In last month’s column I began to explore the history of the International Detailing Association (IDA). First, I defined the term “trade association” as “an organization founded by businesses that operate in a specific industry with the express purpose of supporting members of that industry.”
A properly established and managed trade organization will have articles of incorporation on file, will have voted in a board of directors selected from its membership, and will have drafted a set of bylaws that are then ratified by the membership. The board of directors, along with any committees that it establishes, guide — in strict accordance with the bylaws — the functioning of the association.
The IDA followed this model to a tee thanks to early leadership by IDA Hall of Fame inductee R.L. “Bud” Abraham and the individuals that he asked to assist in establishing the association. Contrast this to the well-intentioned early attempts at forming a trade association for the detailing industry, including the Southern California Professional Detailing Association (SCPDA), the Professional Detailing Association (PDA), and the National Association of Professional Detailing and Reconditioning.
Although all three of these early associations did some great things, they all faded away due to lack of continuity of leadership along with not-so-formal foundations that may have ensured greater longevity.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
Since the publishing of last month’s column, I’ve been able to gather the full slate of names of the industry members who were present during the “exploratory committee on the formation of a trade association for the detailing industry” that occurred in early April 2008. Apparently, Bud showed up to this meeting, with the assistance of his daughter Marnie Joseph, with drafts of all the formal paperwork needed to charter the organization. Moreover, Bud had already registered the organization as a non-profit corporation in the state of Oregon. Needless to say, he was prepared.
At that meeting were: IDA Hall of Fame inductee Keith Duplessie, CD-SV, RT; Erik Jeffries, Stephen Romero, Cody Sutherland, and, of course, Bud and Marnie. Without the initial efforts of this cadre, the IDA would not have started. They subsequently reached out to friends in the detailing industry to recruit the first few dozen paying members, which included many supplier members, who really are responsible for funding the establishment of the association.
Shortly thereafter, a nominating committee was formed to solicit nominations for the first board of directors. These were collected through June of 2008, reviewed, and a slate of officers was presented to the IDA membership for voting on August 28, 2008. The first board was ratified by the membership in September and included Erik Jeffries, Stephen Romero, Anthony Flammia, Prentice St. Clair, Rick Goldstein, Yvan Lacroix, and Tom Shurmann.
Each signed oaths of service, including an antitrust statement and a “governance culture statement.” These documents demonstrated the board members’ commitment to run the IDA according to ethical and legal standards of practice.
The very first time this board met was on a conference call on October 29, 2008. Acting executive director Bud Abraham emphasized “we really have no precedent to follow so what this board does is critical to the future of the IDA. You are all trailblazers.” The meeting included discussion of the importance of adherence to anti-trust and governance policies of the IDA, attempts at a first draft of the IDA mission statement, creating a list of priorities for action in 2009, and discussing the possibilities of having a booth and educational sessions at the 2009 Mobile Tech Expo (MTE) and Car Care World Expo.
IDA AT MOBILE TECH EXPO
Of course, we reached out to Kevin Halewood, then owner and director of MTE, to see how the IDA could be involved in this annual convention that had typically attracted many detailers from around the country. It was the perfect venue to splash out the newly formed association.
Kevin, ever gracious, offered the IDA a trade show booth, a room for IDA-sponsored seminars during the “Education Day,” and free entrance for IDA members, one of the first tangible benefits for members. The relationship between IDA and MTE has continued through 2020, proving to be a win-win for both entities. IDA has continued the tradition of offering hours and hours of education, bringing hundreds of detailers to the Expo each year.
MTE has also been the home of the IDA’s annual business meeting and awards ceremony. The IDA booth has always brought together detailers for networking, and we typically sign up many new members.
The board agreed to conduct its first face-to-face meeting on the Sunday following Mobile Tech Expo, since almost all of the board members would already be there. That January 19, 2009 meeting would set precedent for the annual IDA board meetings to take place at MTE, which has been the case through 2020.
