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Your Business Commentary

Mike's often irreverent, thought-provoking analysis of the industry.

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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 knows?

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 reasonable?

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 mike@clnonline.com.)

xxx

 

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