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        The views expressed on this page are those of the submitters only

Link to September Currents

Where Do We Go From Here?

 

Excerpt from EASA CURRENTS ¡ September 2004 

By Bill Nielsen, Chair

Ad Hoc Committee-Chapters/Regions

Chairman of the Board

Flanders Electric Motor Service of

Illinois, Inc.

Marion, Illinois

 

As reported last month, EASA’s Board of Directors voted unanimously in June to recommend significant changes in EASA’s bylaws.

 

These changes, if approved by the membership upon balloting next spring, would dissolve the chapters in the U.S. as well as eliminate regions and strictly geographically-based representation (such as we have today with regional directors) on the Board of Directors. The changes have been approved in principle. Details (including the actual bylaws and related governing policies changes) are still being worked out and

will be presented to the Board at its meeting in February. Your Board believes these fundamental changes, if approved by the membership, will be vitally important to the future of our Association. Of course, there are many factors involved with most decisions, but essentially there is an overarching “big picture” that the Board considered before voting to make these recommendations.

 

To help you understand why we feel these changes are necessary, I’d like to share that “big picture” with you in this column. First, though, here is a bit of background. Work Began In 2003 The Board’s action in June was the culmination of meetings, discussions and extensive research that started in February 2003. At that time, then Chairman Woodrow McClure, Jr. appointed an Ad Hoc Committee on Chapters/Regions with me as chair. We were asked to investigate alternatives to the current chapter structure and related representation issues. Once our work was complete, we were to make our recommendations to the full Board.

 

The committee included Art Anderson, Jasper Fisher, Brian Gibbon, Woodrow McClure, Jr., Les Parsons

and Mike Pence. We met twice (with 2 EASA CURRENTS ¡ www.easa.com the full Board invited to “sit in” and provide input at one of our meetings). There also was a great deal of communication via e-mail, phone, etc.  Building on the work of the Blue Ribbon Panel in 2000, the committee took into consideration the findings of the “State of the EASA Industry” research as well as those of the most recent Member Needs Assessment Survey. Results from both of these surveys and additional research fed the development of both our strategic plan and the proposal on chapters/regions. The committee was charged with developing recommendations that would benefit all members, and while we feel we’ve done that, we also

believe it will be the smaller firms who are best served by these changes.

 

The Big Picture

EASA must always reassess what matters most to the majority of the membership and make sure resources

are allocated appropriately. This is especially true considering:

 

 • The state of the industry

 • Recent and projected membership declines

 • Serious revenue pressures of the past few years.

 

 When discussing the challenges of our chapter/regional system, it quickly became clear that we could not and should not address such an important issue in isolation. The ad hoc committee and then the Board had to look at the organization as a whole. And that “big picture” must take into account our strategic plan (see our recently approved plan in the “Members Only” section of EASA’s Web site) as well as other factors.

 

• The strategic plan dictates that the Association must not only stay relevant to its current base but also

perhaps grow by expanding core competencies and providing technical support and service in additional area(s).

 

• EASA’s strategic plan also requires the Board to reexamine EASA’s financial model: dues, chapters/

regions, services, convention and so forth. We must use our resources more efficiently and effectively. We

certainly cannot expand our core services otherwise.

 

 • For decades, members have been required to belong to a chapter and therefore most pay chapter dues — some of which are substantial — despite the fact that they never participate in chapter or regional events.

 

• In addition, EASA currently rebates to chapters in the U.S. 10% of its dues — well over $80,000

per year and nearly a half-million dollars over five years. Add the actual chapter dues collected to

that, and the five-year total nears $1 million.

 

• Yet, EASA is serving no more than 20% of its members via chapter/regional meetings, with

the average around 10%.

 

• Conversely, the Association serves well over 80% of its members directly with its technical

support service via our staff engineers — and most members use this service multiple times per year.

It is rated by members as the No. 1 reason for renewing membership, with chapter/regional meetings far

down the list.

 

Choices Before The Board

I am proud that your Board recognized that this is a critical time in EASA’s history; virtually a crossroad.

The questions Board members asked before taking its vote on the ad hoc committee proposal were many, but they considered these essential questions.

 

Should the Association:

 

1) Continue with a system that it knows serves 20% or less of its members or

 

2) Reallocate resources so that it may work toward expansion of services/core competencies in order to

maintain and increase its relevance to its current base and perhaps even grow its membership.

