Horse, flea, sloth, chameleon... What kind of association member are you?

Feb. 12, 2004

By Mike Manges

This past November at the International Tire Expo, the Tire Industry Association increased its roster by 25% thanks to signing more than 1,000 American Car Care Centers members. Boosting its membership even more remains one of the association's main objectives.

MTD recently stumbled across an article from the July 1946 issue of Tires, its predecessor, that called for dealers to join local and national tire industry associations. More than just a simple recruitment piece, the story took an unusual slant: It compared organization members and their attributes to those of different animals!

Here are the comparisons, with original descriptions. Who do you and/or your associates most closely resemble? (A word of warning: some aren't exactly flattering!)

The Wheel Horse. "An association member who appreciates the value of teamwork and realizes that cooperative effort gets the load to the top of the hill. At convention time, he does more than sing 'The Old Gray Mare.' He knows that pulling alone gets him nowhere but brains and money pooled together make horse sense. Often he sacrifices his own interests and health, unselfishly tugging at the traces for the common good. Unhitch the Wheel Horse and into the ditch goes the trade association."

The Flea. "The Flea jumps on membership rolls one year, jumps off the next. Usually joins up after the association has pulled a masterstroke of some kind or sometimes -- sensing a threatening development such as too much encroachment on free enterprise from government sources -- jumps to the association for shelter for the duration, then discontinues membership when the storm blows over."

The Pouter Pigeon. "Remember the spoiled child who picked up his marbles and went home when the game didn't suit him? He has grown up and gone into business and joined a trade association. But his mind still works the same as in his marble days. He is the same spoiled child. Toward all cooperative efforts on the part of his broad-minded fellow members he displays petulance, criticizes, is defiant or apathetic. Though he cashes in on the benefit of his association's efforts, he always complains."

The Sloth. "The Sloth receives favors and renders none. Joins an association only for what he thinks he can get out of it, not realizing that you get out of an association what you put into it, with interest."

The Nightingale. "The Nightingale belongs to an association mainly to get a chance to warble 'Sweet Adeline' at conventions and local shindigs. Seldom asks for or digests advice. Such counsel -- his for the asking -- is out of his world. Being a good mixer, the Nightingale has been able to evade failure's trap at times without assistance from his association."

The Chameleon. "The Chameleon attends meetings to find out what others are doing, then to offer cooperative services. Swears undying cooperation 'for the good of our business' whenever the boys get together to discuss their problems, but forgets about it the next day and does as he pleases. The Chameleon is the first to slash prices indiscriminately whenever the green light appears and to do other things that undermine cooperation."

The Ostrich. "This bird is always howling about the difficulty experienced in solving problems, yet the Ostrich never joins up but continues to hide his head in the sand under the false assumption that the Big Bad Wolf of business inefficiency won't dig in after him. Investigations have shown that the Ostrich can usually afford it and is eligible for membership, but he never tries to get out of the jungle of bad business management. Why does he remain a dead pigeon? That's something we've never been Owlish enough to find out!"