A.B.A. and B.&C.M.A. actively exploring merger

by Josh Sosland
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A merger of the American Bakers Association and the Biscuit and Cracker Manufacturers’ Association is under active consideration.

WASHINGTON – A merger of the American Bakers Association and the Biscuit and Cracker Manufacturers’ Association, two groups with combined histories totaling 235 years, is under active consideration, the associations jointly announced March 20.

The boards of directors of both organizations have passed resolutions to commence a year-long process to allow for a thorough examination of potential synergies and other benefits of bringing the two organizations together.

As currently planned, programs of the B.&C.M.A. would be enveloped under the A.B.A. structure while the B.&.C.M.A. brand would be retained for the group’s technical conference and on-line learning programs.

Richard G. Scalise, outgoing chairman of the A.B.A., announced the agreement during the group’s annual meeting at the Arizona Biltmore hotel in Phoenix. Mr. Scalise, who is chairman and chief executive officer of Hearthside Food Solutions, described the potential merger as “an opportunity to strengthen the baking industry.”

“Both A.B.A. and B.&C.M.A. are stable, financially healthy organizations serving their constituents with a wide range of successful programs and services,” he said. “This initiative seeks to build on each organization’s strengths to achieve a stronger future together. We are very excited about possibly building upon B.&C.M.A.’s outstanding education platforms to fill gaps in the broader baking industry’s leadership and technical training regimens.”

Bill Quigg, a past chairman of the B.&C.M.A. and president of Richmond, Ind.-based Richmond Baking, emphasized the benefits of an alliance with the A.B.A. to “help provide higher levels of service and value for our members and organizations.”

Bill Quigg, past chairman of the B.&C.M.A. and president of Richmond Baking

“A.B.A.’s extraordinary advocacy program, regular trends research and partnership with the Grain Foods Foundation on the category promotion efforts of the Grain Foods Foundation would all add tremendous value to B.&C.M.A. members,” he said.

As currently envisaged, “current B.&C.M.A. leadership would join the A.B.A. leadership at all levels,” the groups said.

During the year-long process, a transition committee will conduct due diligence, address governance and structural issues and elicit feedback from members of each organization. Members of the transition steering committee will include, from the A.B.A., Mr. Scalise; Erin Sharp, The Kroger Co.; and Robb MacKie, A.B.A.; and from the B.&C.M.A., Mr. Quigg; Todd Wallin, Ellison Baking Co.; and Dave Van Laar, B.&C.M.A.

The process will feature webinars and surveys to gain membership feedback. Consideration of a final merger recommendation is tentatively scheduled for March 2017 with a prospective closing date of June 30, 2017.

“What began as general conversations over potential partnerships evolved into wide‐ranging discussions over how best to serve our respective members,” said Mr. MacKie, president and chief executive officer of the A.B.A. “Dave and the B.&C.M.A. leadership deserve tremendous credit for their willingness to explore a whole range of options to better serve the broader baking industry.”

Dave Van Laar, president and c.e.o. of the B.&C.M.A.

Mr. Van Laar, president and c.e.o. of the B.&C.M.A., said the decision to actively explore the merger followed a look at a range of partnering opportunities for the nation’s leading cookie-cracker group.

“It was clear the place to be was with A.B.A.,” he said. “Rich and Robb have such high integrity we quickly developed a strong trust with their commitment to building a stronger organization.”

The A.B.A., based in Washington, represents the wholesale baking industry before the U.S. Congress, federal agencies and international regulatory authorities. The focus of the B.&C.M.A., headquartered in Columbia, Md., principally is directed toward education, training and networking opportunities for its members.
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