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The National Auctioneers Association per its own website:

    Founded in 1949, the National Auctioneers Association (NAA) is the world’s largest professional association dedicated to professional auctioneers. The NAA was built by auctioneers, for auctioneers. Headquartered in Overland Park, Kan., the NAA represents the interests of thousands of auctioneers in the U.S., Canada and across the world.

It was then over 50 years later in 2003 and then 2004 and the National Auctioneers Association‘s (NAA) leaders had decided the National Auctioneers Association needed to change its name to the National Auction Marketing Association.

In fact, this measure was to be voted upon by the membership in 2004, and records show the NAA reserved the name “National Auction Marketing Association” on August 9, 2004 citing:

    Applicant is contemplating a name change to National Auction Marketing Association; Applicant’s purpose is to promote and advance the auction profession, provide a common organization for professional auctioneers, formulate ethical standards for auctioneers, promote enactment of laws governing auctioneers, and promote the auction business in general.

This effort to change the name was largely rejected by the membership, and the name remained the National Auctioneers Association.

Beginning in 2011 and continuing in 2012, NAA’s leadership again decided that NAA needed to change their name, but this time from the National Auctioneers Association to the National Auction Association, citing:

    Any auction professional should be allowed to join the organization as a voting member and one level of membership should be maintained which allows all members to vote.

After much discussion, and input from the membership, the following announcement was made April 24, 2012:

    No membership vote will take place on a potential name change for the association. A name change would have required an amendment to the Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation. As some NAA members liked the name change as proposed, and some did not, the Board will continue to ask for feedback and conduct research on the issue so as not to rush into a decision.

Why change the name?

It would seem that the two distinct efforts thus far to change the name of the National Auctioneers Association were based on the perceived need to increase membership.

In both cases, these proposals (2003-2004 and 2011-2012) sought to widen and/or expand the membership to be inclusive of people beyond just auctioneers.

For the most part, these additional members would come from auction support staff and others associated with the auction business.

It seems the current membership — made up of primarily auctioneers — wants the National Auctioneers Association to remain as such, and those auctioneer members want to socialize, network, befriend, and learn from fellow auctioneers rather than others merely associated with the auction business.

Too, it seems there is a concern among the current membership that if the membership is opened up to those associated with the auction business … or anyone who’s interested in the auction business, that the core identity of the organization could change.

Two distinct idioms came to mind during both name change efforts:

  • If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
  • Just because you can — doesn’t mean you should.

Washington, DC-based association management firm Plexus Consulting helps with such association name change projects.

    “What you want to come out with a name change is an enthusiasm, an excitement invested in a new name, as opposed to surprising the market with a new name where they would say, ‘Who’s that?’ That would be a disaster,” says Plexus President Steve Worth, whose first name-change project before starting Plexus helped name Deloitte & Touche.

    “It’s not a decision to be taken lightly; it’s a major undertaking. If you do it, you have to do it for good reasons,” says Worth. He counts mergers and going global as good reasons for a name change, but he says a desire for a more “fresh, light, zippy, or media-friendly” name as a frivolous reason.

As the April 24, 2012 announcement noted, the NAA Board will “continue to ask for feedback and conduct research on the issue so as not to rush into a decision …” indicating a future name change proposal is likely?

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, Keller Williams Greater Columbus Auctions and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction and. His Facebook page is: www.facebook.com/mbauctioneer. He serves as Adjunct Faculty at Columbus State Community College and is Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School.