Representor Spring 2020 - From the Top

Out of many, one

by Chuck Tanzola, CPMR
The Fusion Sourcing Group Inc.
ERA President

As I walked through the Syracuse airport for my flight to Austin for the recent ERA Conference, I noticed this familiar phrase emblazoned on the wall: “E Pluribus Unum – Out of Many, One.”  This is, of course, inscribed on The Great Seal of the United States of America, placed there as a result of an Act of Congress approved in 1782 in recognition of the emergence of a single nation from 13 original colonies. I took to the air thinking about this phrase, and in light of my time in Austin, I thought it was relevant as the subject of this quarter’s column.

However, a not-so-funny thing happened along the way that I feel compelled to discuss first – namely the impact of the spread of the coronavirus. Less than 30 days ago, in my report to the ERA Board of Directors, in summarizing market conditions, I wrote, “… while optimism exists, I am concerned that it is a fragile optimism. As I write this, I’m afraid the impact of the recent outbreak of the novel coronavirus and associated worldwide health threat is yet to be fully realized.”

Today, we are hearing daily news reports and seeing in our operations and activities a fuller measure of the impacts. Financial markets are declining, supply chains are being disrupted, industry events are either postponed or canceled outright. In short, disruptions abound. The news is largely negative, and all our lives are being affected. If I were updating the Board on this market environment, instead of a fragile optimism, I may well have described a widespread pessimism.

As I think about it though, a more appropriate description is “a temporary widespread pessimism” with an emphasis on the word temporary. How long will this situation last?
In the long run, this situation will be seen in the reflection of the rearview mirror; as opposed to the lights of a head-on collision. It is natural to focus on what is directly in front of us; but it is essential to not forget what is beyond.

Without minimizing any of the immediate impacts felt as a result of COVID-19, it is important to recognize that the intrinsic characteristic of our industry — at the forefront of exciting new and emerging technologies with long-term application, growth and potential — has not changed.

Given that, I return to the theme and observations I originally intended: Out of many, one.

Out of many, diverse companies, comprised of many, diverse people, comes one dynamic industry. Whether you are a representative, a manufacturer, a distributor or a service provider; whether you have been in the industry for many years, or just starting your career; whether your personality profile is that of a square, a triangle, a circle, or a squiggly line; whether your next car will be an EV or not – our associations (and our Association) are enhanced by your involvement.

Out of many dedicated hours of commitment came one outstanding ERA Conference.

Congratulations go to Conference Chair, Mike Swenson, CPMR, of Mel Foster Co. and the entire army of volunteers, along with the ERA staff for “Takin’ It to the Streets!”
The two comments I heard most frequently in Austin were, “I’ve been coming to ERA Conferences for many years, this was the best one ever!” and “This was my first ERA Conference, I’m definitely coming back!” These are a testament to the value you delivered and the lasting impact you will have. (Not to mention the lasting impact of the theme song, that is still running through my head …)

Finally, my theme statement was born out of the recognition of significant achievement. Out of many, one. As I close, I note that the converse is also true: Out of one, many. The creation and presentation of the Tobin Bridge Award is a fitting tribute to the accomplishment and impact that one person can have on many and I cannot think of a more deserving recipient than our CEO, Walter Tobin. Thanks again, Walter, for building bridges in our industry!

As always, I can be reached at and welcome your comments and feedback. If you attended the ERA Conference, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Don’t forget to mark down Feb. 28 – March 2, 2021 on your calendar for next year’s conference.