Giving Dues Their Due
Giving Dues Their Due
At the last SBCA Open Quarterly Meeting (OQM), the board of directors amended a long-standing member dues policy. Following months of research and discussion, the Executive Committee recommended truss plate manufacturer (TPM) dues closely reflect those of component manufacturers (CMs): namely, a sliding-scale amount based on sales volume. After discussion, the board approved a dues structure for TPMs that is half what CMs pay.
The reasons for this change are many. In 1996, based on the relationship between TPI and SBCA (WTCA at the time), a policy was changed to allow TPMs to be SBCA members without paying dues. This fact was a surprise to most board members (including myself). The sales volume dues structure we’ve used for CMs for years, and have now put in place for TPMs, is the fairest method I know of for calculating trade association dues. It allows members to give back to the industry (at a reasonably low percentage, like .011% of sales for TPMs) in accordance with the benefits they gain from the success of the industry as a whole. Unlike a flat-fee dues structure, a revenue-based dues structure makes trade association membership affordable for all participants in an industry. SBCA aims to be as inclusive as possible, and the board believes this dues adjustment is fair to all CMs.
Perception vs. Reality
Many in our industry believe that a great deal of association revenue is generated directly from TPMs through things such as BCMC, SBC Magazine, chapters and dues.
If you’ve ever been to BCMC and seen the large booth spaces and the number of TPM company representatives in attendance, it’s easy to understand why people have the perception that they do.
BCMC, for example, is a very important event for the entire industry. TPM’s provide a strong foundation for the success of BCMC. Not because TPMs contribute revenue directly to BCMC, but because TPMs are our industry’s key suppliers. Their participation attracts CMs to attend, which exposes them to BCMC’s many opportunities to learn, network and transact business with each other. Indeed, BCMC is the one place that allows for conversations among all the CMs and industry suppliers in attendance. It is the time for everyone in our industry to gather in one place as a community.
Given the supply side focus of BCMC, many attendees and industry participations don’t realize that a significant amount of the BCMC revenue also comes from CM registrations and the room night commissions that both CMs and suppliers support. I’ve had many conversations with the TPM leadership about the disparity between SBCA members’ perception of their contribution to the organization and the reality of our revenue stream. The challenge has been to convey an appreciation for all they do along with the need for everyone to contribute a reasonable amount in membership dues to support the critical work of SBCA.
Many within TPM member companies see SBCA as much their association as it is their customers’ association. They take great pride in what we do collectively on behalf of the industry. This is a big deal that isn’t lost on me.
Yet in all fairness, the purpose of changing the dues policy is to ensure everyone contributes on a more even footing to the organization. In fact, this whole discussion started out of the recognition of the close relationship between TPMs and CMs. CMs could not exist without truss plates and software; TPMs could not exist without CMs selling a finished product.
Working Hard to Work Together
Based on the board’s experience researching this issue and sharing our findings with TPMs, I encourage the leadership of each TPM member company to become more engaged, get to know SBCA Executive Committee members and appoint a specific individual to keep in touch with SBCA and regularly attend OQMs.
SBCA values the participation of TPMs in all association and industry activities, whether it’s conducting a bracing presentation on behalf of a chapter, organizing golf outings or participating in BCMC Build. CMs appreciate the ongoing involvement of TPMs in SBCA, and I sincerely hope to see continued support from TPM members. We’ve developed many strong friendships over the years, and I look forward to seeing those continue to grow and flourish.
SBCA leadership is committed to improving the industry as a whole, for the benefit of both CM and TPM members. We meet again on August 10-11 (find details here), and
the dues policy will be a primary agenda item. The executive committee and I will share the comments we’ve received and open the floor for additional discussion of the new dues structure. I encourage everyone to attend, and I look forward to bringing the industry together for a healthy conversation.