At that first meeting, the executive team was voted in by the board and included: Erik Jeffries, president; Stephen Romero, supplier vice president; Anthony Flammia, operator vice president; and Prentice St. Clair, treasurer.
THE IDA’S FIRST FORMAL YEAR
It was a whirlwind of activity. The volunteers listed above continued to meet once a month by phone (as the board does to this day). All of the work done in these early days (as most of it continues to be done today) was performed on a non-paid, volunteer basis. The IDA was built with “sweat equity.”
Committees were identified and staffed with volunteers from the membership, which included 71 as of March of 2009. Committees and their functions included:
• Code of Ethics: to establish a formal process for complaints to be addressed (yes, as of that time, we already had a few grumbling members);
• Membership: to increase membership — without members, the association would be doomed to financial failure;
• Bylaws: to review, edit, and submit to membership for ratification our first draft of the bylaws;
• Compliance and Safety: to establish standards to be published on the website;
• Website/Internet: to create a web presence and hub of information for members and non-members;
• Financial: to formalize the budget and monthly financial review of the association;
• Training and Certification Programs: to begin discussions on the educational programs and certifications that the IDA could offer its members;
• Marketing and Branding: obviously to create and market a “brand” for the IDA and to establish a newsletter.
The board signed an agreement with Association Management Company, an entity set up by Bud with the express intent of providing administrative services to the IDA. Thus, Bud became our first executive director, which was great because he sure had an interest in seeing the IDA succeed.
We also established an “ethics procedure” to be able to deal with any complaints or disagreements that might arise between members, so that these issues could be dealt with in privacy while being reviewed by an independent committee. Fortunately, there have been very few formal ethics reviews opened in our association’s history, and those that have occurred have been handled “in-house” so as to keep the face of the IDA un-smirched.
One of the hurdles we needed to overcome in the first couple of years was convincing members of the detailing community to join the IDA because the community had just endured the failure of the previous association, which inexplicably ceased to exist in early 2008 while continuing to collect dues for a short period of time. This, of course, left a bad taste in the mouths of many.
Getting some detailers to spend money on joining “yet another” detailing association was difficult, even though the IDA dues were 80 percent less than the previous association’s dues. We eventually overcame this issue simply by continuing to exist, moving forward, slowly garnering support, operating in an ethical fashion, and providing increasingly great value to members.
Another, less reasonable objection was the belief among a small cadre of detailers that the IDA was “Bud’s association.” Bud had always been vocal in the detail industry on forums and social media, and I guess some people didn’t always agree with his viewpoints, even though Bud was arguably one of the leaders in modern detailing at the time. He has certainly proven himself an important asset to our industry, enough so to be one of the first few to be inducted into the IDA Hall of Fame in 2020.
And, I must say, Bud never tried to control the IDA. He let the board do that, and Bud performed his duty as our executive director, taking care of all the administrative tasks assigned by the board. Nonetheless, Bud himself suggested that it might be better if we find another management company to take over, both for the reasons mentioned above, along with Bud needing to focus more on operations within his own company, Detail Plus.
So, the IDA sent out a request for proposals to several association management companies. We received three formal RFPs in return. Sheryle Hazard, CAE, with Association Development Services sent in her company’s RFP at the end of April, 2010. Upon review of the board, ADS was the clear choice for us.
ADS took over management of the IDA in early May of 2010, and we had our first board of directors meeting with the new executive director, Sheryle Hazard, face-to-face in Las Vegas on May 14, 2010 (just after ICA’s Car Care World Expo).
WAIT, THERE’S MORE!
It is amazing how much history is wrapped up in the first few years of the IDA. Thus, it will take yet another monthly column to get into some of our biggest accomplishments, like the IDA Certified Detailer Program, the Founder’s Club, and the formation of international chapters. Stay tuned!
Prentice St. Clair is an International Detailing Association Recognized Trainer and Certified Detailer. As the president of Detail in Progress Inc., he has been providing training and consulting to car washes and detail shops since 1999. He is available at (619) 701-1100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.