The Editor’s Take: Weighing in on the New Catalog Group
For years, I’ve tried hard to appreciate what the Direct Marketing Association and the Association for Postal Commerce (PostCom) have stood for and done for catalogers. But from a cataloger’s perspective, both groups always struck me as a little flawed. In some respects, they resemble this country’s government. What’s good for New Yorkers isn’t necessarily the right thing for South Dakotans or even Californians.
Likewise, what’s good for Standard letter mailers isn’t always the right thing for catalogers — who account for about 75 percent of Standard mail flats — especially when it comes to setting postal rates.
Both trade groups have always had sharp people in place. Nobody knows postal better than Jerry Cerasale, the DMA’s postal lobbyist, or PostCom’s tireless president, Gene Del Polito — and that includes many U.S. Postal Service executives.
So in light of this year’s postal rate case debacle, in April a group of catalogers and catalog vendors created a new group called the American Catalog Mailers Association (ACMA). Unlike a similarly frustrated group that vainly attempted to splinter from the DMA and PostCom some 15 years ago, this one’s a nonprofit 501(c)6 organization that hired an outsider to run it, has a board of directors in place, and is collecting a $5,000 initiation fee from the 40-plus catalog members that have signed up so far — although actual dues have yet to be determined.
Though unfamiliar to most catalogers, its director, Hamilton Davison, is both a veteran businessman and industry association servant, having created and run the Cardsmart retail chain and having served as director of the Greeting Card Association since 1986.
Catalog Vets Unite
The ACMA is led by several catalog veterans, including board Chairman Neil Sexton of Northern Safety Co. and Vice President of Membership Ralph Drybrough of MeritDirect. A number of veteran catalog and catalog supplier executives, such as Lillian Vernon’s Mike Muoio and Arandell Corp.’s Jim Treis, are on the board.