With their vote to recommend bylaws changes to the membership, the Board chose the second point. The big WIN with such a reorganization is that EASA will have more time and money to give the majority of its members what they want and need.

 

Bylaws Recommendations: With Your Approval, A Big Win For EASA Members

More Resources, Technical Assistance In New Areas Would Be Available

 

 

Proposed Changes

While there are still many details to be worked out, the new bylaws (still being drafted, as mentioned above) would:

 

1) Remove governance/charters from all chapters in the U.S.

 

a. Chapters in the U.S. would no longer exist.

 

b. Members could continue to meet as networking groups in a fashion similar to EASA’s Roving Chief Executive groups but without requirement for sharing of financial information, etc. These groups will not

receive support or recognition from EASA financially or otherwise. Should they choose to do so, they will operate as independent groups, setting up their own self-supporting meetings.

 

c. Members therefore will not be required to pay chapter dues or be a member of a networking group unless they choose to do so. (Consequently, most members will see a reduction in their total dues cost to EASA.)

 

2) Eliminate regions and therefore geographically tied representation on the Board of Directors.

 

a. The Association’s Nominating Committee would be made up of the immediate past chairman as chair, the current chairman and vice chairman, as well as at least two members-at-large.

 

b. The Nominating Committee will be responsible for recommending to the Board and membership the most qualified and willing candidates from the entire membership to serve as Board members.

 

c. This committee will be charged with the task of recommending individuals that are representative of EASA’s membership while avoiding disproportionate representation geographically or otherwise.

 

d. Note that many trade associations, particularly those in the industrial arena, conduct their nominating process quite successfully in a similar manner.

 

e. The Board believes that being able to recommend to the membership a broader range of director candidates (rather than limiting the field to past chapter presidents, as is currently the case) will only enhance the representation provided at the Board of Directors’ level.

 

3) Chapters currently based outside the United States will continue to exist and receive financial support from EASA, and chapter membership will still be required of members in these areas.

 

a. The current dues rebate will be continued as long as these chapters are successful in serving/maintaining their existing membership and in attracting new members.

 

b. EASA recognizes that in these cases, the chapters are able to provide industry representation before governmental, academic and other entities that EASA International would not be able to provide from the U.S.

 

Summary

Serving the membership via the chapter/regional system made sense for decades. Your Board is not disputing that by any means. After all, keep in mind that each Board member basically “grew up” in our respective chapters! We are not recommending change for the sake of change. But the current system simply no longer makes sense. And, we can no longer be “just motor repair.” Your Board of Directors believes strongly that EASA must change, evolve and essentially “reinvent itself” NOW while the Association is strong. We will appreciate your support in making that happen. Please see the Q&A section that starts below for further information and clarification regarding the Board’s proposals. And, if you have any additional questions or comments, please submit them to me (bnielsen@flanderselectric.com) and our CEO, Linda Raynes  (lraynes@easa.com). Of course, feel free to phone or fax as well. We will be happy to hear from you.

 

While many details are yet to be worked out, following are questions members might have, along with the appropriate answers, relative to the proposed bylaws changes the Board will be recommending to the members next spring:

 

Q. When would the new bylaws take effect?

 

A. Detailed proposed changes in the bylaws (which are being developed now) will be discussed by the Board at its February 2005 meeting and presented to the membership for a vote during the spring. If approved, the bylaws would become effective in the 2005- 2006 administrative year that begins June 29, 2005.

 

Q. What would happen to the existing chapter treasuries?

 

A. These funds belong to the chapters, and there is absolutely no intent on the part of EASA to gain control of any of these monies. The bylaws of the respective chapters usually dictate that upon dissolution, the chapter funds shall be distributed among the members in good standing at the time. Or, it’s possible that members (if given the choice by the chapter) can opt to allow the chapter to retain the funds for the purpose of holding meetings in the future. Chances are a good number of chapters will choose to distribute the funds among existing members as per their bylaws.

