SAN FRANCISCO -- The National Food Brokers Association has extended its hand with the aim of extending its reach.
At the organization's annual convention here Dec. 2 to 5, NFBA leadership began to articulate a future vision for the 90-year-old organization as a federation of associations whose members share an involvement at the center of the brand marketing process.
"This year we have created an umbrella organization -- yet to be named -- to facilitate and support the roles of all our constituencies as we go into the future," said Robert D. Petersen, NFBA chairman and president of Atlantic Marketing Forces, New York, in his outgoing address. He went on to describe NFBA as having "a variety of selected 'sales and marketing'-focused organizations as its members."
The formation of the International Foodservice Brokers Association as a separate association "responsible to NFBA," which was announced just prior to the convention, is the first tangible step in pursuing this new vision, Petersen said.
The organization has gone further by extending offers of membership to former members of the National Association of Service Merchandisers, which had previously stated its intention to disband on Dec. 1. Robert C. Schwarze, president and chief executive officer of NFBA, discussed this overture with members of the media during the convention.
These former NASM members are of interest to NFBA because they perform service functions related to some of NFBA's existing membership. A handful of NFBA's member companies were NASM members. In most of those instances, those members, all brokers, have divisions that perform so-called "service-only" activities for manufacturers. "We are very interested in the former members of NASM," Schwarze said. "There are about 30 companies which could be eligible to become part of the NFBA."
The NASM plan called for its members to choose between membership in the General Merchandise Distributors Council or the American Wholesale Marketers Association, and for NASM to divide its net cash assets among the two groups. While most of NASM's 70 traditional service merchandisers are expected to join one or both groups, there remain about 30 service-only firms that are seeking a separate future.
Schwarze said that a hoped-for meeting with the NASM service-only firms did not materialize in time for the NFBA convention, but he expressed an intent to attract those companies to a place under the NFBA umbrella.
"Part of the umbrella concept is to make the association more inclusive. We believe NFBA has the resources to add value to those specialties," Schwarze said.
The formation of the International Foodservive Brokers Association may serve as a kind of model for NFBA's future vision of extending its scope into other related activities. Petersen, in his address, said the group anticipates increasing its membership in the coming year and forming a separate principal's advisory group specifically for the food-service field.
Schwarze added that formation of IFBA was a natural step. "About one-third of our existing membership are already involved in this area," he said. "But pure food-service brokers, by and large, do not belong to the NFBA."
NFBA has named Rick Abraham, a former executive at Kraft Foodservice, Deerfield, Ill., as executive director of IFBA. Reporting to Schwarze, he will be responsible for day-to-day management of the new group. A priority activity, especially during the group's first year, will be membership recruitment.