Industry Associations: What’s in it for me?
By Lakelan Fennell
The moving industry has multiple trade associations that can be very beneficial to companies of all sizes. Some of these are state associations such as The California Moving and Storage Association (CMSA), The North Carolina Movers Association (NCMA), The Southwest Movers Association (SMA) in Texas and The New Jersey Warehousemen & Movers Association (NJWMA). There are international moving associations based overseas such as FIDI Global Alliance and the European Movers Federation (FEDEMAC).
The two primary associations within the United States are The International Association of Movers (IAM), and The American Trucking Association Moving and Storage Conference (ATA MSC). Though headquartered in the US, IAM represents the needs of thousands of movers within the US as well as around the world which provides members with an expansive network of opportunities. ATA MSC was formed recently after the former American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA) was dissolved. Under new leadership, ATA MSC looks to grow their offerings to the moving and storage industry through their link to the much larger American Trucking Association.
All of these trade organizations have similar goals: advocacy, education, networking, industry improvement and promoting fair business practices.
Given the plethora of associations out there, many ask:
- “Which one is for me?”
- “Is it worth it?”
- “What’s the return on investment?”
- “How much of my time is required?”
The answer to these questions lies in the goals you have for your enterprise. Do you wish to grow your business? Do you want to provide a better quality of service to your customers? Do you want to differentiate yourself from your competition by learning the latest trends, regulations and solutions before the rest of the industry?
The reality is we all want to improve our businesses and the moving associations are a great place to make that happen.
According to Tim Helenthal, former Chair of IAM and current CEO of National Van Lines, industry associations are “the best place to keep up on important issues facing the industry and to grow your professional network – both of which can help your company grow and thrive.”
While most associations have the same goals, they don’t all have the same areas of focus. For this reason, joining multiple associations has been shown to be very beneficial. Your state association may be more likely to focus on issues related to your local market, while a national association may provide better networking, education and business growth opportunities.
The big secret of how to get the most from your investment in a moving association is not really a secret. You get back what you put into it. I am not just talking about dues and sponsorship opportunities, though important as well, I am talking more about participation. There are multiple task forces, committees and other areas where you can get involved directly to have an impact on the direction of the industry as well as gain valuable knowledge and insight into the latest news and information. It is also very beneficial to have multiple people from your company involved in the associations which can spread out the time needed for participation and also give more people at your company exposure to information and ideas shaping our industry.
In the same way many of us are involved in our local chambers of commerce, this level of involvement gives our companies visibility and exposure to those looking to use our services. The same goes for moving associations and being involved amplifies this exposure. Committee members network regularly with others in the industry and when larger companies are looking for a company to work with, they look to who they know. There is the truth to the adage “out of sight, out of mind.” When you are active in the moving associations, you are never out of sight.
Finally, Derrick Potter, President of Firefighting’s Finest Moving & Storage, sums up what may be the best reason to join a moving and storage association. “Reputation and advocacy are at the forefront, but what I value most are the relationship bonds with other members. Iron sharpens iron and that is true with our associations and its member’s working relationships.” These association members are in one degree or another all working through the same challenges and this connection produces commonality which is the foundation of all relationships. Indeed there are friends to be made within these associations. I have personally been involved in moving associations both statewide and worldwide for over 25 years and some of my best friends in this industry came from this participation.
The moral of the story is that moving and storage associations are a great way to improve and grow your business, enhance your personal brand and build your professional relationships. Getting connected to the heartbeat of the industry through association membership is vital for the success of any moving company and a decision that always returns the investment made.