Global Fastener News

1997 FIN – NFDA Selects Merrifield as New Executive

January 15
00:00 2014


January 2, 1997 FIN – He has been directing an international professional associations with 3,000 members and a staff of 12. But Dave Merrifield is delighted to be downsizing to a trade association with 222 members and one assistant because he wants a more personal role with the association he manages.
In announcing Merrifield would be the next executive vice president of the National Fastener Distribution Association chairman Mark Alexander said the ability to develop a personal, friendly relationship with members is one of the qualities that the selection committee was seeking.
Merrifield, who started in association management six years ago after a military career, succeeds Ken Dickson, who died of cancer in September after six years directing the NFDA.
Merrifield will wrap up his duties and move from Des Moines, Iowa, to the new NFDA office in Cleveland, Ohio, by late February.
“We were looking for someone to be a leader in the industry,” Alexander told Fastener Industry News. “We wanted someone who could stand up and explain the NFDA position. We want aggressive leadership.”
Alexander described Merrifield as “one of those guys who comes in offering a lot of ideas about what we could do. He is sociable and will get along well with our member. Dave will be a visible type person.”
Merrifield demonstrates his personal touch by quickly asking to be called “Dave” instead of “David M. Merrifield.”
Merrifield told FIN the NFDA’s personnel as in an association executive’s magazine interested him because it sounded like he could have direct contact with members. As executive director of the International Association of Milk, Food & Environment Sanitarians his contact with members around the world was “remote, other than occasional meetings with the board.”
Merrifield termed the NFDA role as “a fresh beginning” as the distribution group moves from New Jersey back to its roots in Cleveland.
In addition to new offices and the new executive, the association will have a new assistant to be chosen by Merrifield.
“It will be a brand new start with the opportunity to develop my own style and staff,” Merrifield said. “There are things I will change, and there are things that are working well as is.”

Specifications & Maintenance
As a helicopter pilot in Vietnam Merrifield learned the importance of “not just bolts being up to specification but the maintenance crew applying the correct torque. It was absolutely critical for safety.”
“We used to refer to our helicopter as ‘one million parts flying in formation'”
Merrifield, who holds a bachelors and masters degrees from the University of Southern California, retired as an Army lieutenant colonel in 1991. He cited a three-years NATO assignment in the Netherlands, aviation research and development, teaching military science (“better known as ROTC,'” he explained) at the University of Northern Iowa, and combat experience in Vietnam as the highlights of his 23-year military career.
After retiring from the military he led the Iowa Chiropractors Association for four years and then headed as association which he defined as “food safety professionals.”
His association experience includes administration and budget, upgrading computer systems, training in OSHA regulations, increasing membership and association income and strategic planning.
Merrifield’s spouse, Lynn Merrifield, is a registered nurse and publications specialist. They have a daughter who is an insurance associative executive, a son in college in Chicago, a son in the Army, and a daughter in high school.
Merrifield said the move to Cleveland is no problem because the family members “as Army brats are used to moving.”

Vaughan, Langholz & Dickson
Merrifield emerged from 150 applicants plus inquiries from association management firms to become the association’s fourth full-time director since it was founded in 1968.
Gordon Vaughn was the first executive during the 70’s. He was succeeded in 1976 by Mary Ann Langholz, who led the association until she retired in 1990.
Alexander said the selection committee was happy with all four finalists who were brought to Cleveland December 14 for interviews with the entire committee. Preliminary interviews of 30 applicants were conducted by committee members around the country. Fellow Iowan and former NFDA chairman Ed McIlhon conducted the initial interview with Merrifield.
It was a diverse group with candidates coming from everywhere,” Alexander said.
Langholz, who lives in Columbus, Ohio, said her advice to the new NFDA leader is “to be flexible. Being flexible is a great asset in that position.”
Carolyn Fox, who was Dickson’s assistant and has been acting director since his death, will assist in the transition and the NFDA spring meeting April 16-20 in Scottsdale, Arizona.  ©1997/2014 Fastener Industry News.
For information on permission to reuse or reprint this article please e-mail:

Related Articles


No Comments Yet!

There are no comments at the moment, do you want to add one?

Write a comment

Only registered users can comment.

error: Content is protected !!