By Lucie Passus
According to Merriam-Webster, an association is an organized group of people (or companies) that share a common interest. As GMA’s former managing director, Andrew Aho, wrote in his April 2013 GMA column in Geosynthetics on the history of GMA, this association was born out of a need to represent the interests of the companies involved in the geosynthetics market.
Through various iterations and under different names, GMA is now celebrating its 34th year in existence and is a strong trade association with 86 members (38 distributor companies and 48 manufacturing companies), many that are major players in the worldwide geosynthetics industry.
Seeking to strengthen its market presence and maximize its treasury, GMA is part of a larger organization of associations. As a specific market segment of the specialty textile industry, GMA is officially housed under, and is a division of, the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI), which represents other specialty textile market segments (including advanced textiles, awnings, and tents, to name a few). Along with the other IFAI members (more than 1,550 members worldwide), GMA’s footprint and allies are many.
GMA continues to be a central resource for information on geosynthetics and as a forum for consistent and accurate information to increase acceptance and promote the correct use of geosynthetic materials.
GMA’s strength is its membership. Not only is it vital that an association sustains its current members, but it is also important for it to grow its membership and have active participation from all members.
For the continuing health of the association, there should be ongoing efforts in the industry to develop new leaders (especially as long-time geosynthetics leaders near retirement) and to be actively involved in the association (e.g., serve on the GMA Executive Council leadership level or participate in a task force to provide input on specifications).
Recently, Nilex Inc. was welcomed as the newest member of the GMA Executive Council, which is a membership level open to all GMA member companies. This level of membership commitment primarily funds and sustains GMA programs and activities. All GMA Executive Council members have a single vote to direct all of GMA’s activities, including setting GMA’s strategic plan, vision, and goals.
Other current members of the GMA Executive Council include: Crown Resources, GSE Environmental, Polymer Group Inc. (formerly Fiberweb), Tensar International Corp., Propex, TenCate Geosynthetics Americas, Thrace-LINQ, TRI/Environmental, and Willacoochee Industrial Fabrics.
New general GMA members since January 2014 include: Jenessco Industries Inc., Watershed Geosynthetics LLC, and Geosynthetics Technologies Company Ltd.
Expanding membership and encouraging active member participation is a grassroots process that is successful when current members are directly involved, either by talking to non-members about the benefits of belonging to the association and the direct and indirect impacts on the industry, or by engaging their company’s leadership and employees in becoming more vested in the association via direct engagement with a project or initiative of the association.
Serving the needs of its members and expanding the interest of its industry requires that GMA continuously builds relationships with other organizations, wherever there may be mutually beneficial intersections.
GMA has ongoing partnerships with the following organizations:
American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), American Public Works Association (APWA), American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), American Society of Highway Engineers (ASHE), ASTM International, Canadian Geotechnical Society (CGS), Deep Foundations Institute (DFI), Erosion Control Technology Council (ECTC), Fabricated Geomembrane Institute (FGI), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Geo-Institute of ASCE, Geosynthetic Institute (GSI), Geosynthetics magazine, Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), International Association of Geosynthetic Installers (IAGI), International Erosion Control Association (IECA), Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI), International Geosynthetics Society (IGS), Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP), National Association of County Engineers (NACE), National Concrete Masonry Association (NCMA), National Ground Water Association (NGWA), National Highway Institute (NHI), National Transportation Product Evaluation Program (NTPEP), North American Geosynthetics Society (NAGS), Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), Transportation Research Board (TRB), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Water Quality Association (WQA).
Recently, GMA added to its list of partners the Associated General Contractors of America (AGCA) and is seeking to be more actively involved with the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA).