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Issue Date: Vol. 48, No. 10, October 2008, Posted On: 10/10/2008


NAMA EXPANDS ETHICS CAMPAIGN: Newest Program Elements Are Presented In Open Letter To The Industry

CHICAGO — The National Automatic Merchandising Association is expanding its ethics campaign to help operators who conduct business honestly and ethically, according to an open letter from NAMA. The letter about industry ethics was released on September 26 and signed by NAMA chairman of the board Jim Brinton, NCE, J.E. Hicks, NCE, Ethics Committee chairman, and NAMA president and chief executive Richard M. Geerdes, NCE. The newest aspect of the campaign will be discussed at the NAMA National Expo in St. Louis, October 15-17, and will be explained in more depth in the Buyer’s Corner Thursday, October 16, in the afternoon.

 

The letter said:

 

“Our industry is facing tough times, with operators working harder than ever for a bottom line that allows for future growth, investment in technology and sustainability. Competition is hard enough but when the playing field is not level, we all lose.  

 

Business practices influence public perception. NAMA’s Code of Ethics, in response to concerns about industry ethical practices, addresses integrity, sound financial reporting practices, cleanliness, service practices, safety, employee relations and community citizenship, the values that NAMA and its members stand for. It’s been the core for NAMA’s work to improve our industry’s image and raise professionalism by driving business conduct beyond reproach. 

 

The Code of Ethics was just the first step of a long-term program created to achieve those goals. It was followed by audit standards to assist accountants in identifying unethical financial practices when auditing vending companies and a widespread emphasis on ethics in NAMA Education and at Expos. Many have welcomed the Code to strengthen the public's respect for the industry, using it in sales proposals and company mission statements, showing customers our industry cares about ethical business practices.

 

So it was and remains a strong first step. But, by law, NAMA does not have the ability to enforce the Code, which has blunted momentum. Tough economic times only provide more impetus for some operators to skimp on Integrity and Honesty with underreporting sales for commission and sales tax purposes at the heart of it. NAMA has looked long and hard at third-party ethical certification, developing and testing various concepts. While voluntary third-party certification can be made to work, the cost rules it out for virtually all but a handful of today’s operators.

 

The most viable option is client education about ethical practices, making the demand for integrity and the systems that make it possible, common-place. Such a program is best delivered by operators to their clients, backed-up by a coordinated national campaign by NAMA. Acting in the best industry interests, this program will give operators the tools they need to educate clients and it positions NAMA to support them with public relations and other client-messaging programs.

 

Companies that cheat drag us all down and the time has come for that to stop. Our industry must stamp out unethical and non-professional business practices. The effort to do so will be no small task but bringing back true competition will only benefit our clients, our customers and NAMA members everywhere.

 

The NAMA Chairman of the Board will announce this program at the National Expo in St Louis. Be there to learn how you can help restore the image and respect our industry deserves.”

 

The newest elements in the program will be explained in more detail by Chairman Brinton at the Opening General Session in St. Louis, Thursday morning.  In addition, Brinton, Hicks and Geerdes will all participate in a special session in the Buyer’s Corner where attendees can learn more about the latest elements in the program.  Specifically, the three will share details of a special Operator Tool Kit that honest and ethical operators can share with their accounts.  Other elements of the campaign will eventually include an educational campaign designed to show account decision makers how to distinguish between ethical and unethical operators. 

 

For more information about the Ethics program or the Hot Topic at NAMA, call Jackie Clark at (301) 987-7113 or email her at jclark@clarkcommunicationsonline.com.

 

NAMA is the national trade association of the food and refreshment vending, coffee service and foodservice management industries including on-site, commissary, catering, & mobile. Its membership is comprised of service companies, equipment manufacturers and suppliers of products and services to operating service companies.  The basic mission of the association, to collectively advance and promote the automatic merchandising and coffee service industries, still guides NAMA today as it did in 1936, the year of the organization’s founding.


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