Move forward but don’t forget the past

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Terry D. Harries, CMA Chairman of the Board 2007 – 2008

I recently began my term as Chairman of the Board of CMA Business Credit Services. The first order of business was to plan and participate in the annual “Think Tank Conference” This use to be called the Board Retreat.  The purpose of this event is for the Board of Directors of CMA, along with members of the senior staff of CMA to get together and plan / talk / discuss / think about strategic “STUFF” connected with the CMA association.  Most of the tools and programs and information available to you today through CMA Business Credit Services, has, in the past, come out of this annual meeting of the minds.   

The attempt is to keep the association moving forward and keeping up with the changing times and technologies.  I am so proud of the efforts and accomplishments of the past participants and leaders of this organization, I can’t even begin to tell you.  All you have to do is look on anscers.com to see what I am talking about.  But, it goes beyond that.  The way that the staff of CMA has stepped up, over the last several years, to do what they can to make this organization the best it can be.  Not to mention the Educational Program that has given us the new webinars and courses available to all.  In addition you have the Encyclopedia of Credit and the Community Bulletin Board to get whatever information you might need.  It is no wonder CMA is recognized throughout the NACM organization as a trail blazer and leader in the Credit Industry, and I for one am proud to be a part of it.

This year at the Think Tank the major discussion seemed to surround the INDUSTRY CREDIT GROUPS.  This is an area that has been losing membership, not just at CMA, but, in other associations and organizations that have similar programs.  One of the reasons for this decline was thought to be, that maybe we have done such a good job of developing new technology that gives us real time information, that we no longer need to have the groups, as we have known them in the past, to get valuable information.  But, are we really considering the value of having that face to face meeting with other credit personnel from other companies?  How many times have we all gone to an ICG meeting and have heard some information about a common account that came out of a simple discussion at the meeting, that we wouldn’t have received on a written report.  How much money has been saved because we remembered some information that eventually kept us from sending out that order that we probably wouldn’t have been paid on.  Or to a company that we heard was maybe moving or going out of business or wasn’t making payroll.  Not to mention the value that you get just from networking with experienced Credit Managers and others in the Credit world.  How about the trust, and friendships, that have developed over the years.  There is also the educational value at meetings that have seen fit to implement that into their programs.

I know personally that there is a large representation of our membership that recognizes the value of the I.C.G.’s and the fact that many of us joined the organization just for that value.  Let me appeal to those of you who do not want to risk losing this valuable program.  We can save it and we can improve on it and it has to come from the members.  We need to continuously stress and inform those around us of the importance of attending these group meetings and contributing information and mentoring our less experienced members as to how to pass that importance on to those around us.  I would like to put out a challenge to all the Chairmen and Vice Chairs and to the Group Secretaries to find just one additional member that should be attending your group meeting.  Then find out from your specific group members what additional value they would like to receive from these meetings and try to fulfill that need.  I feel if we can’t accomplish strengthening this program, we could find our organization changing in a way that would be different than what we have found so enjoyable in the past years.

Whatever happens, I assure you we will continue to move forward and stay a leader in the industry, but let’s try to remember the past and what got us to dance and bring it along with us.

I’m looking forward to a great year and I hope you will all join me towards that goal.

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