim. ABS Quality Evaluations we’ve been around since 1990. Last year, we celebrate. two years ago, we celebrated our 30th anniversary, so it’s an exciting time for ABS. Our focus has really been involved in the business assurance and building trust and with the organizations that we work with around the world. And asset management is a key component of business assurance activities. And as we build our organization and continue, we look for market segments that really follow the areas that we want to focus in. And asset management has been a natural area for us to play, and the future really looks bright for asset management activities into the in the Americas, I would say.

Jim Dieter:  Now, that’s good news. It’s such a huge market, you know, internationally, everybody always talks about that. The percentage of uptake in the United States on ISO’s management system standards isn’t as large as in some other places, but a smaller percent of a whole lot is a lot more than a small percentage or a big percentage of not comparatively that much.

Dominic Townsend:  That’s very true.

Jim Dieter:  You know, one of the topics that you know in the development effort as we’re working on the revisions to 55,000 to come out in a few years. There’s a lot of talk there, and more broadly in ISO, about the idea of management system standards. And it seems, you know, the international experience is people don’t just do one ISO management system standard and they tend to do two or three or four. Yeah. Has that been your experience as well?

Dominic Townsend:  Yeah. Many of our clients, they see that rolling out multiple management system standards, depending on the market segments that they operate in, really benefits them as an organization. Not only does it provide a return on investment and better financial controls, but also some of them like the health and safety standard. ISO 45,000 is very focused on people really making sure that people are protected. They understand the environments that they work in, and it tends to allow them to really make sure they implement activities to keep people safe and making sure that they get home to their families at night.  Some of the newer programs there is a big focus on cyber as we look at the business activities around the world, which keeps people up at night is data protection and security. So, you know, it’s been a big movement for us. It’s an area that we’re going to be playing in quite heavily in over the next several years. So when you look at management systems, standards organizations are implementing multiple programs, which really helps them benefit as an organization, both from a financial perspective, but also operationally and security wise as well.

Jim Dieter:  So just to make sure everybody connects the dots, there you you do do evaluations and certifications in a variety of these ISO management systems standards, right?

Dominic Townsend:  Correct. We’re accredited to perform audits under various multiple standards around the world. Well, of course, the larger core awards are ISO nine, 14, 45, as well as aerospace and the automotive programs. But we’re doing a lot more work in asset management activities ISO 55,000 as well as ISO 27,000, which is cyber. So we have quite a few of the programs that we’re accredited for to offer it to the marketplace.

Jim Dieter:  Well, I mean, it’s just such an interesting field, and the one question people always have too is, “So why should I get certified?”

Dominic Townsend:  I think that in my opinion, an organization can get certified because it really pulls together its organizational processes, allows people. It allows that people and the organization to understand how they operate within the industries that they’re working in and benchmark themselves for a facilitated facility or across their peers in the industries that they operate in to really see how they perform. So to me, when an organization gets certified, they can really go out there and really drive their organization performance across the different division lines as well as the programs that they’re operating.

Jim Dieter:  A word that’s lately come to my mind. In response to that question is rigor. And you can say we’re just we’re going to do it and we’re going to do ISO 55,000 or some other standard. But when you when you make the commitment to get certified, then you’re really saying, Oh, yeah, you know, we’re not just going to say, you know, we’re going to we’re going to prove it.

Dominic Townsend:  Yep. And that’s important. You know, organizations that that roll it out, they really need to make sure they invest into the into the management system, make sure they have the people in place and really be committed to the benefits of management system activities. To me, if you if in any business or work that you do, you really want to be committed to that and making sure that it’s very successful, you’re learning from it and you’re continually improving. And to me, that’s important in it whenever you’re rolling out any type of business activity or management system program.

Jim Dieter:  Well, I mean, the continuous improvement is. It’s such a simple idea, but boy, it’s not so obvious in a lot of corporate environments. I work for government contractors for years doing personal property management. And continuous improvement was not a concept, wasn’t a requirement, so it wasn’t a concept, it was either pass or fail. And you know, you better pass.

Dominic Townsend:  And you know, it’s it’s, you know, the great organizations, they’re always what I would call looking and looking around corners, how they’re preparing. They always want to get better and improve. And, you know, we go in and do our audits. You know, non-conformances might be raised, but you need to look at those, as is my my ability to see how I can make my organization better. So as it’s like going to the doctor right and you and you’re getting a health check, if you see things that need to be addressed, you want to make sure that you’re addressing those to better yourself. And it’s the same philosophy.

Jim Dieter:  And now some, you know, a more interesting, a perhaps interesting discussion, let me say that, that you and I have had before and that we’re again having in the ISO effort, is you know, starting from the idea that the key concept of 55,000 is that assets are a thing to provide value and there’s lots of discussion about whether it’s a strategic level document or an operational level document and in the way it’s applied, you know what your thoughts are, experience you’d like to share about that or.

