NLBMDA figured out a way to dismiss that assumption and turn its government relations work into a revenue stream, while attracting a new member segment in the process.
Traditionally, the association operated under a federated structure under which companies would have to join at the state level to be members of NLBMDA. Regional chains did not deem it worthwhile to join at the state level.
NLBMDA responded by creating a "National Advisory Council" membership that would allow these regional companies to join NLBMDA directly, giving them access to lobbyists and information on issues at the federal level.
NLBMDA also gains value beyond the increased revenue from the participation of the regional chains, a fact that has lessened the conflict between the big chain versus the little guy.
Donnelly foresees more mergers among NLBMDA's 22 federated regions.
To compensate for the merger mania striking its members, in 1998, NLBMDA increased its dues from $50 to $75 for lumber dealers, and implemented an aggressive nondues revenue effort that has dropped the association's reliance on dues from 47 percent in 1990 to 38 percent today.