June 7, 2022 Message to the Membership
Posted on June 7, 2022 in Message to the Membership
The NSBA is currently undergoing a strategic planning process, and while I recognize that strategic plans are necessary and quite instrumental for the organization, I also recognize that, as a member, you might not be quite as enthusiastic about such a process.
But something that just might capture your imagination regarding this otherwise relatively mundane activity is that this planning is also causing a fair bit of communication, and second thoughts, about our brand as an organization. The NSBA – the North Saskatoon Business Association.
You may notice that whenever I refer to it, I always refer to it as its acronym, the NSBA. Rarely do I offer its long form version of its name – North Saskatoon Business Association. As of our last strategic plan, in 2017, when necessary we’ve been using a descriptor of ‘Saskatoon’s Business Association’ following our acronym.
But is this right? Or is it causing more confusion than not, by just excluding the ‘N’ altogether? Internally, we know what we are. But externally, we recognize that it might be a little confusing.
The challenge is that the ‘N’ has a strong connection to our history and brand as an organization. It’s why we were formed; because the north-end business owners like Harold Latrace were not getting fair representation in other circles, so they went about and formed their own circle.
Originally, you had to be a north-end business to belong to the NSBA. Somewhere along the way the Board passed a motion to allow Associate Members to belong (those from outside that self-defined north-end district). But Associate Members would be limited to just two spots around the Board Room table. (We didn’t want too many of them-there Southenah’s at the Board Room table!)
This was all before my time, so I’m going off of our less-than-stellar record keeping. But since my time, we’ve eliminated Associate Members altogether, and have made everyone – regardless of their business location – a regular Member of the NSBA.
That’s because our issues and files now are rarely geocentric, but rather affect most, if not all, businesses regardless of whether they are on Faithfull Avenue or in Stonebridge.
Despite this being the case for several decades now (when you take into account the Associate Member adaptation) many businesspeople assume that, because they are not in the north end of Saskatoon, that they cannot belong to the NSBA. Balderdash, we say! Any business can belong to the NSBA.
But perhaps what stokes these types of thoughts and misunderstandings is that many of our members still in fact are north-end businesses. Not only do we have true and loyal members, but the north end of Saskatoon is where most of Saskatoon’s businesses are located. It is the city’s largest employer by region (many people don’t realize that), and so by virtue of this, most of our members come from the city’s north end.
So, we have a true and loyal membership, we have what we believe to be a fairly strong brand and/or reputation (locally at least, and in the business community particularly), but we have a name that’s not really representative of our name, or at least who we are anymore.
So what this all boils down to is that we are having some fairly frank and open discussion about whether or not we should look at a name change. And this isn’t the first time this debate has come about. I’m told it was a fairly acrimonious debate the first time around (which predated 2010). We had one again in 2017 and settled for the compromise described above with the acronym and ignoring the word ‘north’. And who knows where we’ll end up this time around.
But you might want to give some thought to it. Maybe we’ll come up with a ‘Name-Your-Association’ type of contest with our membership. Hey, it worked for Nutrien, didn’t it? (For those who didn’t know, the name ‘Nutrien’ came from an internal contest amongst employees of the former PotashCorp and Agrium.)
Then again, we might not go anywhere with this. It’s been raised as an issue at least three times to my knowledge and nothing yet has come of it. But maybe this time will be different.
Regardless, we’ll keep you posted and you’ll be among the first to know. In the meantime, if you have any strong opinions one way or another, don’t be shy. Drop us a note or give us a call. We’d be happy to hear from you.
Until next time, be safe, be smart, be considerate, be well, but most of all, be kind.