While I traveled the country and the world filming for We Are Vapers, I had the chance to meet and talk with hundreds of vapers and vendors. I was amazed at the number of them that said that self-regulation was not only desirable but essential to preserving the future of this life changing technology! Everyone was saying it, but as with what is typical in life, things get busy, demands of business take precedence. After thinking long and hard on the issues and what is at stake for this industry that has the potential to change the world through creating and maintaining a free and emerging market, I decided to act.
One hot day under the Florida sun, while discussing with Lou Ritter, I remembered this quote
“The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week.”
– Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari and Chuck E. Cheese’s
The switch was flipped; I decided that now was the time to do it. When I left that meeting I went into action. I was not sure how they would react, I was not sure they would listen. So I went to the vendors I had had discussions with, ones that I knew personally, and ones that I trusted. I made them a simple proposition.
“I want you to join me at dinner to discuss self-regulation with several other vendors”
Little did I know that, with that simple statement, I would start the ball rolling on something that would be essential and vital for this industry.
So several vendors sat at a table outside a restaurant that night and discussed what self-regulation meant, how we should do it, how we could do it. I had buried inside of me a fear that these people would see each other only as competitors. I was afraid that they would get so mired down in the minutia that they would not find a common ground. Most of all I was afraid that this would be a conversation that was insightful but would be all talk and no action.
I was amazed to find out that my fears where totally unfounded!
After a few minutes of talking they turned to me and ask – “You pulled this together tell us what you hoped for”. After stammering for a few seconds I was thinking about this quote
“It is an immutable law in business that words are words, explanations are explanations, promises are promises but only performance is reality. “
I laid it out. I told them that I wanted to see if there was sufficient common ground amongst them to validate that self-regulation could ever happen. I told them I wanted to see if they could see past their own bottom line and look at the industry as a whole and do what was reasonable and appropriate to ensure that this industry would be around for a long time. So I put a challenge on the table.
The challenge was for all the vendors at the table to formulate core belief statements that everyone agreed with in principle and practice. If they could do that I would dedicate my time to helping form the organization. Three hours later, after lots of discussion and debate the AEMSA core beliefs where created and the ball was rolling.
We have a responsibility to:
- To verify the accuracy of nicotine content
- To ensure the quality and safety of all ingredients
- To prepare our products in a clean, sanitary and safe environment
- To package and deliver products and packages in a safe manner
- To provide a level or transparency into the monitoring and verification process
These 5 statements really represent the heart and soul of what AEMSA is. I have never been prouder of what the group of strong, courageous, moral and responsible business people has created by coming together and laying the foundation to what I believe will be the model for self-regulation in the industry.
Since that day I have seen this organization blossom from a mere conversation into a true organization. We laid out the AEMSA standards as a living document and starting point for the self-regulation for manufacturing. We created a robust set of by-laws to ensure that the core goals do not get usurped and guarantee we maintain the one business one vote philosophy. Also since that day I have seen the members band together, forge new business relationships, help improve not only each other’s businesses and the industry.
As we move forward over the next months and years we have a lot of work to accomplish and ambitious goals. Based on my experience with charter members and my interaction with the new members joining every month, I am excited, enthusiastic, and full of pride for AEMSA.
Linc Williams (aka Baldgroove)
Director – We Are Vapers
AEMSA Secretary to the Board