Be a NEMOA Person
Writing this issue of The Corner View from Cambridge, Mass., during the Spring NEMOA conference this week, I found myself reflecting on the types of people who attend this conference, as well as the types of people in this industry today. Although the catalog business has undergone much consolidation over the years, which has stripped some companies of their entrepreneurial spirit, when you come to a NEMOA, it reinforces the industry’s ages-old character.
NEMOA people are warm, caring, entrepreneurial and very social. They share a unique passion for the catalog business. In many respects, they’re indicative of the traditional cataloger. But guess what? They’re hardly dinosaurs. Those I’ve seen here run the gamut in age. Some I’ve known for years, others were attending their first NEMOA. But age doesn’t matter at NEMOA: Everybody here’s eager to learn, share ideas and meet up with their peers.
During his lunch presentation on March 22, industry trailblazer Tim Litle gave a retrospective of the 60 years of NEMOA and how the catalog business’s growth and change has comparison. Tim made me feel both old and young. Having covered this business for a little more than 20 years now, I particularly appreciated Tim’s reflections of the ’70s when I was still in high school. When he reached the mid-80s, however, I found myself feeling the top of my head for all the hair I’ve lost since then.
But when Tim talked about the entrepreneurial spirit and the cooperative bond that’s always been found at NEMOA conferences, it didn’t seem to make a difference which era he was talking about. And I felt it first-hand at other sessions and cocktail parties here this week. Most everybody wants to help each other; at the same time, most everybody is looking for help.
I attended my first NEMOA about 15 years ago. NEMOA types then vs. now aren’t much different. They’re the types that’ll help the catalog/multichannel business grow and survive rising postage and other obstacles. And if the business ever needed this, it’s right now with a huge postal rate increase on the horizon.