Jerry Phillips

Re: The Perfect Storm Ahead for AESF

I have often heard the phrase “Perfect Storm” in the past but never did this concept become as clear to me as when I heard it mentioned after a group of Chicago AESF members met to learn more about the reorganization of the electroplating associations.  The Perfect Storm was discussed as it applied to the pending potential disaster facing all three trade associations but especially AESF.

The concern is that this reorganization has been so stressful and divisive among people that the wounds may be too deep for some people to forget.  Although it is uncertain what the outcome of the vote by the AESF Council of Delegates will be, one group is going to be disappointed. 

The people against reorganization (Loyalists) see the reality that if the Council of Delegates accepts the reorganization plan many memberships will not be renewed.  Some of the AESF Loyalists may refuse to be a part of the proposed NASF.  Another concern is the proposed structure for NASF does not offer distinct incentives for corporate voting representatives of NAMF and MFSA to maintain their personal individual (AESF) memberships.  Without a doubt many will sponsor about the same number of individual members as they sponsor now.  But how many will not?  Combining these two factors could result in a very substantial decrease in AESF memberships.  This potential reduction in membership along with potential lack of support by NAMF and MFSA members for AESF programs and SUR/FIN could develop into a decrease in AESF educational efforts.

If reorganization does not pass, the people favoring reorganization (Reorganizers) are very likely to be upset at individual delegates voting against reorganization and AESF as a group.  Reorganizers may express their disappointment by dropping AESF memberships, stopping their support to the AESF Branches or maybe even causing personal hardships for the Loyalists delegates.  Any of these actions will lead to a reduced possibility of AESF long term stability and further repercussions between each group who believe their position on this issue is correct.  Even worse than the effects to AESF is the damage that could result in personal relationships between long time friends and colleagues. 

Loyalists have threatened to lead their respective Branches in a secession from any future version of an association other than a stand alone AESF.  Reorganizers have threatened to boycott SUR/FIN and “bring AESF to its knees”.

I have talked to very close friends in the industry who have resigned from committee positions because they have already decided they are not enjoying participation in AESF.  AESF is a volunteer organization where volunteers personally decide if they are better off involved or removed from the organization.  Many are removing themselves from the turmoil and therefore, the organization.  The politics of this decision is hurting all of us deeply and is causing good valuable people to choose not to participate.  The saddest part is that some of the people making the decision to stop participating have received threats that could affect their careers.  This is creating hard feelings that may never be forgotten.

I think back to the old Indian proverb, “A warrior who sets off to destroy his enemy should dig two graves before leaving home”.  Certainly this proverb seems to be appropriate to the present situation of reorganization.  How big of a grave do we need to dig for three associations?

I have spent countless hours the past year participating in a Retreat, attending Transition Board meetings, reading e-mails, reviewing legal documents, participating in conference calls, talking to individual members on the phone and lying in bed thinking about what is the best answer for achieving all of the needs of three similar but very different groups.  The amount of time I spent has been multiplied many, many, many times by the other members of the Transition Board and other industry leaders. 

Our efforts on the Transition Board have focused on creating a proposed structure for a joint association and attempting to explain this structure to anyone who would listen.    The difference of opinion has constantly divided the groups that need to continue dialogue.  Each side has a distinct opinion and all of the discussion has done little to change each individual’s thoughts on the subject.  Ultimately, the final decision for acceptance of reorganization will be made by the AESF Council of Delegates.

While participating in all of these efforts I have thought about the years leading up to the Civil War.  I am seriously concerned that SUR/FIN 2006 will be Fort Sumter for these surface finishing associations.  A war will begin that places brother against brother (figuratively speaking) where everyone will suffer great harm.  My fear is our interest will focus on North vs South (Loyalists vs Reorganizers) instead of how to move forward after the vote.

Regardless of the outcome of the vote, a massive amount of effort will still be required.  Approval of reorganization will require AESF members to solidify the AESF Council structure, AESF Foundation operations and learn how to function as a part of an association that more directly includes the two other groups.  Rejection of reorganization is going to require immediate attention to possible membership losses, reduced revenues, a new focus on member benefits and other possible management issues.

The next few weeks until SUR/FIN are a critical time for AESF.  Anyone who wants to continue enjoying the benefits of our Society MUST think about a plan for survival and future success.  I plan to discuss how AESF can work together with the leaders of the other associations once the vote is final, regardless of the vote outcome.  One thing every AESF member can count on is that I will be true to the objective I stated when I was appointed by the Board of Directors last year to serve on the Retreat Committee and Transition Board.  AESF individual members and AESF Branches will be represented primary in all of my decisions.  Recent events may reduce my potential to be successful in this effort but I will never waver from this mission until I choose to not be involved any longer. 

We all need to work together to avoid the Perfect Storm regardless of how the Council of Delegates votes on the reorganization issue.  I hope you join me in trying to preserve the critical services that AESF offers to the members.

Jerry Phillips


Re: The Perfect Storm Ahead for AESF

Being a Civil War buff I do like your analogy.  But I think Fort Sumter was when our (out of control BOD) voted to accept the merger.....  that is where the real first shot was fired from the traitors.  Sur-Fin 07 will be more like Gettysburg! 

Since when did the AESF BOD start working for the other associations?  Aren't they supposed to look out for the AESF membership first?  Thank God we have a Council of Delegates left to protect the members.

Jerry Phillips

Re: The Perfect Storm Ahead for AESF

Wow, I have not read this message for over a year.   It reminds me of some tough times we all endured during the consolidation vote.  I realize that my concern on this issue is still present even though it has been out of my mind for a while.

Jerry Phillips