Global Fastener News

2012 FIN – NFDA Seeks to Assemble Industry Wide Organization

September 23
00:00 2013

November 19, 2012 FIN – The National Fastener Distributors Association wants to bring the industry together with one national organization … and that may be a new group under a new name “without any possible baggage.”

NFDA task forces spent the summer “brainstorming” on concepts for the future of the distribution organization that could win member and industry support.
“We want to end up with an industry that is united,” NFDA president Jay Queenin declared at the association’s autumn meeting. “We want to elevate the industry.”
Joe Greenslade, director of engineering technology for the manufacturing-oriented Industrial Fasteners Institute, told NFDA members at the meeting that he personally has “long urged a greater unification of all fastener suppliers. There is value in all pulling together.”

The alternative is “fragmenting resources,” Greenslade noted.
For example, the IFI has a consulting firm in Washington DC that monitors legislation for fastener manufacturer interests. Segments of the industry retaining separate lobbyists increases costs to each group, Greenslade pointed out.

A new national group could continue current regional associations as chapters. The organization could include all segments of the fastener industry – steel and machinery suppliers, manufacturers, master distributors, importers, distributors and reps.

Queenin envisions a national group as “an environment where business owners and stakeholders can create a community, which includes the supplier base.”
A variety of forms are being considered, including industry organizations continuing local meetings, but joining together for national events, such as a joint conference in conjunction with the Mid-West Fastener Association’s trade shows.
Within the fastener industry there is precedent for associations joining together.

In 2009 the Los Angeles Fastener Association and the Western Association of Fastener Distributors combined to become the Pacific-West Fastener Association. Pac-West continues to have the Southern California-based dinner meetings that LAFA featured and the autumn and spring resort conferences WAFD featured.
But unification can be challenging, as witnessed in the months leading up to Pac-West’s formation.
For years the LAFA and WAFD had the same executive director, but it took several tries over years before formally coming together in 2009. In the end the new association officially stressed the term “unification” rather than the obvious descriptive word “merger.”
Advocates of a broader national fastener organization frequently point to the Specialty Tools & Fasteners Distributors Association as the blueprint. With its trade show revenue, STAFDA provides more member benefits and has never raised dues.  In addition to a national convention, STAFDA holds regional meetings.

During its 44-year history, the NFDA has mostly relied on an executive director. From 1997 to 2005, the NFDA was located next door to the IFI’s headquarters in Cleveland. In 2006 the NFDA turned to an association management firm, Chicago-based SmithBucklin.
Earlier this year the NFDA retained Pac-West’s executive director, Vickie Lester, to also manage NFDA.
The NFDA then set its autumn meeting in Scottsdale, AZ, just preceding the Pac-West conference. The NFDA’s closing reception and Pac-West’s opening reception were held together.
Lester attended the recent IFI autumn meeting … “partially to create direct communication” and to discuss ways for associations to work together.

The NFDA meeting was facilitated by Mark Alcorn of Alcorn & Associates, who counseled the LAFA and WAFD in the unification process.
The NFDA meeting drew 20 members from 17 companies plus Pac-West and IFI representatives.
During the summer of 2012, NFDA created several task forces to consider the future of the organization.
Goals include having 150 active members by the end of 2013, finding a non-dues revenue stream by 2014 and have NFDA member networks with seven other associations in 2015.
Task force recommendations include:

• The public policy task force suggests the NFDA be the “national voice in policy matters that impact our members.”  It could “give all fastener distributors a voice,” inform members of new legislation or regulations and other information.

• The Alliances Task Force advocated the NFDA “working with other fastener associations to strengthen our industry.”

“All of the associations seem to be shrinking,” the task force noted. Alliances would use economies of scale from “one strong national organization to use our combined leverage.”

• The member benefits task force wants the NFDA to provide tools to members to increase profitability. A Fastener Advisory Board would share best practices, financial information.

The NFDA could have separate “constituencies” such as distributor owners, associate owners, executives.

“The NFDA needs to meet the needs of small/mid-sized member companies through more technical training and shared human resources services as well as other services, such as credit/collections, web page development.

• NFDA would have a representative on standards organizations committees and be a “vehicle for members” with standards issues.
• The next NFDA meeting will be June 12-14, 2013, in Chicago/Rosemont in conjunction with the June 10-12 Fastener Tech trade show.
• The NFDA will have executive retreats.  Former president Ed McIlhon is planning a NFDA executive retreat to Hawaii.
• The NFDA will continue to participate in international events such as the February 26-28, 2013, Fastener Fair Stuttgart, the April 11-13, 2013, International Fastener Show in Taiwan, and a show in China. ©2012


Editor’s Note: For background on industry attempts to consolidate associations, click on the Fastener History section of for: 2000 FIN – Perspective: A Renewed Form of Consolidation? Ruetz sees an advantage of some form of consolidation as eliminating the cost of redundancies.

Related Links:

• National Fastener Distributors Association

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