Trade Associations – Unite and Conquer!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016Jenny Andrawis

Anyone who runs a successful business understands how important it is to be a part of trade associations. As a leading restoration company, we are members of many trade associations, such as IICRC (Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification), IAQA (Indoor Air Quality Association), and RIA (Restoration Industry Association)

These industry-specific groups can help similar businesses collectively arrive at solutions to similar problems. Workshops, meet-and-greets, newsletters, blogs, and member forums create platforms to share those best industry practices.

Also, by being present in these trade associations, we have our “finger on the pulse” of our niche industry. We are aware of emerging trends, innovative industry advancements, and any changing laws that may affect our business. We tap into the collective knowledge of many other experts in the area and form strong partnerships with them. Trade associations also manage to sort out “bad apples” through self-regulation, which strengthens the validity of the membership base. A business can build an enhanced positive reputation by being awarded association awards, credentials, and certifications. Associations are great for networking! By participating at the ASHE (American Society of Healthcare Engineering), ICSC (International Council of Shopping Centers) and IFMA (International Facility Management Association) local chapters, we gain access to potential customers. In the political realm, trade associations can gain political clout by bringing many competitors together, and magnifying their small voice into a collective one. The benefits of joining a trade association are many and evident.

A recent trend is the close cooperation between industry associations. This brings huge advantages to members. There are a variety of reasons trade associations consider merging. It broadens their membership base, preserves their mission, and improves what they offer their members. Associations have to strive to exist in today’s difficult economic climate when it comes to funding and capital. One of the most frequent events that trigger merger considerations is the loss of an executive. In these cases, an organization may consider a merger to benefit from the leadership and stability of another organization.

ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating & Air-Conditioning Engineers) and the IAQA have recently merged; the partnership will strengthen the programs and services of both organizations. IAQA’s focus has always complemented the work of ASHRAE in its standards, research, publications and educational offerings. Together, the two associations can now combine their resources to ensure we, the members, receive the best indoor air quality technical guidance and educational programs possible. Cross participation in ASHRAE and IAQA chapters is encouraged as a way to broaden the learning and networking resources available to members of both groups. They still haven’t offered a joint membership, so we continue to be members of both associations, separately. I speculate that the future holds the offering of a joint membership that unifies the membership benefit package.

Another example of association collaboration was exercised during the Legionella outbreak. As health authorities were scrambling to contain the most fertile legionella season in recent history, APIC (Association for Professionals in Infection Control) and ASHRAE coordinated on responding to the Legionella outbreak from a medical stance. Following their findings, we assembled a National Rapid Response Environmental Team that is specialty trained, equipped, and dedicated to response to legionella outbreaks.

The IICRC and the NFSI (National Floor Safety Institute) have signed a memorandum of understanding that will create a strong partnership and allow both organizations to openly collaborate and raise awareness about the connection between floor care, cleanliness, and safety. Together, they continue to improve floor safety awareness and education.

Lastly, when Florida revisited its mold laws a couple of years ago, RIA, IAQA, and the IICRC presented a united position on the law changes. There was confusion on just who is required to have a mold license as well as just what the term “direct supervision” really meant. After objection from these groups, the state of Florida withdrew the proposed rules relating to the assessment and remediation of mold. Today, it is mainly due to the association’s combined front that mold remediation is licensed and supervised, placing the good of the Florida consumers, first!

When evaluating a merger, associations must take into consideration factors including synergies, cost savings, work force, and the composition of the combined association’s board. When associations do merge and collaborate, we the members are ensured an effective, holistic representation, enjoy more benefits, and receive greater value for our membership dues.

About the Author

Jenny Andrawis
Director of Marketing

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