North American Power Sweeping Association
NAPSA President Kevin Kroeger Resigns in Mid-Term
At the end of last year, eight members of the NAPSA Board were invited to become founding
members of 1800SWEEPER.com. Six of them did so. This was not disclosed to Kevin Kroeger until the
for-profit 1800SWEEPER website was launched just last month. The implications concerned Kroeger so
much that he resigned his post as NAPSA's President.
by Ranger Kidwell-Ross
The Board of Directors of the North American Power Sweeping Association (NAPSA) recently made a decision that probably escaped the notice of most of its members. On November 10th a new slate of NAPSA officers was announced in mid-term – but omitted from the membership bulletin was why that was happening. Kept from members was any mention that the Association's President, Kevin Kroeger, had abruptly resigned in mid-term – or why that occurred.
Then, when WorldSweeper requested information about the reason for Kroeger's resignation, as well as a copy of his Letter of Resignation, the issue was further confounded by the Executive Committee's stonewalling response. As you will read in the article, Kimberly Fantaci, NAPSA's Executive Director and the person who signed the response on behalf of the Executive Committee, outlined NAPSA's decision not to provide WorldSweeper with Kroeger's resignation letter. The message cited that doing so would "violate his privacy" and, further, that the president's resignation was for purely "personal reasons."
What this WorldSweeper investigation has uncovered, however, is that Kroeger's so-called "personal reasons" were his concerns about impropriety by members of NAPSA's Board of Directors.
The story thus far...
On November 10th, an email was distributed to members of the North American Power Sweeping Association (NAPSA). The subject line announced "Sweeping Changes Brings (sic) A Revitalized Outlook To NAPSA." The informational email went on to proclaim "the Board's continuing focus of service to the industry" before announcing the Association's "Board of Directors for the remaining 2011-2012 term."
However, rather than changes in regular Board members the rest of the announcement actually concerned a change in NAPSA's officers. James Larko, of Katsam Enterprises, was announced as the new NAPSA president; Ken Lindsey, of Commercial Power Sweep, as Vice President; Gregg Blair, of Superior Tire and Rubber, as Treasurer; and, Mark Carter, of Bill's Sweeping Service, as Secretary. Carl Barton, of Aardvark Sweeping Services, was announced as "continuing to serve as the Board's Immediate Past President."
Most NAPSA members probably read the bulletin over without a second thought. However, at WorldSweeper we were concerned by what we did not read... For example, why was a new slate of NAPSA officers being announced in November, instead of at the usual time next February during National Pavement Expo East? What happened to NAPSA's 2011-2012 president, Kevin Kroeger, whose term wasn't actually due to be over until early 2013?
Further, why was Carl Barton, NAPSA's previous president, now serving as the Board's Immediate Past President – instead of recent president, Kevin Kroeger? Finally, why had no mention whatsoever been made of Kroeger in the NAPSA announcement? Although Kroeger was apparently no longer NAPSA's president, the NAPSA announcement offered none of the usual gratuitous "thank yous" to the previous president for services rendered, etc. We determined to find out more.
Through contacting Kevin Kroeger directly it was learned that he had resigned from NAPSA's board on October 27th. However, since no announcement was made until the bulletin on November 10th, the Executive Committee had a full two weeks to deliberate about what it would communicate to the NAPSA membership. Unfortunately, the collective decision was apparently to tell the membership nothing at all about Kroeger's resignation or the reasons for it.
On November 11th, the day after that bulletin was sent – and without disclosing my communication with Kroeger – I called the NAPSA office and spoke with Nancy Terry, NAPSA's Association Executive. Nancy responded to my questions by telling me she was not authorized to answer any of them and suggested that I should put any requests for information into writing for consideration by NAPSA's new President, Jim Larko, or by the Executive Committee.
Taking her advice, the same day I wrote an e-mail detailing WorldSweeper's questions. In the email to NAPSA, I asked why the change of NAPSA officers occurred when it did, as well as why Kevin Kroeger was no longer NAPSA's President. In addition, WorldSweeper requested the following documents:
WorldSweeper received an email response dated the same day, Friday, November 11th; however, we did not actually see it until we returned to the WorldSweeper office on Monday the 14th. The email consisted primarily of an attachment written by NAPSA's Executive Director, Kimberly Fantaci.