 

Q. Will these changes affect chapters/regions during EASA’s current fiscal year that began on September 1, 2004?

 

A. No. Chapter dues will be collected as usual, and 10% of EASA International dues still will be rebated to chapters in the U.S. (15% to chapters outside the U.S.) per our current system. EASA Headquarters will send dues invoices in late November/early December and collect and remit dues to the chapters through

April (April 1 is the beginning of the new membership year) as in the past. Again, the proposed changes will not be effective at all in the current fiscal year.

 

Q. With the potential for these significant changes, can we plan or schedule a chapter or regional event?

 

A. Yes. Since none of the changes would take effect until mid-2005 at the earliest, chapters or regions

can schedule and fund any event as they have in the past. The caveat is the possibility that this would be the last year for dues payments to be remitted to them, so they need to make sure not to schedule anything they would not be able to support.

 

Q. Can chapters continue to meet?

 

A. Yes. Chapters may choose to continue to meet as networking groups in a fashion similar to EASA’s Roving Chief Executive (RCE) Groups but without requirement for sharing of financial information, etc. RCE groups do not receive any support or recognition from EASA financially or otherwise.

 

Q. Would there continue to be regional meetings?

 

A. Because of the possibility that chapters in the U.S. will no longer exist beginning in mid- 2005, we would recommend avoiding scheduling any regional meetings beyond next spring.

 

Q. Since there wouldn’t be “official” chapter or regional meetings, will EASA International provide something similar to regional meetings?

 

A. The Association, in coordination with the Board and volunteers, would have the option of creating Specialty Conferences” that may be offered in strategic locations in the U.S. If such meetings are not successful, however, the Board would also have the option of discontinuing them and offering alternative services for the members.

 

Q. What about the dues rebates (the 10% of EASA dues) that currently are remitted to chapters in the U.S.? What would EASA International do with the money it would save by not rebating this portion to the chapters?

 

A. These funds would go to support EASA’s strategic plan that, among other things, calls for expanding

core services by providing technical support and service in additional areas. More research needs to be

done, but this might start with hiring a pump specialist. Approximately 90% of our members repair pumps, and in many cases, this is an area that is expanding for members as they work to replace business they’ve lost on the motor repair side. Yet many members have a much more limited knowledge of pumps. And while our current technical support staff is certainly capable of helping with many questions related to pumps, they do not have the background or expertise of a “pump specialist.” EASA also views this as a potential growth area in terms of membership. Members have told us overwhelmingly — both via our Member Needs Assessment Survey and actual usage — that our technical support service is the No.1 reason they remain members. The Board believes strongly that it should devote these resources to the

benefit that serves well over 80% of the members as opposed to the chapter/regional meetings structure,

which serves significantly less than  20% of our members.

 

Q. Would the amount of my dues be affected by these proposed changes?

 

A. While we don’t know how other forces will affect dues in the future, we do know that members of current U.S. chapters would no longer be required to pay chapter dues or be a member of a networking group. Most members, therefore, would see a reduction in their total dues cost to EASA if the proposed

bylaws are approved.

 

Q. Would directors represent a geographic region?

 

A. No. Directors would be elected at-large, although the Nominating Committee will be charged to avoid disproportionate representation geographically or otherwise.

 

Q. Would current directors continue to serve on the Board?

 

A. Yes. Current directors will continue to serve the terms for which they were elected. If the new bylaws are approved, as directors complete their terms, new director candidates will be selected by the Nominating

Committee and voted on by the entire membership.

 

Q. How would Board members be elected?

 

A. When current directors complete their terms, the Nominating Committee would be responsible for recommending to the Board and membership the most qualified and willing candidates from the entire membership to serve as Board members. Members would then be presented the slate for voting.

 

Q. Would chapters outside the U.S. continue to operate as they currently have, and if so, why?

 

A. Yes. Chapters outside the U.S. would continue to receive financial support (through dues rebates) and recognition as chapters. The Board quickly determined that chapters outside the U.S. are able to provide industry representation before governmental, academic and other entities that EASA International would not be able to provide from the U.S.

