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What does a little NARMS history have to do with volunteering?

November 22, 2008 by Membership  

by Chuck Belding
PIC Division Chairman

Oh the memories. Many of our current members share them with me whenever we reminisce about the early 90s. Those were the days we struggled to get a group of “service companies” to come together to form an identity…and raise the bar from “You mean those unreliable service companies?” to “What a great resource those service companies are!”

If we had any identity at all, it seemed to be negative. Yet, here I was the owner of an “installation service company” and had no idea what kind of industry I was in. Then a customer gave me the chance to work jointly with Tom McNulty of In-Store Service, St Louis to do a joint rollout. My company (then TMI) did the heavy lifting and assembly and ISS did all the detailing, stocking and clean-up, making the department ready to sell product.

Tom and I decided we really needed an association, so we called our customers and came up with about 30 companies that did “something” for which they were paid by “somebody” and did most of it in retail environments. We invited them to a meeting in Chicago in 1990 and 12 showed up (from eight companies) to explore our options.

Truly, we had no idea what that spark would ignite. In our infancy, we simply called ourselves (unofficially) NASA (National Association of Service Agencies). Everything we did was volunteer; from calls to postage to writing newsletters to setting up times and places to meet (about twice annually during Chicago trade shows) until we finally met Gary Ebben and chartered as NARMS in 1995.

Well, to most of you that is ancient history and you may ask, “What’s he getting at? What does this have to do with me, a PIC, wanting to volunteer for NARMS?”

Well, EVERYTHING. Volunteering is a relatively easy thing to do now. NARMS has a powerful staff that does most of the work. What the staff needs, though, is our collective input; our ideas; our opinions. And yes, even our criticisms.

With all the industry changes, we have added and lost members of the PIC Committee over the years. We have several new members I am proud to introduce and thank:
Peter Monte, Quest Service Group
Rick Hall, The Beam Team
Mark Roberson, Davaco
Bill Rinder, Pat Henry Group

But, we need more. We have had a couple members who have had to resign from the Committee, either for personal reasons or because they left our industry. So we need to continue to bolster our Committee with new faces and new ideas.

Could that volunteer be you? Are you wondering if there are residual advantages?

Whenever anyone asks me what I get out of NARMS, I have to say that friendships rank #1. Having been around “forever,” I have had the great fortune of working with leaders of some of the largest and most diverse companies in our combined 3rd party industry. I know I can call any one of them for advice at any time and that bond of having volunteered together on Committees or during my terms on the Board assures a warm response and an immediate assurance of help and support.

What about getting business? I have never felt this should be one’s sole motive for belonging to NARMS, but WOW … it is a cool byproduct. I received a call one day from a fellow Board member and was on a flight the next. That led to an almost immediate $ million project for me and our mutual respect grew even closer (as my staff wore their shirts).

I strongly encourage every PIC reading this article to STEP UP! Give a call to me, to Paulette Blaskey, Ken McKenzie or Dan Borschke at NARMS to say “I’m ready to do my part.” You can call me anytime at 800.218.7552, Ext. 208 and I’ll share more enthusiasm and answer any questions I can.

I look forward to at least a few of you accepting the challenge … now … and jumping into the think tank that is, collectively NARMS.

Any reluctance to share and not get back in return? Ken McKenzie recently commented to me that “We know the PIC community has some talented people but the ultimate benefit to NARMS members will come from the willingness to reach out to each other instead of insisting on operating within their own comfort zone.”

Thanks Ken. I think that says it all.

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