If you don't like change, your’re going to like irrelevance even less.” This 2003 quote from General EricShinseki, chief of staff, U.S. Army, exemplifies the spirit of NAEDA’s leadership when they amended the association’s bylaws in September 2013. Let’s work together to embrace and initiate change within the association rather than wait and react to external changes.
Since January 1 of this year, I have spent more than half my time on the road visiting with members, affiliate boards and affiliate executives, delivering this message and discussing NAEDA’s future. There hasn’t always been agreement on every aspect of the process or the desired outcome, but there has been agreement on the two most important prerequisites for a successful transition: open communication and broad participation.
With these prerequisites as the guiding principles, a Committee of the Whole workshop was held on March 5 in Phoenix, Ariz. Nearly 40 board members, affiliate executives and alumni gathered for a lively two-hour discussion led by Mark Levin of BAI, Inc., in Columbia, Md. As the newest member of NAEDA’s staff, I was impressed by the positive atmosphere of collaboration and cooperation that filled the room. Everyone seemed to recognize the need for change and the value the new structure/brand can provide NAEDA members, including:
▶ Greater visibility for the association and industry.
▶ A stronger, united voice for the dealers.
▶ Increased focus on the three most important issues facing the industry - manufacturer relations, government relations and regulatory compliance.
▶ Enhanced communications.
▶ Transparent processes and procedures.
▶ A leaner governance structure capable of reacting more quickly to the ever-changing needs and opportunities within the industry.
As the group continued its discussion, it became apparent that eight priorities or focus areas will need to be specifically addressed as we transition to a new model:
4. Manufacturer Relations
5. Government Relations
6. Regulatory Compliance
7. Member Services
The group ended the afternoon discussing various options for identifying and implementing the desired outcomes.
The next day’s board meeting ended much earlier than anticipated, so the group gathered once again on the afternoon of March 6 to continue the previous day’s discussion. About a third of the attendees were unable to participate the second day due to travel arrangements and other obligations, but the impromptu session proved to be equally positive and productive.
The group drilled a little deeper into each of the focus areas, identifying opportunities to create new committees and councils, expand membership, deliver more focused communications, enhance the relationship with manufacturers, ensure a positive legislative environment and increase the member’s value proposition. It was an incredibly constructive use of the “free time” we unexpectedly discovered, and probably jumped us several weeks ahead of where we would otherwise be at this point in the process.
The past few weeks have been spent forming task groups to address each of the priorities. The groups, composed of members and affiliate executives, will thoroughly study and discuss each of the focus areas to develop specific recommendations for implementing the necessary changes. If you would like to serve on a task group, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 636-349-6221. The greater the participation, the more likely we will arrive at the desired outcomes.
In the coming months, I will be providing regular updates on our progress in addressing each of the focus areas. Your ideas, issues and suggestions are always welcome, so please feel free to contact me at any time. This is your association and it must provide the programs, services and benefits you want and need!
Thank you for being a valued member of NAEDA .
RICHARD “Rick” LAWHUN is president/CEO of North American Equipment Dealers Association (NAEDA). The association provides educational, legal, legislative and financial services to approximately 5,500 retail agricultural, construction, large property/rural lifestyle and outdoor power equipment dealers in the United States and Canada. Rick can be contacted at 636-349-6221 or via e-mail at email@example.com.