irreverent, thought-provoking analysis of the industry-- with an
occasional guest columnist.
An Opportunity for CHA To Grow
Provided we all work together.
by Peter Heinsimer, Westlake Associates
(June 6, 2011)
(Note: Peter has been in the industry
for many year and worn many hats – retail buyer, manufacturer,
consultant, and trade association board member. He has seen numerous
trends, people, companies, and trade associations come and go.)
With the CEO leaving CHA and with a search for
someone new to lead the association, it's a great opportunity for
everyone in the industry to re-focus as a group on the potential and
go-forward opportunities for our industry.
Not taking anything away from the management of
CHA or the dedication of our volunteer board, but we all know
that there is always more that can be done.
After many years of strong growth, we have seen
the size of our industry decline the last few years. I have heard
many valid reasons for it, but, to many of us, it is
just unacceptable to passively go backwards.
It is the job of all of us to see past the
problems and work together to excite consumers, to give them the
inspiration, motivation, and education they need to fulfill their
creative desires -- and therefore buy more of our products. In the
past, it has always been the members working together to move
forward in times of trouble; we did not rely on the CHA staff alone
to solve the problems. Instead, we worked together to carry out the
concepts developed by the members, staff, and board.
I suggest CHA embark on an all-encompassing,
360-degree review of what has happened the last few years to
understand what has been a positive influence and what has stifled
CHA has tried many different programs and
concepts the last few years. When any organization does this, it
should not be expected that all of them will work. It is crucial
that the organization builds on its successes and at the same time
realizes that when something is not achieving the goals, change is
required. The world is changing too fast to ever sit still and think
we will not fall behind.
It seems to me that since CHA went
to the CEO format from an Executive Director, some of the changes
instituted were more of a business management process, with less
focus on association management building. Different sets of
accountability were instituted and again, while most may have
worked, there appear to be some that need to be revisited (with
hindsight being 20/20 and not looking to lay blame).
In addition, it seems like more outside
companies were contracted to work to build CHA, rather than using
all the talent within the membership. Part of this seemed to be
fewer members were asked to volunteer their expertise.
With overall industry sales declining, new
approaches are probably warranted. One area that seems to have been
reduced is the committee concept that had been an important part of
the industry for many years. I get the feeling committees were
replaced by more staff and outside consultants and, while they may
have extensive expertise in various fields, they had a learning
curve regarding our industry's idiocyncries.
Perhaps the committee concept had grown too
large, but the idea of involving volunteer members who possessed the
right skill sets to tackle important issues served us well. I think
that might help with some of the issues facing the industry today.
Anyway, my suggestion is we all work together
to take this opportunity to build the industry to its full
potential. If there is a good, 360-degree review, I know and hope
you will all agree that we can work together to support CHA and work
together to move everything forward.
Going backwards is not acceptable.
With all the changes going on in the world and
with it getting smaller every day, the future should be brighter
than ever for our industry.
After Peter sent this article to CLN,
CHA's board announced the formation of a search committee to find a
replacement for Steve Berger. The committee consists of Chair Mark
Peters (iLoveToCreate); Mike Birkholm (Darice); Riddi Kline
(Jo-Ann); Alice Beas (Crafty Productions); Craig Curtis
(Petersen-Arne); and Larry Olliges (Dee's Crafts).
After reading that announcement, Peter wrote,
"With the group on the committee, we should be in great shape.
Couldn't ask for a better group."