Matt Menashas, president and CEO of the Paddlesports Industry Association (formerly the Professional Paddlesports Association), announced his resignation in an Oct. 17 press release, making public what had been whispered as likely weeks earlier. When contacted by SNEWS®, Menashas indicated that his last day on the PIA payroll would be Nov. 15. He added in an email to SNEWS that after that date, "I will serve as a volunteer for PIA to close up the unification process through at least the end of the year. That would include working with Michael Pardy [director of TAPS] to ensure a smooth transition to the new association."
While the statement by Menashas implies that the vote to unify PIA and the Trade Association of Paddlesports (TAPS) and create a new paddlesports trade association is practically a done deal, members of both associations have told SNEWS that a vote to merge is far from being a slam-dunk. And, it may in fact not happen at all.
Menashas has been employed by PIA since December 2000, and during that time, he has led several efforts to merge or unify with other associations. First, with America Outdoors in 2003, which failed over personnel issues, then TAPS in 2005, which was abandoned in 2006. Efforts to merge with TAPS were renewed again in August 2008 with another MOU (click here to read a SNEWS editorial).
According to insiders, PIA membership has met and voted, with apparent strong support to approve a merger and unification. However, TAPS board members told us that the association is still awaiting the results of a CPA review of PIA financials before it considers whether or not to move forward with the merger vote. A number of questions posed by SNEWS regarding PIA liabilities and operations remain, as of this posting, unanswered by PIA.
Menashas is leaving PIA to become the executive director of the National Estuarine Research Reserve Association. Before joining PIA, Menashas worked for the federal government on coastal and marine policy issues. He has a master's degree in marine policy from the University of Delaware. Previously, he was communications director for Rep. George E. Brown Jr., and has served on the staff of Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr.
SNEWS® View: Menashas has made it his clear mission during his tenure to seek mergers and unification with other associations, he told SNEWS during an interview in 2004, to create a more cohesive and powerful voice that can speak for and serve the entire paddlesports industry, including retailers, outfitters, sales reps and manufacturers. To that, we say hooray and commend him and Michael Pardy of TAPS for their efforts. However, for many reasons, some of which involve egos or political posturing, and some of which simply involve the financially challenged state of affairs that PIA now finds itself, a merger along the lines Menashas envisioned may never happen. We await the decision by the TAPS board on Monday, Oct. 27, as to whether it will recommend bringing a merger and unification vote to the TAPS membership at all. If that does occur, we will wait a bit longer, until Wednesday, Oct. 29, to hear what the entire membership decides.
If TAPS members vote against unification, we can only hope that both boards move quickly to heal bruised egos and feelings, then renew their efforts without delay to create one entity speaking for and on behalf of the paddlesports industry. Ultimately, that is what is most important. No more money needs to be spent on studies, lawyers or MOUs. In the end, money used that way does nothing to put butts in boats and ensure a financially healthy paddlesports industry.