Exploring the Possibility of an AVF/ACP Merger

by Diana Wu, David W. Doster and Keith Jansen

In the Fall 2015 Issue of VEIN Magazine, Drs. Peter Pappas and Mel Rosenblatt shared their views on the benefits of a merger between the American Academy of Phlebology (ACP) and the American Venous Forum (AVF). In his article “Fighting Inertia: Merging the ACP and the AVF into a Single Society” Dr. Rosenblatt points out, “The concept of a merger is not a new idea. Leadership of both organizations has met (often in secrecy) to discuss this.

Nonetheless, the inertia-loving aspect of each society seems to have resisted such a dramatic change.” For his part, Dr. Pappas outlines what he believes the possible hurdles are as well as the possible solutions towards achieving a merger in his article entitled “The AVF/ACP Merger: A Thoughtful Treatise.” As the conversation about a merger comes more to the forefront, and to keep the conversation going, VEIN Magazine asked vein industry professionals to weigh in. Responses reflect individuals’ opinions and not those of their respective companies.

Benefits and Potential Pitfalls

This potential merger could heighten the profile of venous disease in front of many audiences, including payers, physicians, and industries. There could be a lot of synergy between these two organizations in venous research, education, and lobbying. Below are several reasons I would support such a merger, and below that some potential complications. I hope my thoughts can contribute to your discussion on this topic.

Reasons for a merger:

1. Bigger organization, louder voices. We have been talking about building higher awareness in venous disease for many years. Having two organizations merge into one creates a stronger synergy in many ways, such as patient and PCP education, payers and government lobbying, and education.

2. One vision. We can combine ACP and AVF visions into one, which can be communicated more clearly and louder to both internal and external stakeholders.

3. Leverage each other’s strengths and complement each other’s weaknesses. When we combine both societies’ strengths, we find ourselves with a very strong and well-rounded organization.

4. Unified research initiatives. When two organizations come together, we can potentially have more research power behind venous disease. This hopefully will create better and faster research studies.

5. Stronger finance. A bigger venous organization will have a much larger membership base and more leverage to raise capital. A financially strong organization has a better chance to execute long-term initiatives.

6. Better industry support. It’s easier for industry to support one organization instead of two. Industry can potentially contribute more to one society and still reduce total investment because of one less conference to manage.

With all the above being said, there will be many challenges in the process of merging. Here are a few that come to my mind:

1. Leadership selection. Each society has formed its pathway in selecting leadership. During the merge, guidelines need to be set to satisfy both ACP and AVF leadership teams. Politics in both leadership offices can create barriers in forming one.

2. Management guidelines creation. There are many details in each society’s management guidelines. To merge them together, both leadership teams need to have numerous discussions to agree on all details. Any details left in discrepancy may cause future problems in operation after the merge.

3. The merge of the two foundations. ACP and AVF each have their own foundation. Again, I anticipate many discussions on how to combine and allocate funds to make the new organization financially sound and efficient.

4. Common initiatives. ACP and AVF have been running their own initiatives and priorities separately for many years. When merging these two societies together, we need a set of common initiatives and priorities. I would imagine that the leadership teams from both societies will have lengthy discussions before agreeing on the most important initiatives for venous care. This will also dictate how to allocate funds to those initiatives.

Diana Wu
Global Marketing Manager
Venous Therapies Program, Cook Incorporated

M&As: Three Elements for Success

Merger and Acquisitions (M&A) are common place in business and can be an integral part of a company’s
growth strategy. I’ve been part of several small and larger integrations that came from both mergers and acquisitions. Three elements for success are strategy, vision and culture. It is important to realize that a merger is a tactic that is driven by part of a bigger strategy. A shared vision is critical for a successful integration. In the corporate world, mergers are somewhat simpler as they focus on driving shareholder value through cost synergies, revenue growth efficiencies to increase profit, capitalization and other economic factors.

In the case of non for profit advocacy, you need to look beyond the financials. Vendors, industry partners, members and even volunteers would prefer one organization, with the hope that a larger organization would have a greater influence. The synergies for all parties mean they can be more effective and efficient if represented by one large, strong advocacy organization.

The challenge is both sides need to be comfortable openly discussing what will ultimately make a merger
a success beyond the numbers. You won’t need two of everything; leadership, employees, offices, websites, programs, initiatives and so on. While it might seem simple to just start divvying up the segments, it’s key that the parties be honest with accepting the sacrifices that must happen in order to achieve the desired culture when the dust settles.

People will be inspired by a strong vision but the organization must maintain and develop a culture that people want to be part of and associated with. I applaud the leadership of both organizations for having the maturity to come together and explore the opportunity.

David W. Doster
Sr. Director, Global Marketing,
Peripheral Vascular AngioDynamics

Reflections on Past Transitions

Your two articles by Drs. Pappas and Rosenblatt, which discuss a possible merge between the AVF and ACP (The AVF / ACP Merger: A Thoughtful Treatise and Fighting Inertia: Merging the ACP and AVF into a Single SocietyOctober 2015), undoubtedly piqued the interest of many. As an industry partner, it would be inappropriate to opine on the merits of such an event. However, with multiple experiences in both successful and challenging corporate mergers/integrations, I would offer some reflections on factors that facilitated or impeded corporate transitions in the past.

Successful integrations typically occur as a result of one or more of the following:

  • An aligned vision with measurable, clearly articulated goals and objectives. Establishing the parameters of the new relationship is imperative.
  • The advantages of the new entity outweigh the strengths of the existing groups. The adage “1 + 1 = 3” clearly applies here.
  • The new organization creates a product or service that would otherwise go unanswered or underserved.

Conversely, when a merge has failed, it can often be traced back to one or more of the following:

  • A misalignment of vision regarding the future purpose of the new organization and the identity of the new relationship. Is it a merger? Strategic alliance? Association? Collaboration? While the differences in these names may not seem great, they can set off a cascade of emotions and subsequent unintended consequences if the shape and aims of the new organization are not clearly defined.
  • Inadequate accurate communication between the original entities. If left to work through facts or situations that have not been clearly and correctly articulated, most people will assume the worst (whatever that may be). Ambiguity significantly impedes progress in these situations.
  • Emotions and/or egos replace facts. If the partners cannot objectively evaluate the benefits or issues they bring to the new organization, the merger has little chance to succeed.
To realize success, it will be incumbent for leadership to build a team of people comprised of diverse backgrounds and experiences who will be the genesis of thoughtful planning and frank communication.

Keith Jansen
President and CEO