Fond Farewell

Julie Ruth
January 25, 2018
COLUMN : Code Arena | Codes & Standards

Editor’s Note: While Window & Door will continue to report on the codes and standards that are relevant to the fenestration community, this is the last installation of Code Arena by Julie Ruth. We thank her for her informative columns over the years and wish her much happiness in her retirement. Enjoy this farewell from the true professional who helped our manufacturers and dealers stay on top of the codes that affect our industry.  

Thirty years ago, I was fired for refusing to work on a Saturday.

I understood that there were 2,000 storefront anchors that had been misfabricated. I understood the contractor needed calculations that showed which anchors could still be used as fabricated, and which needed to be corrected and what that correction should be. I also understood those corrections needed to be made and all the anchors needed to be in place by the time the nine concrete trucks came to pour the slab on Monday morning.

But Saturday was also my son’s second birthday. We had a small family party planned and I didn’t want to be one of those parents who said, “Sorry sweetie, my job is more important than you.”

So, I did the calculations that were needed, figured out what needed to be done, left the contractor a message indicating what that was, wrote everything up and placed it on my boss’s desk with a note telling him to please call me if he had any questions. (My boss and the contractor had both left for the day several hours earlier.) Then I went home.

We had a nice party for my son. I didn’t hear from my boss all weekend. When I went to work on Monday morning, he fired me. I thought, Lord, I need a job that is not going to conflict with my commitment to my family.

When I received the job offer as a staff engineer with the International Code Council’s legacy agency Building Officials and Code Administrators Evaluation Services, it seemed like an answer to that prayer. The job was close to home with a seven-hour workday that did not require any evening or weekend hours. It also provided a generous vacation, sick leave and a personal day policy. Moreover, I saw it as an opportunity to use whatever gifts and talents the good Lord had given me to serve others.

Then, 17 and a half years ago, Rich Walker approached me about doing code work for the American Architectural Manufacturers Association. Although my children were older at that time, I was still concerned about not allowing my job to take me away from them too much. I saw this as an opportunity to return to the industry I started in—the industry that brings light and the outdoors into buildings. I agreed. 

The time has come for me to step out of the code arena. Thirty-seven years of either sitting at a desk performing calculations by hand or at a computer, on a conference call, in a meeting or on the road has taken its toll. I have had way too many days of little to no exercise, rushed or rich meals and, perhaps, one or two too many drinks. Now, that same son and his brother have expressed concern about my health. I promised them I would do what I could to address it. 

I find myself reflecting upon the 30 years I have spent in the code arena. I think about all the people I have had the privilege to get to know—to work with, to share ideas, thoughts and laughter, and every now and then, a drink or two. 

I think about the places I have been, which now includes all 50 states. I think about the events I have attended and the activities I have participated in that I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to experience. And, I have come to realize what a blessing it has all been. (Not to mention, what a favor my boss who fired me 30 years ago did for me.)

I want to thank Rich Walker, and all the AAMA staff, for putting up with me, and my quirks and stubbornness, these past 17 years. I want to thank the ICC for the opportunity to play in their arena. And, I want to thank you for taking the time to read my column and for the feedback I have received from some of you over the years. I wish you good health and happiness in 2018 and beyond. 

Code Arena is brought to you by the America Architectural Manufacturers Association. Julie Ruth may be reached through AAMA at 847/303-5664 or via e-mail at