“We want to make sure we maintain what’s important to everyone at B.&C.M.A,” said Mr. Wallin, president of Ellison Bakery, Fort Wayne, Ind. “We want to make sure we address their concerns, and how they are going to be met going forward.”
In March, the A.B.A. and the B.&C.M.A. announced they were beginning a more-than-yearlong process that could result in the merger of the two organizations. Mr. Wallin encouraged member feedback to help the association expedite its due diligence and ensure that the transition teams thoroughly address all issues during the coming months.
“We have the transition team working on the process, but we’re not going to come up with all of the questions,” he said. “That’s why we want to hear from our members.”
He said the proposed merger came about after the B.&C.M.A. hired industry veteran Dave Van Laar as its president in 2014. Back then, the association’s board of directors charged Mr. Van Laar to explore what the organization needed to do to remain relevant in today’s highly competitive environment and in the face of ongoing industry consolidation.
That challenge included discussions with various organizations to see if there were strategic partnerships that would benefit the B.&C.M.A.
“In discussions with A.B.A., everyone recognized there were some synergies with our education platform on the technical side that B.&C.M.A. has long focused on,” Mr. Wallin said. “Years ago, B.&C.M.A. did some lobbying but had gotten out of it, and A.B.A. is phenomenal in that space. Let’s face it: A lot of us on the biscuit and cracker side get a lot of benefits from the lobbying that A.B.A. is doing.”
Mr. Wallin pointed out B.&C.M.A.’s platform of educational initiatives may be transferred and adopted by bread and roll producers who make up a significant percentage of A.B.A. members. Additionally, many broader universal issues such as workplace safety, food safety, allergens and workforce skills gaps provide a common ground among the members of the two associations.
“We’ll try to focus on those areas where we can share information and learn from each other,” Mr. Wallin said.According to the preliminary timetable, the boards of both organizations will vote to approve the merger early next year with an official merger date tentatively set for June 2017.