The International Mailers’ Advisory Group reorganized this month into a nonprofit association after the U.S. Postal Service decided not to continue as its sponsor.
“The biggest reason we’ve made this change was because the USPS felt that they could no longer bear as much of the expense as they had been,” said executive director Richard Miller, adding that the postal service paid much of his salary to run the organization.
Another reason, Miller said, was because postal officials were becoming concerned that “as we became more of a spokesvehicle for the industry, our views might not always necessarily reflect theirs and that maybe there ought to be more separation here between church and state.”
To replace the funding loss, IMAG will increase dues starting Jan. 1. Fees currently are $750 a year, but in 2006 will be based on a graduated schedule of $500 for an individual consultant; $1,000 for companies with up to 25 employees; and $1,500 for companies with more than 25 employees.
IMAG was formed in 1997 as an international advisory group to the USPS. It also is a founding member of the new Consultative Committee of the Universal Postal Union and has been involved in international address standards and other cross-border initiatives.
At a member meeting this month, Joe Schick, director of postal affairs at QuadGraphics, was elected chairman. The organization relaunches its Web site Dec. 1; the site is at www.the-imag.org.
In deciding to cease its sponsorship, “it seemed to us that IMAG itself has matured, stabilized, gotten itself established now and is able to stand on its own,” said Michael Regan, USPS director of international postal affairs.
Regan also said it would benefit IMAG to have no formal USPS sponsorship so “when it is participating in any UPU activities or any kind of public forum, it is clearly speaking on its own behalf. It’s not representing USPS interests, it is representing its own interests.”
However, Regan said, this doesn’t mean the postal service is uninterested in continuing to work with IMAG.
“We absolutely need to have a relationship,” he said. “We have encouraged them to apply for a status within [the Mailers’ Technical Advisory Committee].”
Miller said IMAG will apply to be a member of MTAC. It could not previously.
“Hopefully, by the end of this month through middle of December, we will have sent in our formal application,” he said. “But it cannot be approved until MTAC’s executive committee [meets] in February. Because we had such a tight relationship with the postal service, we were sort of a strange animal.”
Schick said IMAG will seek support from a broader cross section of the mail and parcel industry. Membership now consists of large U.S. outbound mailers and vendors.
“We will consider applications from any major players in the industry who feel they can contribute to our mission,” he said. “Our new mission statement specifically notes that we want to support the growth of international postal and private delivery networks.”
Other officers elected were John Michell, vice president of commercial and government affairs, International Mail Express, as vice chairman; Susan Adams, director, vice president of international services, R.R. Donnelley Logistics, as treasurer; and John Ward, vice president and general manager, mail services, Pitney Bowes, as secretary.
Melissa Campanelli covers postal news, CRM and database marketing for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters