The Impact of Champions of Fusion

By Dave Hughes
Vice President - McElroy Global Sales

You may have seen McElroy’s “Champions of Fusion” on Facebook or other social media platforms, but we rarely talk about the “why” behind this particular award – and, for that matter, the other awards we provide our end users, channel partners and others.

Dave Hughes

Let’s start with the Champions of Fusion. This award recognizes “end users,” the equipment operators in the field, who have shared with the world through social media pictures of themselves, McElroy equipment and a little bit of the job at hand. There is a small group, led by PR Specialist Larissa Copeland and International Sales and Marketing Manager Rafael Quintero, that reviews each entry submitted to the Champions of Fusion website. From there, a larger team meets to discuss qualified entries and then select the winners.

Once a year, about this time, we select the Grand Prize winners from the pool of winners during the year. Each Grand Prize winner gets an all-expense paid trip to Tulsa for INFUSION. Past winners have come from Australia, Chile, Mexico, Pakistan, England, and of course, the United States.

Here is where the magic of the Champions of Fusion comes in. These operators embody our mission of “making the world a better place one project at a time.” It is their stories, their lives, and their projects that need a voice in this world. They are truly the unsung heroes.

Think about the significance of their opinion. When you go to buy a car, whose opinion matters the most – the sales person, the marketing brochure, the advertising, or your friend who owns one and can’t stop talking about how great it is? Of course, it’s your friend. Everyone else has a vested interest in “selling” you this car, but your friend is just a believer. These people are often referred to a “brand ambassadors,” but we like to say they bleed green.

McElroy’s inaugural Champions of Fusion grand prize winners were David Atherdeen (Jag Poly – Australia), Jose Cuevas Torres (EMIN – Chile), and Eleazar Garza (EnviroCon – USA).

As a secondary benefit, HDPE – and, more recently, Polypropylene pipe – are still trying to gain market share from the incumbent piping materials of Ductile Iron, PVC and steel piping. So, as the pipe goes through its early stages of product adoption life cycle curve (Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, and then Laggards) it is important to show the success of other users. Each stage needs confirmation from the previous stage that they are making the right decision.

Shifting from the business reason for having Champions of Fusion, the human side of this story is what really resonates with me. We always try to make sure that it is a field operator who gets the “free” trip to Tulsa. For a lot of these people, it may be their first time out of their country, the first time to have company paid trip, and for sure the first time to be recognized in front of over 400 leaders of our industry. We have had several of them become emotional on stage, and one that told me that their award day was the second-best day of their life, second to only the birth of their first child.

Now that is rarefied air.

Celebrating the success of those around us is part of the DNA of the McElroy culture. In addition to Champions of Fusion, we also recognize legends of our industry through the Fusion Hall of Fame. This year we will unveil their names at INFUSION24, but we are recognizing both the founders of a channel partner and a retired McElroy employee. Annually, we award about 10 recipients of the Panny McElroy Scholarship. And of course, we recognize those Channel Partners that have gone above and beyond with the President’s Award.

All of these things culminate into an ecosystem that helps us not only preach our philosophy, but embody it as well. At the end of the day, we are committed to building up the world’s infrastructure, while also empowering and honoring the people who help us live that dream.