Dominic Townsend:  I think at ISO 55,000 asset management. To me, it is very strategic because as you’re managing your assets, it’s really making sure that you get better use out of them. But there also has a large operational impact as well because, you know, just to make it a more understanding for the average person like one of our clients is the largest airport in the country and we are we audit their facilities activity. So just think about if their power generations go down, it could shut down the airport. People can’t fly home or can’t get around. So, so when you look at that, it really has a big operational impact as well. So it’s really about the strategy that you want to implement. Make sure that the assets are properly maintained and controlled and really controlling their life cycles and really get a lot of benefit out of them to make sure that you don’t have downtime and to eliminate risk of situations that might occur.

Jim Dieter:  Well, let’s see it’s huge, I mean, risk is you can’t have a discussion about asset management without without talking about risk or risk and opportunity, and there’s, ISO.

Dominic Townsend:  Absolutely. And then a lot of the standards now are all risk based and are built around that thought process.

Jim Dieter:  So. I really have been. It’s been a joy and a huge benefit to the ALN. You know, since you began to participate, ABS quality evaluations and and the others you know, parts of ABS have now joined. Oh, so what are they doing? We didn’t talk about that.

Dominic Townsend:  You know our parent company, is the classification society. We started our business off in the marine sector, making sure that organizations that operate in the in the sea are developing their their assets in a safe and environment way. And since then, we’ve built what’s called ABS Group and ABS Group is is a is a unique organization. It’s focused in not only the marine sector, but we’re very focused on the risk of reliability, cyber quality evaluations, which is our business assurance activities. So it’s an organization that really builds trust out into the marketplace of organizations that select us, really value that work that we do to make sure that they’re operating effectively, that if they’re providing a service, that it’s meeting certain expectations. So it’s really to provide trust out to the marketplace that organizations are operating effectively.

Jim Dieter:  Right, so you have the there’s the evaluation side, and then the other side is the consulting system side.

Dominic Townsend:  Yeah, it’s our consulting risk and reliability. We have a very large government practice and we do a lot of work with FEMA. So we just launched a cyber, cyber activity. So lots, a lot coming out with ABS Group, and we’re really excited about where the organization is going. We’re very focused, like I said, on on trust and really building some new market segments out and out in the world and our risk of reliability is a very core component of our of our activities as well.

Jim Dieter:  Well, so where I was starting to go before it, we did have a chance to talk about ABS a little bit more, was I think it’s, you know, it’s a really great example of what we’re trying to do with the ALN is getting as many people have heard me say, it’s we’re trying to attract members without offering a goody bag. You know, you go to the conference and you get the bag full of stuff and then you go, “What is this?”, but you know, the, you know, whether it’s freebies or whatever else. But we like to refer to, of course, the ALN as a vehicle, not a destination. And I think ABS has been able to really leverage that and take advantage of it. And I think the the fall event when we had ALN Espanol event that you were heavily involved in was a great example of that. You’d like to share anything about how that came together or, you know what, from what we wanted.

Dominic Townsend:  To focus on. That’s a good question. We wanted to really focus on activities outside of the U.S. to really get an understanding of how other organizations in the world are operating. And when you look at South America and Central America, they’ve been very active in asset management. Activities are two of our largest clients, which are in the utilities field really felt that the large benefits of implementing an asset management program, the infrastructures are getting old. They really wanted to make sure that their assets were properly maintained and and really making sure that they drive the lifecycle value out of them. So with them implementing this program, it’s really been a large benefit for those organizations and and groups in South America that have launched it. And we were really excited to highlight two clients that were able to do it, AES and …, both of them are very high profile clients of ours. We love partnering with them and they’re just great organizations that really see the benefit of management system programs and really implemented them effectively. And which kind of leads into the U.S. is that we’re hoping that now with the infrastructure bill passing and that a lot of organizations will start to get a lot of funding to develop and really start to revamp the infrastructure, particularly around the transportation market segments. It will really drive a lot of value in asset management activities into the next several years.

Jim Dieter:  That’s great. The. Sorry, that was my mind was in two places at once. That’s, it’s hard to do. I can’t talk and think at the same time.

Dominic Townsend:  The same sometimes.

Jim Dieter:  So from an ALN board perspective and we’re going to we’re really it’s great to have you on the board with a lot of experience and associations and and your business experiences is hugely valuable for those who don’t know. About two years ago, we went from just having to the elected officers that had been there since our founding have been in place. And we initiated a board of directors and it’s been a huge advantage to the ALN and it keeps keeps improving. But we meet. We were meeting monthly now we meet quarterly, we will provide more information about that to anybody that’s interested, But the board really is a decision making body for the ALN in terms of strategy and where we’re going and how we’re going to do it. So from that perspective, what do you what do you see as a board member for the for the ALN in 2022 and beyond?

