An interview with Julia O’Connor, Vice President of Membership and Communications at IAM, as she explains how the organisation balances being accessible to all, while maintaining strict membership criteria.
IAM (International Association of Movers), the industry’s largest membership organisation with its headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, rejoices in its inclusivity. Since its inception over 60 years ago the organisation has built up a global membership to over 2,200 moving companies involved in all aspects of the industry.
But its success has also given IAM a marketing dilemma: maintaining its inclusive nature is an IAM core value, but IAM wants members to know that it does not just let any company into membership. At first sight, this appears to be a difficult challenge, but Julia O’Connor explained that membership criteria are strictly enforced and designed to ensure all companies adhere to the IAM By-Laws and IAM Code of Ethics, to build trust within the network.
She explained that IAM receives around 250 new membership applications every year of which over 50 don’t make the grade. Every new applicant must show that it is registered to operate in its own country and, if the industry there is regulated, must hold the necessary licence to operate as a moving company.
The applicant must then be sponsored by two existing IAM members. This is where the process stops for some. “Quite a few companies can't get two IAM members to sponsor them,” explained Julia. “Out of 2,200-plus members, if you can't get two companies to
sponsor you, that's not a good sign.” Indeed it isn’t, but the process might not be as easy as it first appears as those sponsoring companies must not owe debts to other IAM members (i.e. monies outstanding for more than 120 days). As the industry does not have a reputation for fast payment, this is a problem that sometimes gets in the way. “We have managed to recover significant sums of money for members as part of this process.”
Then comes the internal vetting process ...
Photo: Julia O'Connor.