CM Services helps trade groups better serve members

  • Rick Church is president of Glenn Ellyn-based CM Services Inc., a professional service firm that works for associations.

    Rick Church is president of Glenn Ellyn-based CM Services Inc., a professional service firm that works for associations. Medill News Service photo

Published: 9/5/2007 12:20 AM

Glen Ellyn-based CM Services is a partner to national and international trade associations.

"The difference between us and our competitors is the partnership," says Rick Church, 37, president of the professional service firm, which works for those associations.

CM's office becomes each association's headquarters -- the staff answers the phone, opens the mail, collects member dues and pays the bills.

Phillip Doyle, former president of the American Fence Association, said his organization tried four other management companies over its 40-year history before settlingon CM.

"CM is by far the management company of today because they put the right people in the right position," Doyle said. "We reached a new level in meeting our mission that we hadn't before."

Doyle says CM has extended itself beyond routine office duties and into the industry itself. The company took over management duties for both the FenceTech and DeckTech trade shows and the fence association's training schools.

Cindy Ketcherside, chairwoman of the Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standards Council, worked with CM to havethecouncil'ssafety standards approved by the American National Standards Institute.

She credits CM with helping the council "jump through the hoops" of being approved. CM is involved in the strategic planning of bringing these standards to the "awareness of the industry and community."

In December 2006, CM expanded its stableto include three additional trade associations and aims to add a new one each year for the next five years. That would bring the total to 17 associations. That would double the company's revenue, which hit $4 million last year, Church said.

"Our plan is for five years and we adjust it every year based on reality," Church said.

Most associations spend between 55 percent and 60 percent of their budgets in maintaining a staff to perform basic administrative functions, Church said. Partnering with CM, he said,could cut that expense 30 percent to 40 percent.

The company has grown to 23 employees since it was started by Church's parents in 1977. According to CM, the average in the association-managementbusiness is only seven.

Several staff members have special skills -- Web design, educational program development, financial planning, meeting coordination and exhibition management -- that provide services for clients.

Church's approach to management earned him a selection by Association Trends newspaper as one of six Young and Aspiring Association Professionals in 2006. The paper also highlighted the company in a story about magazine makeovers, in which it said CM helped Fencepost magazine boost revenues from less than $100,000 in 2002 to $400,000 in 2006.

In the future CM will broaden its operations, Church said, to include owning as well as running trade shows and providing services for businesses as well as associations.