 

 

Response 1

Thoughts on EASA’s Proposed Bylaw Change as Published in the EASA CURRENTS, September 2004

 

By Jerry Gray, September 12, 2004

 

After reading the article, and thinking about the reasons behind the proposed bylaw change, these thoughts have occurred to me:

  1. The article summarizes the efforts of an ad-hoc committee reporting to the EASA executive board, culminating with a presentation to the full board of directors with the final product being presented in the September, 2004 issue of CURRENTS.  Bearing in mind that EASA headquarters staff has reorganized with a management organization chart that emulates a for-profit business structure, the proposed bylaw change is analogous to that of a manufacturer taking draconian actions due to declining demand for its product.  Upper level management (read EASA board) is proposing to close all of its sales offices (read Chapters) and remove a layer of management (read Regional Officers) to free up resources so that additional services (read Overhead) can be added.  Two issues surface:
    1. TOP DOWN MANAGEMENT STYLE (WRONG!) – NO INPUT FROM AFFECTED PARTIES.  In any corporate structure, when upper management (read Chairman, CEO, Executive VP, Controller) identifies problems, managers (read Regional Directors) are brought in to discuss the problem, and managers then bring in supervisors (read Chapter Presidents) and staff (read Chapter Officers) to review the problem in all of its details (numbers, strategy and options).  Timelines are then established, consequences are clearly presented, and action plans are formulated with input and consensus from line personnel (read Members – ALL CLASSES OF MEMBERS).  Upon achieving consensus, implementation resembles a dictatorship, whereas consensus building requires a democratic approach.  In this method of management, no one is blind-sided, buy-in is achieved, and everyone knows the consequences of failure.
    2. ONLY ONE CLASS OF MEMBERS IS INVOLVED (WRONG!).  THE REST OF THE STAKEHOLDERS (OTHER CLASSES OF MEMBERS) ARE EXCLUDED.  One does not have to wonder long why EASA membership is on its rear end.  The energy that is present from the symbiotic relationship of Active member to Affiliate, Associate, Honorary and At-Large, is ignored and has hence diminished or vanished.  Who wants to participate when they are ignored, yet they can, and in fact are required to, make a vital, CRITICAL contribution?
  2. EASA overhead structure must fit its financial resources.  Closing all sales offices due to lack of sales is not the answer – new or re-invigorated sales management is the answer along with closing only the worst non-performing sales offices.  Expanding or maintaining overhead during an extended period of declining revenues bankrupts businesses.  To survive, and have the opportunity to grow again, the business must re-invent itself, and this starts by doing more with less, and not maintaining the status quo that lead an organization into the current situation.
  3. The reasons given for the bylaw change are that only 20% of the members benefit, while 80% choose not to participate in the Chapters.  Therefore, the proposed bylaw change removes the EASA Chapter Charters thus alienating the truly ACTIVE 20%.  From whence will EASA International draw its future leadership?  Probably from the non-U.S. Chapters as they still are “Chapters”, grooming leaders due to the existence of a Chapter structure.
    1. If one follows this specious logic of eliminating the minority for the sake of a majority:

                                                               i.      Baseball would not exist as a “good” hitter only gets a hit 30% of the time.

                                                             ii.      Organized religion would be outlawed as only a minority of Americans attend church.

                                                            iii.      Marriage would be outlawed as only a minority of marriages do not end up in divorce.

                                                           iv.      Adolf Hitler would be considered a hero.

                                                             v.      Civil Rights would not exist.

       4.  One REALLY wonders if the brain trust that created this EASA 80/20 logic is fit for governance of EASA?

 

Response 2

ALTERNATE PROPOSAL TO EASA BYLAW PROPOSALS AS PRESENTED IN THE SEPTEMBER, 2004 ISSUE OF “EASA CURRENTS” MAGAZINE

 

Written by Jerry Gray, September 12, 2004

 

  1. WHEREAS EASA’s Mission Statement (as taken from their website) states:

Mission

The mission of EASA is to help members enhance their performance and achieve greater levels of success through education, information and networking opportunities.

 

 

B.      WHEREAS EASA’s objectives for 2004-2006 (as taken from their website) states:

Objectives (2004 - 2006)

  1. Restructure chapters and regions.
  2. Access and implement additional technical support services and products.
  3. Reexamine the existing EASA financial model: dues, fee-for-service, chapters and regions, convention.

 

C.     WHEREAS The September, 2004 issue of  EASA CURRENTS presents bylaw changes to dissolve chapters and regions.

 

THEREFORE, be it resolved:

        I.      The bylaw proposals as stated in the September, 2004 EASA CURRENTS will be REMOVED from balloting as they are counter to the Mission and Objectives of EASA as:

a.      Dissolving the Chapters effectively reduces (not enhances) networking opportunities, which is in violation of the Mission statement.

b.      Dissolving the regions and chapters is NOT restructuring, which is in violation of the Objectives (2004-2006).

