Hoover receives IABO's first Building Official of the Year Award.
Ron Hoover, right, receives the first Building Official of the Year Award from Mike Pardekooper, president of the Iowa Association of Building Officials. A former, two-term ICC Board Member, he also already has received the state's top award for fire officials.
At some point during the Iowa Association of Building Officials' (IABO) annual meeting, there usually will be some tongue-in-cheek awards given, and a few members called out jokingly for some minor indiscretions. But when IABO President Mike Pardekooper started reading off the qualifications for the recipient of the organization's first Building Official of the Year Award, a lightbulb went off for former ICC Board Member Ron Hoover.

"I said, 'Hey, that's me!'" recalled Hoover, Director of Building Services for Marion, Iowa, a suburb of Cedar Rapids. "I was totally surprised."

That was the plan, said Pardekooper, building/fire code official for the city of Pleasant Hill, Iowa. "We wanted to keep it a secret, not only from Ron, but for the entire membership.

"Ron was an easy choice. It wasn't even close. He has gone above and beyond nationally and here in Iowa."

Announcing the award at this year's Jan. 14 event, Pardekooper noted Hoover's service during two, three-year terms on the ICC Board, completed just last year, as well as service as a member and president of IABO, the Hawkeye State Fire Safety Association and numerous other organizations.

Not only is Hoover also an ICC Master Code Professional, but he is among a handful of building officials who also serve as a fire official. If that's not rare enough, Hoover received Iowa's Fire Official of the Year Award in 2012; likely one of the few to receive top honors from two such state organizations.

So shocked was he with the IABO award that the usually outspoken Hoover "just sort of mumbled and stumbled" as friends and his proud wife Julie looked on.

Hoover was especially gratified to hear one part of his award introduction. Pardekooper noted that he "is a role model and mentor for many sitting in this room tonight, and always has a certain twist for any code question presented."

Hoover said his favorite time as an ICC Board Member was when new board members, or just fellow code officials, asked his advice. "That was really nice," he said. "I enjoyed mentoring."

But two terms on the board were enough, he said. Seeking higher office would have taken away from his day job and his organizational duties in Iowa.

After a 22-year career in residential construction, Hoover joined the city of Marion in 1990 in a dual role of combination inspector and engineering technician. As Marion began to grow in population, Hoover moved to the Building Inspection Department full-time and was named Director in 1998. He also joined the volunteer fire department in Alburnett, where he resides, in 1983.

Hoover and his fellow code enforcement officials displayed their commitment to public safety following the Iowa Flood of 2008, a month-long event dubbed "Iowa's Katrina" that caused an estimated $7 billion in damages and ranks as the fourth-largest natural disaster in U.S. history.

In his spare time, Hoover stays busy while away from the office by spending time with family members, especially his grandchildren, fishing and woodworking. He is also a Certified Fireworks Shooter and dabbles in brewing vintage wine and beer.

Although initially tongue-tied receiving his award, Hoover, ever the mentor, offered some advice to those in the audience.

"Finally, I think I said something like, I am no better than anyone else out there," he said. "I was just lucky enough to take advantage of some opportunities when they were presented to me. I urged everyone to take advantage of those opportunities when they come up."