Meet Jimmy Brothers, President of the 2010-2011 ICC Board

By Felicia Oliver, Editor, Building Safety Journal Online

ICC Board President Jimmy Brothers
New ICC Board President Jimmy Brothers at the Code Council's Annual Business Meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina, this past October.
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Jimmy Brothers is the newly elected president of the International Code Council (ICC) Board of Directors. He is the Director of the Decatur, Alabama, Building Department. I had a chance to speak with Brothers a few weeks after his election at ICC's Annual Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Q. What does becoming president of the ICC Board of Directors mean to you?

A. I had this goal [of becoming ICC Board President] about 15 years ago, and it was at the time a real stretch goal for me. And it wasn’t really brought back into focus for me until about five years ago. The more I became intrigued with serving on the Board, the more interested I became in seeking the leadership position.

Q. So the more you got a taste for it the more you wanted to get involved?

A. That’s pretty much it. It’s a complex and intricate organization. And I like a challenge. I try to learn and master as much of it as I possibly can... So this has been quite a journey, one that, looking back over my career, I’m very satisfied has been accomplished. I’m grateful for the opportunity.

Q. What are your top priorities in the next year as ICC Board President?

A. My number one focus is to try to explore enhanced membership participation opportunities. The development of codes and the training and education necessary to get our code official membership up to speed is becoming more difficult and complex in that, of course, our economic resources are not what they once were. And due to the fact that more and more of our attention is focused on our day-to-day jobs, [because] we have lost a significant number of employees in our profession, [we are] presented challenges that we have not seen in the past as far as having our code officials participate in the activities of the Council. So that pretty much is my number one focus.

Behind that, I would say to further develop and enhance the relationships we have with our strategic partners and our participating partners that are outside of the organization. They may be members on another level other than governmental members, but I want to make sure that the value of those relationships is clearly understood, and how those relationships can be further enhanced in pursuit of the mission of the Code Council.

Thirdly, I’m very interested in the personal development of our members, as far as [what] their skill sets and tool sets as code officials are, and what they need to become more valuable to their employers.

Q. You're speaking in terms of training and development?

A. Seminars, training, education, support of chapter activities. Again, this is a challenge, given the economic climate in which we find ourselves. Nonetheless, it’s still one that demands a lot of our attention and focus.

Q. What excites you the most about being a code official right now?

A. Actually, it has a much to do as anything else with the advent of our relevancy to the world in sustainability and energy conservation. It’s opening up new opportunities for our influence to be manifest in the public arena of ideas. We may be sitting at the crossroads, where the intersection of all the ideas of implementation relative to sustainability come together.

Q. What do you do to relax/have fun?

A. I love to play golf, although I don’t get to play nearly as much golf and I would like to, or what I used to, because of my job responsibilities and more so now with my Council responsibility. I love to fish. I live on the Tennessee River, so all I have to do to go fishing, which is almost every day, is go down to my dock and get on my boat and I’m in the environment to fish. And I love to read. I’m very interested in politics and foreign affairs. ... I get a lot of enjoyment out of studying those things.

Q. Is there a particular book you are reading now?

A.All the Devils Are Here: [The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis, by Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera]. I just began that. [It’s about] what caused the financial crisis. It’s an in-depth explanation and analysis of how this happened. And ….[another book] by Robert Reich. He was Clinton’s Secretary of Labor. I actually ordered a copy for me and a copy for [ICC CEO] Rick Weiland. So I’m going to try to get Rick to read a book about something other than business. But Rick and I talk a lot about politics, and we really enjoy talking. During a conversation we had recently, he said, yes, I’m interested in Robert Reich. So I bought Rick the book.

But the biggest joy I get out of life right now…is my grandchildren, one of whom was with us in Charlotte (at ICC's Annual Conference and Business Meeting, where Brothers was elected President of the Board), and she was actually on stage during the swearing in. And I have two grandsons who live in Birmingham, so I don’t get to see them as much as [I see] my granddaughter. But I am very much my happiest when I’m with my grandchildren... They are all seven years and under at this point. They keep “Pop” hopping. That’s what they call me, Pop. And the boys, of course, we like to play football. So at my age to get out there with those little kids is a lot of fun. 

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