GMDC BEGINS DRIVE TO BUILD MEMBERSHIP IN 1999

NEW YORK -- The General Merchandise Distributors Council, Colorado Springs, Colo., has begun its 1999 membership campaign by using peer-to-peer solicitations in hopes of boosting its ranks beyond the 860 mark.ntial new members. The campaign was detailed to the trade media here during the GMDC's annual press appreciation luncheon earlier this month."Most executives who have been in the supermarket

NEW YORK -- The General Merchandise Distributors Council, Colorado Springs, Colo., has begun its 1999 membership campaign by using peer-to-peer solicitations in hopes of boosting its ranks beyond the 860 mark.

ntial new members. The campaign was detailed to the trade media here during the GMDC's annual press appreciation luncheon earlier this month.

"Most executives who have been in the supermarket industry for a while have heard of GMDC," said Dick Swain, president of Valu Merchandisers, the nonfood subsidiary of Associated Wholesale Grocers, Kansas City, Mo., who is also this year's GMDC board chairman. "Most are aware of the association's annual marketing conferences and their focus on the nonfood segment of the supermarket industry. But, for whatever reasons, they have not yet joined. It's our job to convince them in an attention-getting and relevant way."

Those making personal appeals include Pat McGivern, vice president for wholesale nonfood procurement at Supervalu; W.H. Sutton, vice president and director of general merchandise at Winn-Dixie; and Bill Mansfield, vice president of nonfood for Marsh Supermarkets. The campaign consists of a series of letters and color brochures targeted to executives at about 100 nonmember companies. "There has always been an element of peer influence in everything GMDC does. We began as a member-led organization that today continues to place strong emphasis on partnering, collaboration and cooperation. However, we must constantly readdress the relevance of our conferences and educational programs as new executives move into senior management positions," said Rick Tilton, the GMDC president.

Jerry Barnes, the GMDC vice president for membership, said he is expecting to increase the association's total membership by 5% and wholesale/retail members by 10% by the end of the year. Last year the organization's membership drive resulted in an 11% membership increase.