In short, it said that WorldSweeper was being sent – in lieu of what had been requested – a draft of NAPSA's Board Minutes for the month of November 2011, not for all of 2011. And, further, that "Regarding any letters of resignation, consensus is that these were addressed to the Board and any permission for their release resides with the authors." [Kevin Kroeger] ..."was announced as having resigned for 'personal reasons.'"
However, the letter went on, "the executive leadership... are confident that the full Board would agree that 'respecting' Mr. Kroeger's decision would include providing him his privacy." The remainder of the email contained, as mentioned, the Board Minutes from November, along with a listing of the current NAPSA officers and Board members.
I immediately called Kevin Kroeger and asked if he had any privacy issues with regard to WorldSweeper obtaining a copy of his resignation letter. Kroeger said he did not and, as requested, he confirmed in writing via email that he had given permission for his letter of resignation to be made public by being sent to WorldSweeper. The next day, NAPSA was apprised of this information, along with another request for Kroeger's resignation letter; NAPSA's Board Minutes for all of 2011; and, a listing of previous Board members. That was on November 15th.
As we reach our e-newsletter publication deadline on November 21st, WorldSweeper has received no further communication from the NAPSA office. However, NAPSA did release an expanded account of Kevin Kroeger's "personal reasons" for resigning on the 21st. You may see that information in its entirety by clicking this link to a document called NAPSA's "Special Holiday Edition of the NAPSA News." Here are some highlights...
"Mr. Kroeger elected to resign in order to resolve his personal conflict regarding participation by select Board members in a national sweeper marketing cooperative. The Board accepted Mr. Kroeger's resignation with reluctance however personal friendships with members and staff remain in-tact (sic) and he remains a NAPSA member.
"The national marketing cooperative, 1800SWEEPER.COM, was created and is managed by a NAPSA supporter/member who is not a current leader. Participation in the cooperative was offered to various NAPSA members at the cooperative's discretion and direction. Territories in this cooperative are determined by the management of the cooperative. This organization functions as a buying cooperative and marketing entity for the companies that join.
"So you may be asking yourself, what makes this organization different from NAPSA? The North American Power Sweeping Association is a non-profit 501 C 6 organization that was developed to represent the global interests of the power sweeping industry. NAPSA membership requires sweeping as the primary line of business or that the members participate in the industry as a supplier such as sweeper manufacturing. Members of NAPSA are not financially tied to other members in any way. As expressed in its Mission Statement: The members of NAPSA are committed to promoting and educating the power sweeping community while enhancing the environment."
appreciates the rhetoric in the above paragraphs, as a practical matter we believe a number of items
in this situation bear further review and scrutiny by NAPSA members. These include:
It appears that eight members of NAPSA's Board were invited to join 1800SWEEPER in December of 2010. Six of them apparently did so. However, this information was not shared with NAPSA's President, Kevin Kroeger, until the launch of 1800SWEEPER in September. During the intervening timeframe, these Board members were instrumental in steering the course of NAPSA – even though they were financially involved in another organization that shared two of the exact goals of NAPSA – "being a buying cooperative and marketing entity."
Did this factor sway any Board members' decisionmaking during that timeframe? We have no way of knowing and are not alleging that it did. However, it seems clear that the appearance of fairness and openness of the organization has suffered. Without the involvement of WorldSweeper and, perhaps, other news agencies, there is no surety that the NAPSA membership would ever have known anything about the situation. That certainly has the look of impropriety, whether or not any actually occurred.
Another seeming red flag is that the NAPSA Executive Committee has, to date, refused to provide WorldSweeper with transcripts of NAPSA's 2011 Board of Directors' Meetings and/or Kevin Kroeger's Letter of Resignation. WorldSweeper's interest is in confirming that NAPSA's operational methods are in order and transparent. We question why it is not in the best interests of the Association and membership to provide such transcripts to any interested party. To refuse to do so to power sweeping's leading news organization can only serve to raise a host of additional questions.
Our investigation began only because NAPSA's initial information release about new officers made no mention of why the officers were changing at a non-standard time, or that the previous president had resigned for what he felt was a conflict of interest situation. NAPSA's continuing refusal to provide its 2011 records for scrutiny does not serve to allay concerns about how the organization is being operated.
