Consolidation’s the Right Thing


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It’s hard to believe I’ve been involved in the finishing industry for a year now. I’ve learned quite a bit about the industry and finishing technologies over the past 12 months and there’s a lot more to learn.

Being a newbie, I’ve been quiet on a topic that should be of importance to just about everyone involved in the North American finishing industry: consolidation of the current industry associations into a single organization. Historically, there have been three main associations representing various segments of the North American surface finishing industry: the American Electroplaters and Surface Finishers Association (AESF), the National Association of Metal Finishers (NAMF), and the Metal Finishers’ Suppliers Association (MFSA). Each organization has a slightly different membership and focus, but it’s time now for the three existing organizations to put aside differences and focus on how best to serve their memberships.

Going forward, that will be best done as a single, united organization. Such a streamlined organization would reflect the consolidation that’s taken place in the finishing industry in the past few years and would enable all segments of the finishing industry to speak with one voice to promote the domestic finishing industry.

This idea is reflected in the proposed mission statement of the consolidated organization, which will be called the National Association for Surface Finishing (NASF): the promotion and advancement of the North American Surface Finishing Industry globally. NASF will include institutional, individual and corporate members and will reach out to captive shops, which have been under-represented in the three existing organizations. A single association will also provide a unified voice when it comes to dealing with legislators and regulators—something that was not necessary when these
associations were formed.

The idea of consolidation has been kicked around for a long time now. More earnest discussions a few years ago and the process accelerated at a planning retreat in Chicago last September. There, 21 delegates—seven each from the three existing associations—developed and unanimously approved a framework for a new, unified surface finishing trade association. Retreat participants created a business model that they believed offered an improved way to advance the interests of the North American surface finishing community in the long term while still recognizing the diversity of membership interests of the groups.

Most recently, modification of the retreat’s recommendations has continued in an attempt to try to address concerns among members of the three groups. The current idea puts the three existing associations into a dormant state without entirely dissolving them. A council from each of the three will be charged with doing what it takes to maintain their legal status. Councils will determine their own nomination process for leadership positions.

NASF board makeup will be based on dues of each existing organization, with initial representation of four board members from MFSA, eight from NAMF and six from AESF. Numbers will be reviewed annually, in the hope of providing an incentive to recruit new members. All elections will be based on the general membership of the combined organization.

At the end of June, boards of all three associations voted to modify their bylaws to take the next step toward consolidation. A lot of people have put a lot of time and effort into making the process work. It’s time to make this change happen.

Speaking of change, this is our second issue in the larger, standard-size format. We hope you’re enjoying the more readable fonts, larger photos and improved layouts that our larger size enables. The switch from digest size was an investment aimed at making the magazine more useable (and therefore more useful) for you.

Another change launched last month was our Tech Notes department. In a recent reader survey, you told us that one of the main reasons you read Products Finishing is to stay abreast of news about the latest finishing products and technologies.

Tech Notes provides that type of information in a single-page format that’s fast and easy to read. But Tech Notes are more than just new products—we hope they reveal technology trends and advances in product design or application that could have a significant impact on your operations.

Change is not always comfortable, but our changes are all aimed at better serving you. We’d like to have your feedback about our new size, our new department, or anything other topic you think is important. Please let us know what you think.