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A message from the HMA president

Published: October 17, 2016
Bob Wilke
Photo by Bob Wilke
A recent press release from the Hobby Manufacturers Association's new president, Bob Wilke:

Greetings HMA Member,
The HMA is in a transition period with new leadership and seeking to create a new vision for the future. The HMA and the industry is certainly at a crossroads with the future of a full scale manufacturer/dealer/consumer trade event such as iHobby in question. The HMA Board of Directors and Council members are seeking to add value to your HMA membership and considering new alternatives to solve issues such as an industry tradeshow and creating consumer awareness and excitement for hobby products.  
We appreciate your previous support of the HMA and certainly understand your hesitation to renew your membership given the uncertainty of the future of iHobby. As the new HMA President, I hope to bring a new vision and energy to the HMA leadership and activate all HMA members to contribute and help solve the major issues that face our industry. Some may describe the current industry supply chain as broken and others recognize that it has simply changed with the times. The new vision for the HMA is to be inclusive of all supply chain members from manufacturers and distributors to the retailers and work together to ignite growth for our entire industry and all participants.
Since taking over leadership of the HMA last month, my efforts have been to restructure our process to create accountability and engagement from all HMA board and council members. The board of directors has identified five specific objectives or goals we will work toward in the coming months and year ahead to begin gaining traction toward industry growth. There are certainly more issues to tackle, but we need a place to start and will address other issues as we begin solving the immediate concerns. Here are the five objectives that will be our initial focus:

1.     Define specific strategies and tactics to influence industry-wide adoption & enforcement of MAP pricing policies.
The effective implementation and enforcement of MAP pricing policies is an industry-wide challenge for manufacturers and distributors. Upholding the integrity of MSRP will have a significant positive impact by capturing wealth that is currently drained out  of the industry via margin compression and the diversion of seller fees into the online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay. This recaptured wealth can be used to sustain industry viability and grow the footprint of brick & mortar stores that will reach and serve new consumer markets.
An effective solution
will encourage retailer support of manufacturers and distributors that currently model an effective MAP strategy thereby influencing and building momentum for more widespread adoption of MAP policies.

2.     Develop an effective social media strategy to increase awareness of the hobby industry.                              
The HMA lacks the resources to promote the industry through traditional media channels (TV, radio, print, etc.). Social media is a cost effective alternative to create and generate greater industry awareness through fresh and compelling content.
An effective solution will identify a strategy that inspires members from across the supply chain to contribute content, identify & utilize effective keywords/hashtags and create accountability within the HMA for maintaining fresh content.

3.     Increase HMA membership value.
The HMA currently suffers from a lack of compelling value to retain and attract new membership. Developing added value and services is necessary prior to making a concerted membership recruiting effort.
An effective solution will consider rebranding the HMA (i.e. HIA or suitable inclusive alternative), adding new membership categories (i.e. service providers, retailers, etc.), alliances with discounted service providers (i.e. hotels, car rentals, office supplies, etc.) and developing a resource repository for web ready manufacturer product information (i.e. photos, specs, dimensions, etc.).

4.     Define future or alternative iHobby.
The combined vendor and retailer apathy toward a trade show necessitates innovation and the consideration of new ideas to connect manufacturers, dealers and consumers.
An effective solution
will identify viable options and alternatives to replace or return iHobby in 2018.

5.     Expand World's Greatest Hobby on Tour to RC & GH/PDC
The World's Greatest Hobby on Tour has been an effective and successful effort to increase awareness of the model railroad category. The RC and GH/PDC categories lack a similar mobilized opportunity to promote the hobby.
An effective solution will consider duplication of the WGH model to define a plan to achieve similar success.
As I have stated or communicated to many of you, my belief is that industry growth will occur for all members of the supply chain by supporting retailers first and equipping them to best serve the end consumer (#retailersfirst). Brick & mortar retailers are the gateway and instrument for hobby industry growth as they are in the best position to introduce hobby products to the general public and personally serve and support hobbyists. Expanding the physical footprint of brick & mortar retailers will ultimately generate more sales, profits and add value across the entire hobby industry supply chain spectrum.
We all want to see value added to our HMA membership, but we cannot begin to make progress without you and every contributing member of the HMA. I encourage you to renew your HMA membership today and join me in our effort to reenergize and grow the hobby industry. If you have any questions about your membership renewal, please reach out to HMA Executive Secretary Heather Stoltzfus at or by phone at (267) 341-1604. Thank you and we look forward to your continued support and participation in HMA.
Best Regards and Hobby On!
Bob Wilke - HobbyTown
HMA President