06 FALL /WINTER 2022 The opening line in Pastor Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life is, “It is not about you.” The book goes on to talk about purpose, why each person was put on this earth. So, have you ever stopped to consider what your purpose might be? Why were you put on this planet? Why do you work for a certain company or organization? I am convinced everything happens for a reason, and that there is no such thing as coincidence. If you don’t believe me, take a minute and look back over your life, or even a specific unforgettable moment. Is what happened strictly coincidence or part of a larger plan? As for me, becoming the President of the Virginia Asphalt Association (VAA) was never in the cards. When I was in high school, I planned to become an accountant, since a professional golfer would clearly never happen. It wasn’t until the summer after I graduated from high school that I switched to engineering—at the urging of my dad, a Virginia Tech Civil Engineering graduate. Dad told me, “Go to college and challenge yourself.” During my four years in Blacksburg, I was certainly challenged (try being the only engineer in an apartment with three business majors!). I was interested in building vertical structures, though much of my summer work experience was in site development, surveying and working in the Materials Division of the Northern Virginia District of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). By 1993, the economy sunk and finding jobs was tough. VDOT was one option, but they were in a hiring freeze. Finally, after sending out dozens of resumes, I got an interview with a pavement consulting firm in Maryland. Besides pushing a profilograph on I-66, picking up concrete cores from patching projects on I-66 and watching density testing, I knew nothing about pavement. But I got the job, and the rest is history. Looking back over nearly 30 years, how I got to this role was part of a bigger plan and purpose I could not have imagined. For us at VAA, our purpose is tied to our mission: “To promote the increased use and quality of asphalt pavement in Virginia.” The association’s purpose goes back to its founding by a group of asphalt contractors in 1952. Back then, promotion of the industry was essential. So was quality. Today, we look at the activities and actions of the association through the same lens by asking two simple questions. One, does this promote the increased use of asphalt? Two, does this activity improve quality? While not every activity affirmatively answers both questions, proposed or approved activities must answer at least one. This November, the VAA hosted a “Back to Basics” workshop with VDOT and the Virginia Transportation Research Council (VRTC), toward increasing the quality of asphalt pavement. The workshop focused on basic lab testing—maximum specific gravity, bulk specific gravity, aggregate gradation and AC content—because if these tests cannot be performed correctly, then all other calculations are meaningless. Presenters from the VAA, VTRC, VDOT and the National Center for Asphalt Technology (NCAT) all demonstrated testing under SUPERPAVE™ PRESIDENT’S PERSPECTIVE What Is Your Purpose? Trenton M. Clark, PE, President, Virginia Asphalt Association criteria for volumetric acceptance and balanced mix-design. This workshop was a great example of an unexpected, but necessary, item on the VAA 2022 business plan, and we were happy to put together the workshop and deliver on our purpose. We are continuing to fulfill both purposes of the association this winter, including, of course, the fourth Mid-Atlantic Asphalt Expo and Conference (MAAE), where exhibitors will showcase their products and services that will strengthen the asphalt industry. We always look forward to hosting this event, which promotes the positive and exceptional aspects of asphalt while emphasizing quality through technical sessions. Next, in 2023, the VAA will launch a new training and education program for plant technicians and mix designers through Germanna Community College (See “VECAT Continues to Evolve” on page 32). Over seven weeks, attendees will learn the basics of design and testing from industry experts, from proper procedures to analyzing results. It will be open to VAAmember employees, non-members, VDOT employees and students. In looking back, our purpose at the VAA has expanded, now encompassing a vision concerned with “the betterment of society.” What does this mean? Simply that we want to leave this earth better than we found it. Our actions and decisions have meaning and intentionality beyond ourselves. We will continue to push forward with initiatives that question the status quo— changing not for the sake of change, but to improve along the way. Our purpose is clear. I hope yours is too. Stay safe!