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The event did not reflect the turbulence, hard work and often difficult negotiations that go part and parcel with change. The formation of I.D.A. included some battles; it necessarily required the loss for some of long-held traditions as well as power. The same has been true of the relationship between I.D.A. and ISMA since the formation of I.D.A.
The conflicts were for the most part natural, arising from fundamentally different missions and perspectives distributors and manufacturers hold. These won't disappear automatically with a new association. But the focus of the new Industrial Supply Association (ISA) clearly is different. It's a matter of survival. Bill Todd had it right when he focused on the word 'alignment.' That's as true today as a decade ago.
ISA has an opportunity to create a clear value proposition at a time when distributors and manufacturers have more resources for education, networking, marketing, selling and buying than ever before, through buying groups, coops, master wholesalers and the Internet. ISA has created the foundation and the right framework to move forward and wrestle the challenges ahead.
This column is not to rehash old conflicts, but rather acknowledge the hard work and dedication of those people, many not in the industry today, who cared about these two institutions enough to fight for what they believed. Those who carried the ball the last ten yards made the goal.