Dear Visual Media Alliance Member,
Thank you for your membership over the past year. I know how difficult it has been for our industry, and all of us at Visual Media Alliance value and appreciate your continuing support. As a valued member, we want to update you on an important recent development.
Effective March 31, 2021, Visual Media Alliance (VMA) will be ending our contractual relationship with PRINTING United Alliance (PrUA).
As you may know, in January 2020 Printing Industries of America (PIA) merged with Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) to form PRINTING United Alliance (PrUA). The goal of the merger was a unified organization which would expand the services for all of PIA’s former regional affiliates as well as continue to grow a strong national trade show. With much optimism for this combined national organization, the merger was approved unanimously by the PIA board of directors as well as the regional affiliate’s boards. Unfortunately, the affiliate’s vision of the merger and that which was recently proposed by PrUA differ greatly.
In January 2021, PrUA President Ford Bowers, in a presentation made to the regional affiliates, outlined his vision for the future direction of PrUA. In stark contrast to PIA’s historic relationship with the affiliates, PrUA seeks to take direct control of the day-to-day operations of PIA’s former affiliates, including VMA. Bowers also expects that all investments and revenues of the affiliates be turned over to PrUA.
The VMA Board of Directors has evaluated the service offerings as well as the revised direction that PrUA envisions. While we support the concept of a united print industry, we believe that the stated future direction of PrUA is not in the long-term best interest of our VMA membership.
In his proposal, Bowers calls for a “commodification” of services offered across the country through the various regional affiliates. The state of California is a unique place to do business. We at VMA know how important it is to provide state-specific experts to help our members navigate human resources, environmental services, regulatory, sales tax, and insurance issues. It simply isn’t possible to provide these services from Virginia. Additionally, were Bowers’ proposal accepted, it would quickly eliminate local services, industry connection, and person-to-person networking – the core values which form the relationship between our members and VMA.
While PrUA does provide certain benefits to our members, more than 90% of all services utilized by members are local, and many like Visual Media Access (VMAccess.org) and Wage & Benefits Survey and Reports are in combination with our fellow affiliates. ThinkHR, PIBT Insurance, BASYS Credit Card Processing, Prudential Overall Supply, FedEx, FSC Certification, and Apple are just some of our direct partners providing products and services–as well as discounts–for VMA members. Additionally, we will be rolling out several new discount programs during the first quarter of 2021, including MetLife Auto & Home, AT&T, and PrintReleaf Certification. We have revamped our Job Center, and through our scholarship program we have funded a record 20 graphic arts students this year. VMA programs and services will only continue to expand to meet the needs of our local members.
VMA has been in existence since 1935, and our relationship with our valued members has never been more important. Our webinars and online Collective Conversations have been extremely popular this past year for sharing information and keeping our members informed. An even more significant strength of VMA comes from the leadership of our Board of Directors. These industry leaders help identify and lead the development of relevant programs and services for our VMA members.
VMA also has a very close partnership with our two sister affiliates here in California: PIA Southern California and PIA San Diego, to provide insurance, state lobbying, and expert advice on regulatory matters. A great example of this partnership is our newly-launched website Executive Toolbox (executivetoolbox.org) for resources and management tools.
As a separately incorporated association, VMA will continue our long partnership with the other 15-20 former-PIA affiliates across the country. We also will continue to seek out other national associations to partner with in order to bolster our government affairs voice in Washington.
While it is unfortunate that the planned partnership with PrUA did not succeed, VMA has always offered alternatives for the services which PrUA inherited from PIA, and we will continue to improve upon these as well as create new programs and services to support you, our valued members. If you have any questions about this decision, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 415-489-7626.
Visual Media Alliance