irreverent, thought-provoking analysis of the industry.
Personal Thoughts On ACCI/HIA
Why bother combining associations?
by Mike Hartnett (September, 2003)
Two people whose opinions I respect are cautious about the
proposed unification of ACCI and HIA. They fear that the new
association will become lazy without competition. After all, ACCI
was started in part because the HIA board was comprised of hobby
companies (plastic model kits, model railroading, etc.) who were
ignoring the needs of the craft members.
Could history repeat itself? The theory is that a sense of
competition between ACCI and HIA keeps both associations on their
toes. It's a valid concern.
Sure, that's a danger down the road. With a board comprised of
people from the old associations, however, I don't see that
happening in the near future. But what about 10 years from now? Who
The lack of competition may hurt us some time in the future, but the
current competition hurts us now. One drawback is obvious: most
companies are forced to pay two membership dues. A more serious
problem is less obvious.
For example, a couple of years ago, at ACCI I attended a business
seminar conducted by T. Scott Gross, author of Outrageous
Customer Service and other books. He was fabulous: excellent
speaker, useful advice, etc. The best business speaker I've heard
before or since.
At an HIA Education Committee meeting a few months later, I
suggested Gross as a speaker for the next HIA show. An HIA staffer,
now an ex-HIA staffer, scoffed and said, "Why on earth would we
want him? ACCI used him."
Gee, I dunno, maybe because he was a great speaker and his fee was
It's that kind of competitive nonsense that will be eliminated.
1 + 1 = 3.
My greatest hope is that we combine the best of both worlds into the
new association. HIA does some things the industry needs, such as
Size of Industry studies, the branding campaign, and consumer public
relations. ACCI has a much better website, is far less bureaucratic,
and has always seemed to be more concerned about the little guy.
The challenge the members of the unification task force have faced
is minor compared to what's ahead for the new board. If the eventual
bottom line is only that members save a few bucks on dues, the task
force has wasted its time.
But we won't fail. At the task force meetings, my fellow ACCI
members, Jim Scatena and Emma Gebo, and I look across the table at
the HIA representatives -- Jim Bremer, Ron LaRosa, and Mike McCooey.
In effect, we see ourselves. Jim Scatena and I once served on the
HIA board; Ron and Mike once served on the ACCI board.
So the bottom line is, we're all ... us. We always have been.
(Note: Have any thoughts on the unification process? Email
them to firstname.lastname@example.org.)