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TSEA and EACA announce plans to merge

By a vote of its Board, the Trade Show Exhibitors Association (TSEA) has chartered a new course in management and membership structure. The association will transfer its members, intellectual assets and administrative management, to the Exhibitor Appointed Contractor Association (EACA).

Pending final approval of this agreement by TSEA’s members, the association will be dissolved and a newly named umbrella industry association, under the management of Jim Wurm, EACA’s executive director, will be formed to serve the needs and goals of both the EACA and TSEA’s members. All active EACA and TSEA members will have member privileges in the new organization.

“The EACA presented a plan that would benefit our members,” said Margit Weisgal, president and CEO of TSEA. “But everything is still in transition.”

Over the last few years, the TSEA has steadily been incurring debts and losing income. The association has also seen a decrease in active membership. Despite these losses, the TSEA chose to push on with daily operations, ultimately causing its demise.

As part of the transfer, the EACA will acquire all TSEA members, their corresponding member data, all financial records, educational content and any related marketing assets.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for greater visibility and advocacy for our members in the exhibit industry,” said Wurm. “By having both exhibitors and their contractors under the same organization, we can work together to better serve the industry and to advocate for the issues members most need. And although our current organization’s names will change, our values will not. Our members’ priorities will always be those of the new association.”

One of the main facets of the TSEA is its Certified Manager of Exhibits (CME) program. Through the CME course, exhibit managers earn certification into an elite group of industry professionals. Based on real, on-the-job experience, the CME certification lends credibility to anyone in the tradeshow industry.

The entire educational CME program is expected to continue with the change over.
“I think this is a good move,” she Weisgal. “We completed an agreement with UNLV recently. UNLV was the first university to include tradeshows as part of its curriculum, so it was a natural fit for us.”

Last week, the TSEA LinkedIn group was host to a conversation about what members “expect from associations.”

Comments on the LinkedIn thread were all positive narrations of why the TSEA matters and how it has helped businesses throughout the industry.

“Associations have come under fire as of late in validating their value and importance,” wrote David Mihalik, CEO of ELITeXPO and TSEA’s allied director. “While researching this week, I am reminded that TSEA was formed in 1966. The business climate back then when TSEA was formed is much different from the world we live in today. I still feverishly believe that TSEA is important and needs to remain vital in our industry… There is strength in numbers and TSEA needs more support from everyday exhibitors. So for your valuable budget dollars spent, what do you expect from TSEA? What makes you a member or WILL make you a member?”

Although the EACA plans to completely back TSEA’s members some chapters will not stay with the association through the change.
The Operating Council of the Windy City Chapter of the TSEA, for example, unanimously agreed to dissolve the chapter, effective immediately.

“The Windy City Chapter has enjoyed very active education and networking in the Chicagoland area for more than two decades,” said Michael Seymour, chapter chair. “The decision to dissolve was based upon the operating council’s opinions that it would be an appropriate time to end the group’s activity.”

Once the agreement between TSEA and EACA is finalized with member’s votes, those involved with the TSEA will immediately receive email notification that outlines the new and improved membership structure and the terms of the asset transfer. Once the agreement is ratified, EACA will begin the transition to the new association name.

Under this new plan, TSEA members will not only receive all member values they enjoyed previously, but will also be able to take advantage of the comprehensive suite of member tools on the new association website, including social media tools, online forums, survey tools and self-provisioned member profile management. The new association will also continue its plans for the 2012 Red Diamond Congress as its primary annual event.

Details about the merger will be decided at the EACA’s meeting on Monday, March 5 during EXHIBITOR2012.

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