A.B.A. and B.&C.M.A. merger signing
Dave Van Laar, second from the right, president and chief executive officer of the B.&.C.M.A., and Robb MacKie, far right, president and c.e.o. of the A.B.A., participated in a signing ceremony during the 2017 all membership meeting of the American Bakers Association. Watching over the signing were Erin Sharp, (back left) Kroger Co., and William Quigg, Richmond Baking Co. Ms. Sharp and Mr. Quigg are members of the Transition Steering Committee.

For Dave Van Laar, president and chief executive officer of the Biscuit & Cracker Manufacturers Association (B.&C.M.A.), the merger process is almost over and a new journey begins. About two years ago, the group recruited Mr. Van Laar, one of its former chairmen, to explore its future of the organization and a potential partnership with another industry association. The goal, he added, was to discover how B.&.C.M.A. could best leverage its “legacy of education” — including its annual technical conference and e-learning programs — that had become its hallmark over the past two decades.

The American Bakers Association (A.B.A.) was one of six organizations contacted by Mr. Van Laar over several months.

“They — A.B.A. — got it from day one,” Mr. Van Laar said.

Today, an enthusiastic Mr. Van Laar described the merger with the A.B.A. a “near perfect fit,” noting the two organizations complement each other’s missions and have little, if any, overlap in baker membership.

“For the industry, it’s monumental,” Mr. Van Laar said during the B.&C.M.A. annual convention. “When we look at synergy, the potential within the industry, it’s almost exponential. The two organizations are so closely aligned yet so different in focus that we bring these two alignments together, and it’s almost laser-focused on the industry.”

With the merger, B.&C.M.A. essentially becomes the education arm of A.B.A., said Mr. Van Laar, who will assume the title of senior adviser to Robb MacKie, president and c.e.o. of the A.B.A. Much to the delight of Mr. Van Laar, Kathy Kitner Phelps, B.&C.M.A.’s member and education manager, and Vanessa Vial, communications and eLearning manager, will join A.B.A.’s staff.

Congratulations to the two organizations. One question: What took so long? They were a near perfect fit a decade ago.