Dominic Townsend:  Well, I you know, to me, the ALN has been involved for what, two years now. And I’ve seen it really grow over the last couple of years. And not only yourself, but all the members and the other board of directors. We’re very large advocates to really grow asset management activities. And you know what our our focus is and mission. But it’s we’re also looking at other institutions and governments that that we’ve been able to work with over the last several years. And I see our attendance growing and just on our webinars the last couple of years or last year, we had two of them, they had over 100 attendees. So it’s it’s just really encouraging to see that our messages are getting across. People are finding value and that we’re learning as a group as well as as we grow. So it’s it’s really been quite encouraging and it’s exciting to be a part of it.

Jim Dieter:  And it’s it’s a little challenging sometimes to, you know, getting back to offering the goodie bag as some some groups come to us and they go, Well, you have thousands of attendees and they go like, Well, we’re not really an asset management organization. We’re an asset leadership organization. We ran into the, you know, in a variety of different settings. I could go into a lot of detail, but people tend to, you know, coming from an asset management perspective, tended to bump their head on the ceiling, but they can’t get past that. The senior leaders really weren’t listening to, you know, asset management professionals in many cases, at least in the US. And that was, I think part of that was kind of a brilliant idea to come up with the name asset leadership and network connections. And it’s really increasingly dawning on us just how focused we are on that. In appealing to senior policy people, senior leaders of organizations, you know, rather than. So our guest list is usually more about who than how many, but large numbers are always really good too. No question about it. So, Mike, I was telling Mike Bordenaro he should host today because he had several ideas why we should be talking about so. Mike, you want to join us and and cover the spots that you were asked me to do that I didn’t get done so far or whatever.

Mike Bordenaro:  Thank you. And I’d like to say Happy New Year to everyone also and thank Dominic, you know, just like Jim said. So we had a…

Jim Dieter:  Oh wait, wait, I blew it. I blew it. This is my first opportunity to publicly, publicly say that as of the December ALN Board of Directors meeting Mike Bordenaro, or Bold-enaro, as we like to call him sometime. Finally agreed to give up his title of director of communications and an ex-officio member of the board of directors. And Mike is now the executive director of the Asset Leadership Network and a voting member of the board of directors. So here, here.

Mike Bordenaro:  Oh, thank you. That’s quite the honor. first time ever got voted into a position and it feels really good. And I promised to redouble my efforts I actually already have. And helping us achieve our mission of having an impact and helping organizations dramatically improve value from their assets and using a structured asset management approach is the best way to do that. And ISO 55,000 is the best structure we’ve seen so far, but we don’t care if you think your asset management system is, ask Charlie if that’s your structure, then follow your structure. Whatever it is.

Jim Dieter:  It’s a good one. I like that we can. We should use that.

Mike Bordenaro:  Yeah, but at the board meeting, Dominic, we talked about a lot of the upcoming activities and I wondered if anything now, you know, struck you. We’re introducing monthly roundtables in 2022. We’re going to start going to quarterly summits. What did you think…

Dominic Townsend:  You know, I think that, you know, we’re becoming much more active in different groups and institutions, and one of them is the Government Finance Officers Association with its 22,000 members. I mean it to me that getting involved in more of those industry associations and government groups will really stimulate the thought process behind asset management activities and really get organizations to think through it. And what those benefits are. So to me, those are the exciting things that we’re getting involved in. We also brought up the Federal Fleet Asset Management Group. So there’s some good things that we’ve been really focused on and really trying to get involved in those organizations to understand what they’re doing right, which allows us to see what we need to do to help them foster their activities and growth and make them better organizations such as ourselves.

Mike Bordenaro:  Yeah, thanks for bringing up the Government Finance Officers Association, we’ve got a really good relationship with them and we’re learning that we’re we’re very far ahead of them in terms of asset management and we’ve got to meet them at their level of what they’re ready to accept. So. You had mentioned the I think, American Chemical Association and.

Dominic Townsend:  The American Chemical Distributors Association. They’re located in Washington and, you know, they have their asset membership. Member group is very focused on distribution. So that’s one area that we also are going to be targeting in, especially, you know, managing their large chemical plants and the distribution of chemicals. So they have a lot of assets that they manage. So that’s another industry group that we want to focus on and see if we could develop.

Mike Bordenaro:  Yeah, compliance is a important value out of asset management, and chemical companies and distributors could probably really benefit from that. Then, Jim, at the board meeting, we talked about our. ALN Industry Asset Leadership Boards, and I was happy to hear you say that you think those are going well. What do you think about them in 2022?

