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Fulfilling the mission.

Most of us don't remember it, but 1960 was a year of excitement. Chubby Checker captivated young followers with his dance craze, The Twist, and Etch-A-Sketch was the toy every boy and girl had to have. Philadelphia defeated Green Bay in an end-of-season championship game that would not be known as the Super Bowl until seven years later. An American U-2 spy plane was shot down over Russia.

And though there was little fanfare at the time, in 1960 a group of the fledgling franchising community's leaders formally turned an idea into an organization, giving birth to what today is the International Franchise Association. Like franchising itself, the IFA has experienced growth that our founders could not have predicted as we have evolved to become the most recognized franchise organization in the world. Since 1960 on countless occasions the IFA has found the resources to respond and adapt to the demands of the global marketplace.

Nowhere is that evolution more evident than at our annual conventions. The size and scope of activities, educational programs, exhibits and opportunities for networking, deal-making and just good, old-fashioned socializing among one's peers steadily increase from year-to-year.

At first glance it's natural to view the convention as a significant social opportunity, because in planning the meeting our Convention Committee recognizes the high value our members and attendees place on relationship development. But the convention is much more than a social or networking opportunity. The "bottom line" of the IFA annual convention traces its roots back to our founding in 1960, and is reflected in our mission statement: "to protect, enhance and promote franchising."

Each aspect of this year's convention in Palm Springs advances our mission, beginning with the opening general session. You might think that hearing political activists James Carville and Mary Matalin engage in an intra-marital debate over the latest "Inside the Beltway" gossip is just Democrat vs. Republican entertainment. But the message we should take away from their remarks during the opening general session is that politics is more than just entertainment. For businessmen and women building and growing a franchise system, political involvement is an essential ingredient of success. Put more directly, the message is "if you're in business, you're in politics."

Beyond the political messages from the opening general session, a significant amount of the programming you'll see in Palm Springs later this month focuses on issues intricately linked to the successful application of franchising to the delivery of products and services in a variety of industries.

For example, there is an International Summit on the convention schedule because of the growing demand for guidance in expanding U.S. based franchise businesses to markets around the world. There is also a new Diversity Summit that will address issues like how to recruit more minority and women franchisees to meet the changing demographics and workforce issues facing the franchise community.

Each of these sessions, and countless others on subjects ranging from the Federal Trade Commission Franchise Rule to sales compliance, and from discussions about franchisee satisfaction to financing strategies and developing effective leadership for your franchise system, are rooted in IFA's history and mission. Nearly five decades ago, a group of franchise visionaries realized that franchising's promise to future generations could b e protected best by an organization that met the challenges of change and embraced principles founded upon fairness and honesty.

I hope that you will enjoy IFA's annual convention. It's more than a yearly meeting, more than a regular get-together. Think of it as another way in which IFA fulfills its mission to promote, protect and enhance franchising.
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Title Annotation:International Franchise Association and its management since its formation
Author:Shay, Matthew
Publication:Franchising World
Article Type:Column
Date:Feb 1, 2006
Previous Article:Franchising soars.
Next Article:Welcome to a unique experience--the IFA convention 2006!

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