Building One, United Association

By Ken Garner
In July 14, 2014

By the time this is published, your association team will be well into the seventh month of merger management. Let me take this opportunity to provide you with an update related to the progress we have made and what we see as major items yet to be completed.

First, the past seven months have been characterized by a significant amount of work, some visible to you and much “behind the curtain” related to administrative functions. Here is a partial list of some of the more notable accomplishments –

  • We successfully combined financial management and accounting functions.
  • Combined all H/R policies and functions.
  • Built a marketing team and created a disciplined, centralized approach to marketing that includes measurement of all our major marketing functions.
  • We established overall business goals, metrics and a measurement process that is reviewed on a weekly basis.
  • We planned and executed a number of combined membership events including two conferences and a major presence at the National Postal Forum.
  • We have begun the process of re-igniting our Chapter structure and related meetings.
  • We launched our newly designed monthly magazine, “Bottom Line”.
  • We combined the formerly separate community forums into a single forum representing all member segments.

Of course, this partial list was accomplished while staff tended to all of the normal and routine responsibilities that are part of association life. New products and service proposals were evaluated, the Business Advisory Group continued to deliver value through their consulting engagements, our advocacy work on Capitol Hill continued, work with senior Postal Service leadership continued, educational contend was created and delivered… you get  the picture.

So, what have we learned and what do we now know needs to move to the top of the “to do list”?  Perhaps the biggest challenge we have faced has been related to building one, united association. Your Board and staff have been sensitive to the emotional ties that each of our primary membership segments have to their legacy organizations. We created the “puzzle piece” logo that preserved the legacy brands of our formerly independent associations. We retained many of the former brand identities related to specific product and service offerings. It is now clear that while this well-intentioned strategy helped to address some early concerns it also created some unintended consequences that now pose a serious threat to our ability to effectively move forward.  In short, our sensitivity to this issue has prevented us from effectively moving forward as a single organization. We do not have the resources to run three separate organizations Feedback from staff, the industry, our vendor partners, and even many of you has indicated the need to take the necessary steps to eliminate the clumsy and confusing “alphabet soup” that we currently use to identify ourselves. We need to move forward in a clear and decisive manner.

So, following staff’s recommendation, your Board of Trustees approved a decision to rebrand our association with a fresh and compelling name, logo, and tagline. This will help to unite our association, and clarify to our members, staff, and industry who we are and why we exist. This will not change our commitment to understanding the wants, needs and expectations of our different membership segments. We remain committed to developing and delivering value that is customized and tailored to address these uniquely different expectations.

We are currently developing a detailed plan that will include the services of an outside professional firm that has a successful track record in leading re-branding initiatives. We anticipate announcing our new brand at Graph Expo this coming September.

Of course, we always encourage your input and feedback. We want this process to be as transparent as possible. Please don’t hesitate to let us know your thoughts, concerns, and questions. With your support and commitment we will take the next important step in building one, united association.

Ken Garner

President & CEO Ken Garner joined Epicomm – then the Association of Marketing Service Providers – in November 2008 as its President and CEO after a 33 year career in the printing industry – all with the same company. He joined United Litho, a heatset web magazine printing company, after receiving his undergraduate degree. Working his way up the corporate ladder from janitor/delivery driver he held a variety of jobs including V.P of Operations and V.P. of Sales and Marketing. He spent the last 12 years of his printing career as United Litho’s president. In 1994, he engineered the sale of the company to the Sheridan Group and became a member of its Leadership Team.

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