Van Dorst Out at DMSA as Group Moves to E-Commerce

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AMSTERDAM - The Dutch Direct Marketing Association, DMSA, is in the throes of major reorganization to fit it for the e-commerce age, a process that forced out Dr. Frits Van Dorst, the group's managing director for 14 years.

Known as "Mr. DMSA," Van Dorst clashed with the board over proposals to restructure DMSA to deal with strong membership growth - its has 650 companies in a country of 15 million - and provide better support for members, especially in the e-commerce arena.

"We thought the structure in which we serve members was not adequate anymore so we have been talking for 18 months about how to reorganize it," said Adrian Polderman, the board member designated as spokesman.

"We came up with the idea of an organization based on different councils - an e-commerce council, a BTB council, a sales promotion council and so on - that would allow us to delegate authority to the council boards.

"This will make sure that these boards are as close to the market as possible. So much is going on out there that the distance between the market and the general board of DMSA was becoming too big."

In the process of reorganization the board also looked at the "performance problems" in the DMSA office in terms of serving members. "So in any new structure you have to make sure that the office performance is okay," he said.

As the discussions continued, Polderman explained, major differences of opinion arose between the board and Van Dorst on how to go about doing so.

"Unluckily, and I don't like the idea, the discussion ended in concluding that the way the board and Frits looked at reorganizing the office were so far away from each other that we had better split."

As differences sharpened Van Dorst resigned - or was forced to. Polderman did not want to commit on just what happened.

Pieter di Jong, a former chairman of the European Direct Marketing Association (EDMA) and its successor, FEDMA, will run the DMSA until May.

"We are either going to look for a new Frits Van Dorst or discuss a model where we hire a paid board chairman who comes in for a few days a week to give real leadership to the office," he said.

"My personal opinion is that we should hire a new Frits Van Dorst. We need a manager in this job, someone, with so many things happening, who can keep up."

Polderman opposes junking the old ways and said he was looking for a bridge builder.

"We need someone who can build bridges between the two DM cultures - electronic and traditional - but who understands that the world is professionalizing and that DMSA cannot afford to remain a social club," he said.

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