Effective last December, the North American Power Sweeping Association (NAPSA) has joined forces with Association Headquarters Inc., a 30-year-old association management company in Mount Laurel, NJ, to handle the day-to-day administrative responsibilities of NAPSA.
The decision by NAPSA follows a long-range strategic planning meeting NAPSA's board held in Philadelphia last August. "Fifteen companies stopped what they were doing, paid for everything on their own dime, and spent three days to come together to decide what to do to help move NAPSA and the contract sweeping industry forward," says Carl Barton, Aardvark Sweeping and incoming NAPSA president. "That was very impressive to me."
"Our organizational and business needs have grown along with our membership," said Dale McCaskill, Southco Sweeping & Maintenance and current NAPSA president. "AH has a proven track record helping grow organizations, while at the same time saving money and time through the use of their professional staff. Add to that membership growth, help providing additional services, and benefits for our members and you have all the ingredients for success."
NAPSA had undergone a number of management changes, including a stint where, as Contract Sweepers Institute (CSI), it was under the umbrella of the American Public Works Association (APWA). But the sweeping association experienced its greatest growth and made its greatest advances after members decided in 2000 CSI needed to strike out on its own. Since then it has been run basically by volunteers, and what started with 25 members has grown to more than 350 with broad support from manufacturers and suppliers.
Barton, who will assume the NAPSA presidency at National Pavement Expo, said the board has been discussing some of the obstacles to growth for a volunteer organization and met in August to determine how best to handle them.
"We have a lot of great ideas but lack the follow through to get them all done," Barton says. "We had a one-person office and when you have one person who's doing everything, everything gets put on hold when the phone rings.
"This arrangement makes all the sense in the world for us at this time. We could never afford the manpower that we're going to be able to get now because the reality is we don't need all that manpower all the time. We need it when we need it, and this arrangement allows us to get the support we need when we need it."
Another important outcome of the meeting was a strategic plan NAPSA put in place, which includes setting up nine task forces to study various aspects of the association -a move suggested by AH. Barton says NAPSA had always worked through committees, which are open-ended and generally last for years.
Among the areas identified for a task force are membership, accounting, benefits, and website development. Barton says that decision has already borne fruit as most of the nine task forces have completed their assignments and turned in reports as part of developing a 5-year plan.
Barton says NAPSA envisions being able to offer members a lot more benefits -and the follow through to go with them. With that in mind, a 2009 membership drive is the first big step under the new organization.
In addition to growing the organization, Barton says the membership drive will make current NAPSA members more aware of the benefits readily available to them and make the benefits readily available to members through the website. Barton says NAPSA members currently can learn about NAPSA benefits from the website but can't take advantage of them without calling in to the office. He says that will change quickly.
Barton says the crux of this first phase of the membership drive is to upgrade the website (www.napsaonline.com), which he expects to be completed by the end of the first quarter.
"We have three goals, in order," he says. "First, we want to benefit the current membership. In addition to enabling better access to member benefits we intend to provide tools, an estimating tool for example, they can access from the site to help them in their everyday operation. We also want to get a library online that members can access."