     II.      That Active Members are not required to join a Chapter.

   III.      That U.S. Chapters accepting a charter from EASA International are separate non-profit entities that do not receive any funding from EASA International, nor will they financially contribute towards EASA International, but they exist as volunteer, non-profit organizations dedicated to promoting the EASA Mission, Objectives, Products and Services as long as they are chartered by EASA International.

All classes of members are vital to EASA and its Chapters.  Hence, all classes of members will have the opportunity for input and have an equal vote regarding any structural reorganizing of how EASA International serves its members.

Response 3

Dear EASA Chapter officer:

My name is Ray Paden, and I am President of  Industrial Electric Co. of
Georgia in Atlanta.  I serve the Southeastern  Chapter of EASA as State
Director for Georgia, and also as Executive  Secretary/Treasurer, but it is
only in my capacity as an individual Active  Member of EASA that I write to
you today.

I'm sure you're aware by now that the EASA  International Board of
Directors has voted to dissolve the Chapters and  eliminate geographical
representation on the Board of Directors.  In the  coming months, you will
no doubt read several articles published in the Currents  (the
"official" EASA newsletter) lobbying for your members' approval  of the
bylaws amendment's) effecting this change.  It is very unlikely that  any
opposing voice will be found in the Currents.

I believe that dissolving the Chapters and ending  geographical
representation on the International Board of Directors would be a  grave
mistake, and would undoubtedly make our current problems with member
apathy and non-participation even worse.  While it holds out a promise to
the "majority" who do not come to Chapter meetings that they will get
expanded  technical support, there is no realistic provision for expanding
technical staff  beyond pumps (perhaps) unless additional "resources" are
found ... by increasing  International dues, or perhaps diverting resources
away from technical support  for electric motors.  Worst of all, it
eliminates the groundwork for  geographical representation on the
International Board ... the real reason that  Chapters exist.  Once
International Directors are elected "at-large"  individual member firms
will have virtually no representation on the Board and  no control over its
decisions.  Since Director nominees will be chosen by  the Chairman, Vice
Chairman, Past Chairman, and two members chosen by the  Chairman, there
will be no realistic hope of even running for Director unless a  member can
convince "the powers-that-be" that they should be given that  chance.

I have written an article that explains the reasons  I believe Chapter
Dissolution would be a mistake, and I am attaching it to this  message.  It
is my intention to distribute this to every EASA Active  member, but that
is a daunting task, so I am starting with the officers of each  affected
Chapter.  I regret that it is so lengthy, but I figured that this  would be
my only shot and I wanted to make it a big bang.

I would appreciate it if you would read this  document thoughtfully and
give it your consideration.  I would be glad to  discuss any of these
issues with you should you so desire.  As I said, I do intend that every
Active member should have an  opportunity to hear the other side of this
debate before being asked to  vote.  If you are willing to help me in
distributing this to your Chapter's  members by providing me with a mailing
or email list, I would greatly  appreciate it.  Whether you support or
oppose Chapter dissolution, I  believe you would be doing your Chapter and
your organization a service by  allowing your Chapter's member to hear an
opposing viewpoint.

Respectfully,
Raymond K. Paden
Industrial Electric Co. of GA
(404) 622-1441
(404) 622-1445 FAX
 

Response 4

 

Fellow EASAen,

I am sending this e-mail to inform you of action taken by the Board of
Directors of EASA.  Some of you may have read EASA CURRENTS August edition and have seen the comments about the Board action to ABOLISH chapters & regions. You will soon be getting your September issue with more about the forthcoming vote to amend the bylaws.

If "Networking" and Chapter/ Region meeting are important to you, you want to look at our website! http://www.20-80asa.org.

If you want "TAXATION with OUT REPRESENTATION" ( paying dues and not having anyone from your area on the Board to  represent you)  than maybe you won't mind this change.

If you are having a chapter or region meeting  soon, you need to check this out, before, not when it you hear about it during the meeting. "SHOCKING"

Thank You,

Steve Skenzick
HPS Electric, Roseburg, Oregon

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