Two major North American associations for the HVAC industry, GAMA and ARI, are discussing a merger of the organizations.
GAMA, An Association of Appliance and Equipment Manufacturers, is based in Arlington, Virginia, U.S. and was long known as the Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association. The scope of the association now encompasses oil-fired and electric equipment.
ARI is the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute, also in Arlington. It represents manufacturers of North American-produced central air-conditioning and commercial refrigeration equipment.
Together, the associations represent more than 90 percent of North American HVAC/R manufacturers. Because of their obvious synergies, and about 30 shared member companies, there have been talks in previous years about bringing the two associations together.
A letter sent yesterday to association members, signed jointly by GAMA Chairman William S. Rafferty and ARI Chairman Robert Wilkins, indicates the discussions may be more significant this time around. Rafferty and Wilkins sent the letter to inform members about a meeting held during the recent AHR Expo to discuss the benefits of a potential merger. The Study Group meeting included Rafferty and Wilkins, several past chairman from both associations, and legal counsel. The Study Group focused on the strategic, rather than economic, impacts of such an association merger, and sought to address some critical questions.
- Would a combined association be aligned on the issues that impact its members?
- Would it be more effective, and able to accomplish more, than GAMA and ARI could accomplish independently?
- Would the combination result in improved or increased member services and greater opportunities for professional development and career growth for association staff?
The Answer: Possibly
"Consensus emerged that the above-mentioned benefits could possibly be achieved through a combination, and that it deserved more thorough consideration," said Rafferty and Wilkins in their communiqué. With that decided, it was determined to move ahead with the formation of subcommittees to examine potential benefits or pitfalls in three specific areas: government affairs, certification, and staff and administration.
The letter from the chairmen said the investigation "Seeks to achieve a balance between due diligence and the need to avoid an extended period of uncertainty for both organizations. The group has set an aggressive, but not inflexible, timetable." After getting approval from ARI and GAMA Executive Committees, the Study Group will proceed on the next steps:
- The three committees will be formed soon and report on their progress to the Study Group within 30 days (of February 8). "This is not a deadline for a recommendation, but rather is an effort to expedite the process," the letter emphasizes.
- After receiving the committee reports, the Study Group will meet and provide a recommendation to the Executive Committees of GAMA and ARI on possible next steps.
"We want this process be as inclusive as possible," the chairmen wrote, and recommended that all members of ARI and GAMA express their views directly to members of the Study Group or to the members of ARI’s and GAMA’s Executive Committees.
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