The Grand Rapids chapter of the National Association for Surface Finishing and the Detroit-based Michigan Association of Metal Finishers have merged to form the NASF Michigan Chapter in hopes of growing their membership and benefitting from being a larger group.
The organizations voted in March to unify, and the new group is working to write a charter, launch a website, consolidate its event calendar and elect a board this fall. “Both organizations were having to deal with the fact that they were starting to fall into dormancy,” says Jim Hankinson, who was president of GRNASF.
Facing a potential drain in energy and engagement, Hankinson says the benefits of merging the two groups became more attractive, since the unification brings experts from Grand Rapids’ focus on education and Detroit’s focus on advocacy issues in order to create “a greater pool of resources to bring on the local level—good quality speakers that attract the attention and activity of the local businesses.”
Talk of merging had already begun before the national NASF office approached the organizations about the idea of unifying under its charter. In fact, current Michigan Chapter Executive Director Erin Burns says that some members of the MAMF group were already traveling to the GRNASF’s educational events and vice versa, with other companies enjoying membership with both associations simultaneously.
With the goal of jumpstarting member engagement firmly in mind, Burns says the merger will encourage networking by bringing together job shops, larger companies and suppliers under one banner to learn best practices and gather updates on what’s going on not just in the neighborhood but also statewide. She says the consolidation of the event calendar is one of her top priorities. The Lansing Summit in October is expected to yield a large attendance because of its central location, with the North American International Auto Show in Detroit and the annual technical conference in Grand Rapids highly anticipated on 2015’s agenda, along with several other events.
Both the Grand Rapids and MAMF groups have chosen three delegates in order to form a six-member interim workgroup to write a new charter, decide on bylaws, develop a new website with the help of a consulting firm and create a new logo. After these tasks are completed, the membership will elect six board members, who will elect the chapter’s president. “Until we work together for a couple years, we’ll probably have a voice from each side on the board,” Burns says. “Because Detroit and Grand Rapids are such distinct markets, it makes sense to have a voice from both sides.”
Amid a general spirit of positivity and excitement, the new chapter has already seen some hoped-for growth. Hankinson says meeting attendance has increased tenfold in some locations, and some companies have rejoined that previously had dropped out of membership. Burns counts at least five new member companies joining recently.
“I think they’re seeing how effective we are and that it benefits them in various ways to be a member,” she says.
For more information, call 517-282-0631 or visit nasf.org/nasf-chapters.php.