July 1 is the start date for the North American Meat Association (NAMA) - the brand new association created by the consolidation of the two venerable meat industry association leaders – the National Meat Association (NMA) and the North American Meat Processors Association (NAMP). On that date, both associations literally will cease to exist – and the entirely new association NAMA will start.

The elected leaders of both associations have kept a low profile, focusing with other members and their association staff on a seamless transition.

Why did these two associations that have helped lead for industry for more than 60 years decide to join forces? Most importantly, how will NAMA members and the meat industry as a whole benefit?

Joining forces
It took only nine months from when NMA and NAMP began talking to when the consolidation became official – a short time compared to most association consolidations.

The two groups first raised the issue in earnest in May 2011. The decision was made official in February 2012. In between were numerous leadership meetings, two major Board meetings on both sides, several major documents, numerous member communications, conference calls, member surveys and member votes.

In the end, the vote to consolidate was almost unanimous – an overwhelming and remarkable show of solidarity by hundreds of member companies.

The leadership team included the executive committees of both associations acting for their boards and in accordance with their strategic plans.

Participants on weekly conference calls included NMA President Larry Vad of Ideal Meat & Provisions and NMA CEO Barry Carpenter; and for NAMP: NAMP Past Chair Gary Malenke of Natural Food Holdings, NAMP Chair Bobby Hatoff of Allen Brothers, NAMP President Jeff Saval of Deli Brands of America, and NAMP Executive Director Phil Kimball CAE.

The team reported to their respective executive committees, which in turn reported to their boards of directors and memberships.

“It was a wonderful experience working with the NAMP team,” says Vad. “It was a pilot for how the two groups will work together going forward. I could not have asked for a nicer group of people with which to work. Any bump in the road that came along was always handled together as a team. Nothing was ever thrown back at me to do myself.”

Hatoff agrees: “The leadership of NMA and NAMP were extremely cooperative, and that includes Barry Carpenter and Phil Kimball. Both made a positive impact in bringing issues to the attention of the leadership of the two organizations.”

The talks were not unprecedented. The two associations studied coming together more than five years ago, but did not act on it. NAMP hired Kimball who started in February 2007. Coincidently, Carpenter succeeded long-time NMA CEO Rosemary Mucklow that same month when she became Director Emeritus.

On the NAMP side, exploring merging with other organizations was part of the three-year strategic plan it developed in 2010. On the NMA side, its strategic plan called for exploring mergers as well.