A.B.A. and B.&C.M.A. in Kansas City, MO
MacKie and Van Laar connect with bakers and suppliers across the country.

KANSAS CITY — With the merger approved between the American Bakers Association and the Biscuit & Cracker Manufacturers’ Association, the organizations are now on the mission to spread the word in the form of a nation-wide tour proclaiming the merger’s theme: Stronger Together.

Robb MacKie, president and chief executive officer of the A.B.A., and Dave Van Laar, senior adviser, president and c.e.o. of the B.&C.M.A., are travelling across the country, speaking with bakers and suppliers, to communicate the opportunities association members will have when the two organizations became one in July. The month-long Stronger Together Tour began on April 17 and in the first two days Mr. MacKie and Mr. Van Laar had stopped at Hearthside Food Solutions, Grand Rapids, Mich.; LeMatic, Inc., Jackson, Mich.; Dawn Foods, Jackson; The Kellogg Co., Battle Creek, Mich.; Best Harvest Bakeries, Kansas City, Kas.; and Sosland Publishing, Kansas City.

“This tour is really to get out in front of each other’s association members,” Mr. MacKie said. “We’re doing a lot of listening on this tour, hearing what our members are seeing in the industry.”

During the visit to Sosland Publishing, Mr. MacKie and Mr. Van Laar discussed what the merger means for member companies and the industry at large. Put simply, members won’t notice any changes in the short run, Mr. MacKie said, other than there are now more resources behind the things the A.B.A. and the B.&C.M.A. were already doing. The A.B.A. will continue to advocate for the baking industry in Washington and the B.&C.M.A. will still provide a complete educational pathway for cookie and cracker professionals. As a unified front, the organizations can now offer services and educational opportunities to virtually every level of the baking industry.

“We have so many deliverables now as an association, from the production floor to the top level, corner offices,” Mr. Van Laar said.

Mr. MacKie and Mr. Van Laar with the combined staffs of the A.B.A. and the B.&C.M.A. are developing the combined organizations’ strategic plan. The groups will review its successful programs like the beginner, mid-level and advanced training courses through the B.&C.M.A. and the popular networking events like the A.B.A. Annual Convention and committee meetings and look for ways to improve them. It also will look for gaps in the industry where the collective association can offer solutions.

“Together, we are now a stronger, unified organization that will offer enhanced, comprehensive services to meet the needs of businesses and the baking in industry,” Mr. MacKie said.

Key to establishing that vision for the future of the association is learning from its members how the combined associations can continue to serve the industry and provide value, and the Stronger Together tour is a means to do just that.