Jim Dieter:  Well, it’s you know, we’ve had this, you know, emerging as an idea that over the last year or two, like has made it made it a reality. But it’s really an opportunity to take, you know, the we talked about asset leadership in the policy and, you know, more top management portion of asset management. And our overall broad approach to asset management is typically very broad concept, but allows us to bring the depth of working with in various industries, you know, talked about transportation. We talked about law enforcement. You know, the the part that we have to get right is, as Dominic mentioned, there’s already existing asset management groups there and we part of our foundational concepts are we don’t duplicate what other people are doing. We try to find ways to leverage and help make it better. And I think, you know, we’re we’re on solid ground now to, to bring more information. I think just the two examples we just talked about, we’re we’re right there just because the state municipal, the amount of assets owned by state municipal is I thought the federal government had a lot of assets, but, you know, state municipal.

Mike Bordenaro:  50 states and six territories that adds up.

Jim Dieter:  Yeah. So we’re. But the trick is we’re looking for organization sponsors, you know, for those boards, you know, to work together with the ALN and other members of those boards to, you know, promulgate the information and to bring, you know what, we bring the asset leadership portion and more information about asset management to those to those sectors and to develop the sector asset leadership strategies as part of it.

Mike Bordenaro:  Thank you for that segue because just before this program started to Moshe Nelson from Grant Thornton, called and said that his transportation colleagues at Grant Thornton want to start a sector asset leadership strategy for the transportation industry. Perfect year to do that with all the infrastructure spend coming up. So other organizations that are interested in joining in our Transportation Asset Leadership Board to help write that sector asset leadership strategy, please contact us and we’re going to be starting on that next week.

Jim Dieter:  All right, that’s good. Yeah, I’m talking to another major corporation about the state municipal angle getting involved and being part of an initiative both from the ALN, and of course, you know, that works hand-in-hand with our member organization. I mean, it’s different being a trade association than a member association. I think a lot more people have experience, of course, with professional associations and trade associations. But I was fortunate, you know, the several points along the way to be able to get involved with trade associations, you know, from a government contract perspective. And it’s, you know, it’s a powerful angle and but it’s a little different, a little different.

Mike Bordenaro:  So, Dominic, is there anything that you’re looking forward to working through the ALN to help ABS with there?

Dominic Townsend:  Of course, we want to continue to drive value for the ALN and, you know, not only to build business, but also to give our expertize and to really help organizations as become certified. You know, it’s to me, there’s a lot of benefits for organizations that do go 15 rounds and get certified towards ISO 55,000. And you know, we have some great clients. You know, we have the university health system. We have, you know, one of the largest airports in Atlanta, as well as our key clients down in South America. So again, we’re just excited about being part of it.

Mike Bordenaro:  Yeah, well, we really appreciate what you’ve brought in. I was really excited about the ALN espanol activities, and the owner representatives were excited about continuing, so that’s what I’m looking forward to doing with ABS Quality Evaluation is really building up that ALN espanol.

Jim Dieter:  That’s what I was the thought that I lost before when Dominic was talking about AES, we had participation early on a little bit and the U.S. tag from AES. And it was a gentleman named Mark Mueller who I think I think has since moved to Australia and maybe has moved on to something else. I don’t know. But, you know, I keep saying when I got involved in asset management. My, you know, the relevant analogy was I just feel like I had my blinders, you know, kept getting removed, I thought, Oh, now I see everything. And then I realize now I’m still in. I’m still not seen at all. And when I talked to Mark Mueller and realized that AES’s assets were utilities in countries around the world, they’re basically it’s like, Oh, that’s a big asset. Yeah. And that’s also plays into the idea of all assets are systems. You know, you can look at a a water utility as you know, the focus, and it has lots of assets. Or you can look at the water utility as the assets for, you know, a higher organizational perspective. Yeah. And then many of the assets, of course, of the, you know, the water utility can be broken down into their various component parts. So it’s it’s quite a complex and interesting field.

Dominic Townsend:  It is totally is.

Mike Bordenaro:  Well, thank you both for your comments today, Nick. I think you can come in and we can and right on time today. That’s a good way to start the year.

Jim Dieter:  Well, and time is good.

Nick Knoke:  Yeah. I just want to thank our patron members Definitive Logic, Onuma System, ABS Quality Evaluations, especially for Dominic’s participation on the board and here today on this program, and ABS Group, as well as our organizational members. And it’s a growing list. And if you’re out there and interested in working with the ALN, please reach out to any of us here. We would love to hear from you and figure out how we can bring value to your organization, ours and the world.

Jim Dieter:  And happy New Year to you, too, Nick.

Nick Knoke:  Oh, yeah, yeah. No, it’s been a great year so far. I’m looking forward to continuing the work we do and carrying on.

Mike Bordenaro:  We’ll have a lot of announcements this month because things are really moving quickly. We’re very excited and thank you all for attending. And have a good week until we see you next week.

Dominic Townsend:  Well, thank you, everyone. Happy New Year and be safe.