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AHBAI forges unity in the ethnic product market.

AHBAI forges unity in the ethnic product market

CHICAGO - A unification of retailers, manufacturers and distributors to foster the growth of the ethnic health and beauty aids market is the hallmark of 10 years of accomplishment for the American Health and Beauty Aids Institute, says executive director Geri Jones.

As AHBAI celebrates its 10th anniversary, Jones says, "We're really excited, because when the organization was founded there were many that said we wouldn't survive six months. Not only have we survived, but we've grown phenomenally over 10 years."

Uniting different business sectors to promote and build the category will be an ongoing strategy for the institute. "We plan to continue in that vein," Jones says.

Last year may have been a watershed in that regard. AHBAI showed it was embracing retailers by having National Association of Chain Drug Stores vice president Ted Peterson deliver a talk entitled "Good News From the Chain Drug Stores" at the institute's midyear business conference.

That conference also marked a fundamental change in the annual event's one-on-one sessions among retailers, distributors and manufacturers. Whereas only suppliers who were institute members had been allowed to participate in the dialogues in prior years, invitations to all ethnic H&BA manufacturers were extended last year.

This year's midyear conference offers "a perfect example" of how the industry is uniting to build a stronger category, says Jones. For the 1991 event AHBAI has developed an advisory committee of ethnic H&BA retailers and distributors to provide substantial input into the conference's organization.

The committee members include: Harco Drug vice president of sales Frank Gable, Revco D.S. general merchandise manager Les Houghton, Kmart Corp.'s Bruce Michelotti, CVS/Peoples Drug Stores ethnic program buyer Errett Thomas, Ben Sheftall Distributing Co. president Richard Eichholz, Ted Fishman & Associates' Ted Fishman, Jack's Service Co.'s Kent Humphries, Paul's Sundries' Chuck Lewman, Standard Distributing Inc. president Dan Medow, Supermarkets General Corp.'s Sylvia Owens and Wills Distributing's Sherman Wills.

As a result of their suggestions, Jones says, "We feel very confident that this conference will be the best ever."

Looking to the future, she notes that the primary goal of AHBAI will be to promote the image and opportunities in the ethnic H&BA industry. "We feel at this point that the industry is on an upswing," Jones adds, nothing that many ethnic H&BAs, particularly hairstyle maintenance products are doing exceptionally well.

The industry has demonstrated recession-resistance, and the institute's member companies have been recording marked growth.

While eyeing continued expansion, AHBAI will never neglect its core market: the black community. "We'll always be concerned with contributing to the economic development of the minority community, because we feel that group has given us so much," says Jones.

Along with economic growth, education and employment for the community will always be institute priorities. In that regard, Jones cites this year's joint marketing venture between AHBAI and Walgreen Co. to raise $50,000 for the United Negro College Fund. The program has now been extended to other companies, a development that Jones calls highly gratifying.
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Title Annotation:American Health and Beauty Aids Institute
Publication:Chain Drug Review
Date:Apr 8, 1991
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