Alex DeBarr has been passionate about association's success for more than 10 years as the President and CEO of Naylor Association Solutions. Naylor has provided member engagement and non-dues revenue solutions to the association marketplace for nearly 50 years. The company's offerings, including a full print and digital product suite, event and exhibition services, software-as-a-service(SaaS), consulting and marketing—serve the communication, member/stakeholder engagement and non-dues revenue needs of trade and professional associations. How does DeBarr effectively lead an organization with a wide range of products? “The key has been having a vision for expanding the business to address the needs of our association clients, getting buy-in and enabling feedback and participation from the management team; and having the patience and/or drive to execute the right plans,” says DeBarr.
Naylor is unique in the association service industry owing to their mix of solutions and focus on helping associations achieve more while keeping member dues low. “All of [our] solutions help associations develop or drive member engagement—and most can be monetized via the sale of advertising, sponsorship or exhibits, which provides valuable non-dues revenue,” explains DeBarr. Associations that earn non-dues revenue are better able to keep member dues affordable while still improving their membership value through expanded programming and professional development.
" The key has been having a vision for expanding the business to address the needs of our association clients, getting buy-in and enabling feedback and participation from the management team; and having the patience and/or drive to execute the right plans "
For example: The New York State Association of Fire Chiefs (NYSAFC), which advocates and provides hands-on education for 10,000 emergency service professionals in New York, was facing difficulties managing their quarterly member magazine, SIZE UP. Pursuing advertising dollars while developing editorial content and graphic design was difficult with their limited staff which was further stretched by the demands of hosting an annual conference that includes equipment exhibits, workshops and training to assist firefighters in addressing ongoing and new challenges in their field. After NYSAFC shifted ad sales and some of the production duties for SIZE UP to Naylor, their communications staff could start focusing more on the development of other programs and projects. NYSAFC’s annual conference has grown by 25 percent over nine years, and thanks to Naylor’s outstanding events team boasts an exhibitor retention rate of 75 percent.
Being a competitive team sports athlete and coach most of his life, DeBarr has strengthened the company on the principles of focus, discipline and how to deal with pressure. “I never ask people to do something I wouldn’t do, and I try to lead by example in positive ways,” he says. DeBarr advises would-be entrepreneurs to have a vision, research it to make sure it is practical and achievable—then attack it. Being prepared to change plans as customers needs evolve – and knowing what those needs are by asking them in statistically valid ways – is essential. “There are millions of great ideas out there,” he added. “Yours has to involve serving a client need in a way that helps them and can be done profitably.”
One evolving client need Naylor has recently addressed is the desire for easy app integrations with member software. The company has recently introduced the Naylor Marketplace, which enables their 1,200 association management software customers access to a growing number of software add-ons like email, resume builders and surveys via one-click integration. “This is an industry first,” DeBarr states. “By providing this access we are helping our customers utilize our products more effectively and efficiently. We have had a significant positive response to this since we launched in late October, and we are adding to the app store tools every week,” he adds. With DeBarr quarterbacking, expect to see Naylor continue to grow in the future.