by James B. Matthews
celebrate TMA’s 15 years as the premier professional comunity dedicated to
corporate renewal and turnaround management, our ranks are likely to swell
beyond 6,500 this year — we surpassed the 6,000-member goal in July.
Over the years, we have presented thousands of local and international
educational and networking programs designed to improve our skills and our
businesses. Millions of sponsorship dollars have been raised and wisely spent to
support these programs, increase the awareness of our professions in the
corporate world, and improve our image in the public’s mind.
If you consider the time it took to prepare and present all of the
initiatives TMA has undertaken on behalf of corporate renewal professionals over
the last 15 years, you will easily conclude that there have been more than 1
million volunteer hours devoted to making TMA what it is today. Consider the
rates we all charge, and you begin to get a sense of the value of TMA to each
one of us.
And we’ve only just begun.
In the early days, when people like Donald Bibeault, Charlie Bahr, John
Brinko, Gary Brooks, Marvin Davis, Ed Howbert, Gil Osnos and others got together
to form this organization, one of their goals was to distinguish our members as
honest and trustworthy professionals who possessed the skills and experience
necessary to ably manage corporate renewal. (I don’t mean to slight or ignore
others who were involved in building TMA. The people listed here are the longest
continuing members of TMA.)
The founders were concerned about increasing numbers of inexperienced
individuals who held themselves out as qualified practitioners and the adverse
impact their incompetence would have on the turnaround management
They decided that membership in TMA and professional certification would
give its members a competitive advantage over others. Thus, the Association of
Certified Turnaround Professionals (ACTP) was formed in 1993. There are now
nearly 250 CTPs, and the numbers are growing. I anticipate that it will soon be
difficult to be recognized as a qualified chief restructuring officer (CRO) or
restructuring advisor without this designation. Granted, the test and process to
earn this designation are not easy — they were never intended to be — but
meeting the qualifications for certification clearly indicates that you are
experienced and skilled enough to be entrusted with running a
The idea grew, and people such as George Voorhees, Tony Bergen, Gerry
Buccino, Ken Glass, Bill Hass, David Allen, Ron Quintero, Baker Smith, Bob Hoyt,
Jim Huitt, Charlie Soule, and Jack Butler joined that first year. (Space
constraints preclude me from naming all 42 individuals whose memberships date to
TMA began educational sessions and soon realized that the networking
among members was at least as valuable as the classes. I recall my first
national TMA meeting (we were just national then), and I was amazed when I
witnessed a conversation among competitive firm principals in which
opportunities to pitch certain accounts were shared openly.
Later, I quizzed one of the participants privately on why he would do
that. He said that as long as a TMA member won the assignment, the troubled
company would be well served and the profession’s reputation would be preserved.
He added that at the time there was plenty of work for everyone — if he didn’t
get that assignment, he’d get another one. While we have grown larger and
continue to be quite competitive, that underlying spirit still exists within
TMA. Prospects and leads are still shared openly among our members at local and
for TMA, the founders made the association an inclusive group, inviting the
participation of attorneys, accountants, appraisers, liquidators, lenders
(including loan workout officer, factors, and asset-based lenders), investors,
financial advisors, trustees, judges, academics, students, and all others
associated with the turnaround industry.
Early leaders recognized that corporate renewal and restructuring is a
multidisciplinary process that requires the specialized talents of reliable
professionals with varied experiences. Melding all of these people and talents
into one organization ensured the countless opportunities for educational
programs and networking sessions that has made TMA such a success.
Over the years, TMA has expanded its role in promoting the talents of its
members by actively working to shape public opinion concerning our profession.
TMA regularly issues press releases and industry surveys and assists reporters
who are writing articles on any aspect of our profession.
We all cringe at words such as “chainsaw” and “vulture” being applied to
what we do. TMA is a protagonist in our corner educating the public — and, more
important, our future clients — that its members are well educated, experienced,
trustworthy, and very capable of managing and redirecting companies, large and
small. This benefit alone is well worth the price of membership in TMA.
Individually, we simply cannot afford — and we certainly don’t have the time —
to undertake this crucial task. Thus, your support of TMA goes a long way toward
improving your image in the community.
Speaking of community, TMA has grown to the point that it is looking
outward to care for the communities in which we live. TMA is very active in
supporting and promoting the many members and chapters that are reaching out and
helping nonprofit and other worthwhile charitable organizations. Awards
recognizing the best pro bono turnaround and community service project are made
annually. The choices are becoming increasingly difficult because there are so
many heartwarming and beneficial projects.
Through the countless hours donated by many volunteers,
our educational opportunities abound. TMA is truly committed to helping each of
its members stay abreast of trends and new processes in corporate
reorganization. The Journal of Corporate Renewal
has grown from a simple newsletter to an award-winning
and highly recognized publication presenting timely, well written, and topical
articles designed to inform our members and improve our skills. The
international editions give us insight into other comparative forms of
restructuring and the problems associated with turning around international
The contributions of our very active and committed Academic Advisory
Council, which includes scholars from some of the best business schools in the
world, have been an invaluable addition to our constant and never-ending
commitment to improving TMA. Steady growth in the number of attendees at the
Advanced Education Workshop held each June is testament to the quality of the
programs they present. And we can all attest to the quality of our speakers and
programs, both locally and internationally.
Fully recognizing that nothing we do is static, TMA’s leadership at both
the chapter and international levels is revisiting our strategic plan to better
serve our members and our profession. Here, every member’s participation and
input is welcome. There are many ways that members can be involved and interact
with the leaders in the corporate renewal industry. TMA has 35 standing
committees, and we are always looking for dedicated individuals to serve the
organization. The 32 existing chapters also need volunteers to help with their
many outstanding programs and initiatives. It’s a great way for a new member to
get noticed and for an established member to give back.
TMA has long received generous support from its constituent firms.
Cornerstone contributions have sustained our programs and initiatives over the
years. To insure that this source of funds is available for our continued
improvement, Cornerstone 15 has been implemented to establish a permanent
endowment to support educational programs and research for the members of TMA
going forward. Initial pledges to the endowment fund have been phenomenal. We
all eagerly anticipate the report on the results of this fund-raising initiative
at the Annual Convention.
As we do
with our businesses and our clients, TMA’s leadership has assembled the finest
staff to carry out its programs and deliver the services our members deserve. In
this respect we have reason to be proud. TMA, through the efforts of its highly
competent and amazingly dedicated staff, recently won six Awards of Excellence
from APEX for the following projects:
- The Journal of Corporate Renewal received
one award for writing and another for best redesign in the journal and
- The 2002 Annual Report received a “most improved”
award in the annual reports category.
- The Membership Brochure received a “most improved”
award in the brochures, manuals, and reports category.
- TMA’s Web site received a “most improved” award in
the Web and intranet sites category.
- TMA’s Branding Style Guide was cited in the special-purpose manuals
section of the brochures, manuals, and reports category.
In addition, the 2002 Annual Report received an excellence award in the
design category for annual reports from the Chicago Women in Publishing. The
2001 Annual Report won a first-place award from the National Federation of Press
Women and a merit award in the nonprofit annual reports category from the
Chicago-area chapters of the Public Relations Society of America.
My attitude has always been, “Why join an organization if you can’t help
make it the best organization in the world?” Join me in thanking the staff for
making TMA one of the best professional associations anywhere.
Finally, I have gone on about all of the benefits TMA provides. These are
not available in a vacuum. Many, many volunteers have contributed to starting
and improving TMA’s programs. We truly have just begun, and any improvement in
the breadth and scope of TMA’s initiatives begins with you! Get involved,
volunteer, and get to know the people with whom you want to do