American Catalog Mailers Association holds first meeting

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BOSTON - The newly formed American Catalog Mailers Association has said it is not looking to promote an adversarial relationship with the Direct Marketing Association.

That was the message from two members of the association who attended its first meeting here yesterday on the opening day of Annual Conference for Catalog and Multichannel Merchants, co-sponsored by the DMA and Multichannel Merchant magazine.

"It's not a cat fight at all," said Mike Muoio, president/CEO of Lillian Vernon.

He was referring to what appeared to some as tension between the two groups after a May 11 letter from the DMA's John A. Greco Jr. to members criticizing some catalogers for their role in the recent postal rate case proceedings. ACMA's executive director Hamilton Davison responded with a letter to Mr. Greco explaining that some catalogers feel the DMA cannot effectively represent the interests of the catalog industry in all circumstances.

"The catalog industry needs to look in the mirror" when it comes to how the recent postage increase came about, Mr. Muoio said.

The increase, about 40 percent for some catalogers, was the industry's punishment for not taking a more active role in its own representation, he said. Letter mailers and periodical mailers each have their own special interest groups that represent their industries for legislative issues in Washington.

"We should have had this organization years ago," Mr. Muoio said.

The meeting drew about 25 attendees and included presentations by the ACMA's law firm and lobbying group, which discussed the postal rate case but also talked about several important legislative issues that are to come, including proposed do-not-mail and do-not-call bills, said James Treis, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Arandell Corp.

The lawyers also discussed how legislation is influenced in Washington.

"At the end of the day the people who showed up got the action" during the recent rate case," said James Treis, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Arandell Corp. "That was the problem with catalogers - they didn't show up."

Facing catalogers in 2008 are high-speed sorting and sequencing requirements that are currently being discussed.

"It's important for us to engage the powers that be as the process takes place," Mr. Davison said.

However, the recent rate hike was a wakeup call. A growing number of catalogers have spoken up and gotten involved in the past couple of months, hence the formation of the ACMA, which has about 40 members.

Catalogers should find out in the next two weeks whether the recent rate hike will be readjusted.

The ACMA'a Board of Directors, elected yesterday, includes chair Neil Sexton of Northern Safety Co.; vice president and treasurer Mark Taxel of Positive Promotions; vice president of membership Ralph Drybrough of MeritDirect; Allen Abbott of Paul Frederick Menstyle; Bruce Jensen of Transcontinental Printing; Mike Muoio, president/CEO of Lillian Vernon; Andy Ostroy of BelardiOstroy/ALC New York; Don Treis of Arandell Corp.; and Steve Trollinger of J. Schmid Associates.

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