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Notes from the Washington, DC AESF Delegates Meeting

by Paul Fisher
Southern Metal Finishing - Rutherfordton, NC USA

This article was published in the June 06 issue of Southern Metal Finishing. If you would like register to receive our free newsletter and review our online archives please visit

A very unusual delegates meeting was called to order by our President Fred Mueller at 2:12 pm, with 25 branches represented by Delegates and Proxies. President Mueller soon turned the floor over to Jolie Zak who announced that a delegates meeting such as this one has never been held in the history of the AESF.

Before beginning her presentation, Mrs. Zak half-heartedly attempted to assure delegates that in spite of the rumors floating around the industry, she would be honored to serve as President of the AESF "even if a Merger of the Associations did not take place".

She began her presentation with a membership report that not even the membership chairman was privy to. She stated that the AESF currently had approximately 2,700 existing members. She then explained that since memberships did not expire on the same date as a whole it was never the same exact number each day.

Mrs. Zak then went into a power point presentation that began with the new "AESF Strategy" as follows:

After outlining these strategies she reviewed all of the work NaVista (our new Association Management Firm) has accomplished towards these goals. There were many parallel items in this presentation with the business plan submitted by the AESF for the Future Committee to the Delegates and Board prior to the meeting. Some brilliant ideas were outlined that basically showed to all Delegates that the AESF is a very viable organization that could be re-invigorated in short order. She made a great case for Vista, showing the very professional work they have done for the AESF to date.

The floor was then turned over to Peter Gallerani, MSF and Pat Gleeson for a presentation on all of the consolidation work that has been done to date. Peter stumbled his way through what was to become a very lengthy and unexciting explanation of the consolidation efforts.

Pat Gleeson jumped in and informed the delegates that the current discussion on the Transition Board is leaning towards asking each association to "go dormant" rather than dissolving. Most of the Delegates realized at that point that if this happens (the AESF "going dormant"), it would no longer technically have any members, and at that very point in time cease to exist as is has for nearly 100 years.

Pat Gleason then continued with a description of the new NASF board of 18 members. A very confusing organizational chart showed that AESF would be responsible for electing 6 of the 18 proposed board members. Pat then got his groove on as he described the "Former AESF" while talking about the proposed dues structure, which is seen to be unfavorable to the common individual AESF member who would rather not "buy" their vote. To this point Pete and Pat tried to reassure the delegates that in spite of the weighted voting privileges in favor of the corporate giant memberships in the proposed consolidation structure; they believed that average AESF members (who have approximately 1/10th the voting power) would still be able to rise to the top and be leaders of the proposed new NASF.

This not so dynamic duo then informed the Delegates that the legal documents pertaining to their consolidation efforts will be ready by June 10th, just in time to be published in the Journal for the required 45 days prior to Sur-Fin. They also hope to have this consolidation document distributed to all of the boards by June 30.

Duly noted at this point, Mrs. Zak interrupted the discussion to inform the delegates that she had a plane to catch - and left the meeting early.

In the last hour of the meeting there was significant discussion about the recent meeting in Boca Raton, and other board meetings that excluded average AESF members and leadership from attending. It was said that owners and others well to do will still create and attend meetings and gatherings in warm places in the wintertime. It was suggested by the delegates that if this were so, these "Boon Doggles" should never take place with AESF money.

Pat Gleeson informed the Delegates that they should expect to vote on the Thursday of Sur-Fin on a motion to accept a by-law change allowing the Board to be Governed by NASF, who's first order of business will be to dismiss all of AESF membership by sending the Society into "Dormancy".

All of the delegates were instructed to attempt to put together special Board meetings between now and Sur-Fin. The meeting should be held specifically to share relevant information and discuss the upcoming vote on the bylaws change. Branches must make an informed decision this September and should review all options.

Throughout the entire Delegates meeting nothing was mentioned about the new business plan developed by the "AESF for the Future" Committee. By the time the CoD meeting was called to order, bound copies of the plan had been distributed to each of the board members and downloaded over 300 times by the AESF membership. Still the Board refused to bring up discussion on any ideas that contradict consolidation.

Finally, just prior to the conclusion of the meeting, the Delegates asked Pat Gleeson to take the time to create a pro/con chart that compares AESF going it alone with a "New Plan" VS the Consolidation Plan that he has previously spent so much of his time on. Pat agreed to make this comparison chart available to the delegates within two weeks which would be around the time you are reading this article. When and if this comparison chart become available we'll let everyone know and post it on our website.

In the mean time I encourage everyone to participate in the lively discussion surrounding the issues of the Future of the AESF with your branch leaders and members. We've set up a on-line bulletin board at that will allow anyone interested to post comments, criticism, and suggestions. Later this month we will post a power point presentation available for download, outlining the path to a new independent, self-sustaining AESF of the Future.

Paul Fisher
Southern Metal Finishing

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