NAQP Pre-Merger NAPL Pre-Merger NAPL Network Today
2. 5 37 40
1,003* 2,398* 3,200*
$6.3 million $6.7 million
*103 companies were members of both NAQP and NAPL at the time of the merger.
ices with the other group, and NAQP members got a feel for
what it’s like to be part of the NAPL Network.
Feedback during the early part of the trial period was so
good that NAQP decided to accelerate the process after just one
year. At its annual convention in fall 2006, Johnson and Truncale again went before attendees at another open forum. A
merger vote was held (the vote also was administered by proxy
for those unable to attend). It passed overwhelmingly — 215
in favor to 3 against.
TRANSITIONING INTO ONE
With the merger now approved, a transition team was formed
and the actual work of merging could begin. As they went along,
the groups realized there were some tricky legalities to deal with
since nonprofit law varies from state to state. It wasn’t always
clear which state law they should follow, with NAQP located in
Illinois and NAPL in New Jersey — but the support of a few
legal experts helped.
A major focus was reviewing the roles and responsibilities
of staff at both groups. The goal was to optimize staff resources,
eliminate duplications and isolate stand-alone competencies.
In the end, in addition to remaining the head of NAQP, Johnson was tapped to manage all member services and professional
development operations for the NAPL Network. That includes
membership marketing, member recruitment and retention,
and professional development programs for members of NAPL,
NAQP and the Research and Engineering Council (the small
group with whom NAPL had merged earlier).
The other remaining NAQP staff also were integrated into overall
NAPL Network roles. What had been a total staff of five — including Johnson — for the years leading up the merger had decreased
through attrition to one other full-time person and one part-timer.
All of the operational responsibilities such as member billing, finance
and human resources were absorbed by existing NAPL staff.
Membership is integrated to the point that if a prospect
inquires about NAQP membership, the department may recommend membership in NAPL instead — and vice versa — depending on what the prospect is seeking. Members at the time of the
merger were able to select one association or the other, with
the understanding that about 95 percent of what is offered to
one group is offered to the other.
Member communication is handled by the same department,
though some pieces go to members of only one association or
the other — or are tailored for a certain group. There is a separate administration budget for operating the Chicago office; otherwise finances are completely combined.
In retrospect, the transition period “was not as easy as we would
have hoped, though I think it never is,” Johnson says. “We quickly
determined that we needed to focus on anything that affected
members first. Staff issues came second, which admittedly meant
more issues for many of us to deal with and some long hours.”
The two groups used different association management systems, and working on dual systems wasn’t deemed efficient.
Communication also was difficult initially because staff members were in two different offices, hundreds of miles away. And
management had to deal with coordination issues as everyone
adjusted to their new roles and reporting structure.
However, Gardner, whose term on the board had expired,
says as a “regular” member by the time of the transition period,
“everything appeared to happen seamlessly.”
Schildgen also recalls a pretty smooth transition for members.
But, he says, “We were pretty concerned because the member
renewal period came right after the transition.”
Shortly after the merger, NAQP members received some NAPL
publications and programs — a tactic Schildgen feels helped.
Overall, Truncale says, that is part of a larger strategy that prevails today. “One thing that became apparent to me early on is
that NAQP had to look not the same to members after the merger,
but it had to look better,” he adds.
THE JOB CONTINUES
Looking ahead, issues related to the branding of both NAPL and
NAQP remain on the table. “We want to maintain the unique
identity of NAQP, but at the same time this is somewhat limiting,” Truncale says. He thinks a subtle shift in NAQP’s branding
needs to take place so that they can better define the two
groups and their membership bases.
Better tailoring programs and services — and the marketing
of them — to the different groups also is a goal. “Going forward,
we want to get the right product in front of the right person at
the right time and at the right price,” Kemp says. “If we do that,
we don’t have to worry about what two consonants after ‘NA’
are stamped on it.”
Association leaders know they’ll need to continue to make
adjustments to best serve the printing community in the future,
both in terms of industry changes and the association model
in general. “The whole association concept is going to be tested
in the next decade,” Schildgen says. He adds that many younger
people are coming into the industry through family businesses
and engaging them in the association will likely be a challenge.
Yet it appears the organization is well positioned to continue to
build on the merger and address any new challenges on the horizon. “We’ve come a long way in three short years,” Truncale says.
And Johnson agrees: “We can do a better job for members now.”
Rachel Crippin Clark is a communications consultant and freelance writer based
in the Chicago area. She may be reached at
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