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Rocca: ATA Has Replenished Its Strength

PHOENIX — Appearing for the last time as chairman of the American Teleservices Association, Tom Rocca assured members yesterday that the ATA had rebounded financially and was prepared to fight for the industry in the future.

Rocca, who spoke here at the ATA's 20th Annual Convention and Exhibition, is at the end of his term. He will be replaced by vice chairwoman Lisa DeFalco of TPG Telemanagement for the 2003-04 term.

Rocca said that the convention, which has drawn $350,000 in sponsorships, was more successful than it had been in years. The ATA's last two conventions were hurt by outside events — stormy weather in the case of last year's show in New Orleans, and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001 that came just two weeks before the ATA show in Las Vegas.

The ATA also has rebounded from the chairmanship of Gordon McKenna, who left under a cloud of criticism about the handling of his company in 2001, and from a financial controversy under the former management of J. Scott Thornton that nearly bankrupted the association in 1999.

Rocca praised ATA executive director Tim Searcy, who took over the association's management earlier this year from Management Options Inc. and is credited with building the ATA's strategic defense fund to pay for its legal challenge to the national no-call list.

“We're trying to get back to the strength we once had,” Rocca said.

New ATA board members introduced at the convention include Steve Eulie of J.P. Morgan/Chase; Orlando Zayas of GE Financial Assurance; Phil Grudzinski of Sears Life Insurance; Mark Boehmer of Verizon; and Todd Schubert of Bank of America.

The additions are notable because they come from telemarketing user companies instead of telemarketing service and technology providers or consulting agencies.

“A lot of it is just image and perception,” Rocca said. “We want to show that there are a lot of Fortune 500 companies — even Fortune 50 companies — that use this media channel.”

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