We want to make it clear that we want nothing but the best outcomes for NAPSA. Our industry deserves a vibrant organization, one that is a leader in innovation and benefits. However, it is difficult to be certain that members of 1800SWEEPER – who are also officers or members of NAPSA's Board of Directors – may not have a divided agenda when it comes to future planning and critical decisionmaking. After all, part of NAPSA's mandate is to provide a higher level of contract sweeping accounts to its membership. Another benefit of NAPSA is that it is a 'group buying club.' Both of these are also components of 1800SWEEPER.
We do not see a problem with NAPSA members also taking part in 1800SWEEPER. However, being a NAPSA officer or on the NAPSA Board and being a 1800SWEEPER member would seem to create a potential conflict of interest situation. The current scenario, which is still unfolding, is an excellent case in point: Six current NAPSA officers and/or Board members – including the new president, vice-president, secretary and immediate past president – are also founding members of 1800SWEEPER.
[Note: On December 2nd, at Pavement LIVE, Gregg Blair of Superior Elastomers told me in a personal conversation that I had erroneously listed his position above (treasurer) as one of the NAPSA Officer positions that was also a member of 1800SWEEPER, instead of the correct person, Mark Carter who holds the position of secretary. We sincerely regret this mistake and are correcting this error on the same day the information was provided. We also posted the information to WorldSweeper's Facebook page.]
And, all appear to have been involved in a decision to keep from NAPSA's rank-and-file membership former president Kevin Kroeger's resignation due to the conflict of interest he perceived.
WorldSweeper recommends that full disclosure – including a copy of Kevin Kroeger's Letter of Resignation – be provided to all rank-and-file NAPSA members. Then, there should be a vote on whether NAPSA Board members may also take part in 1800SWEEPER or any other organization whose goals compete with those of NAPSA. Additionally, if there is not currently a conflict of interest document that must be signed by NAPSA Officers and Board members, there should be.
Expect more coverage of this story in WorldSweeper's December newsletter, if not before. In the meantime, we urge all U.S. sweeping contractors – and especially current NAPSA members – to insist that the NAPSA organization operate in an atmosphere of full transparency and disclosure. Anything less is a disservice to every NAPSA member, and potential member, in America.
Story Update, November 29th
received a reply from NAPSA to its
request for the Association's minutes from 2011 and the Letter of Resignation by Kevin Kroeger.
Kimberly Fantaci wrote in a letter dated November 21, 2001:
"Regarding Mr. Kroeger's resignation letter, we would suggest that you speak directly to him."
WorldSweeper will be evaluating the ramifications of this further refusal of its document request. We have no wish to set a precedent that might harm the Association in any way going into the future. However, a serious breach of trust appears to have occurred within the highest echelons of the organization and we continue to believe that total transparency in the situation would likely provide the best long-term outcome for all concerned.
WorldSweeper will continue to post updates on this ongoing situation as they occur.
Ranger Kidwell-Ross, the author of this story, is a graduate economist and the editor of WorldSweeper.com. He was the founder and editor of American Sweeper magazine and has been writing about the power sweeping industry since 1988. You may reach him online via WorldSweeper's contact form, or by calling toll free to (866) 635-2205.
Kimberly Fantaci, NAPSA's Executive Director, may be reached via email sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Nancy Terry is NAPSA's Association Executive. Her email is: email@example.com. You may also reach either at the NAPSA office by calling 888-757-0130.
After this initial article was written, a follow-up was provided in December of 2011. Click here to access the follow-up story.
If you have questions or comments about this interview, please, let us know and we can add them in as an addendum to this article.
The following messages have been received with regard to this article...
November 22, 2011 12:49:52 PM
"I was contacted about joining 1800Sweeper but haven't followed up on it
yet. Your article on NAPSA is timely. Clearly there is a conflict of interest. Whatever the case,
thank you for posting your article."
November 22, 2011 12:42:04 PM
November 22, 2011 11:24:22 AM
"Unless I am misunderstanding, Board members of NAPSA, which is a non-profit, participated
in a private, for-profit offering from an outside company (1800 sweeper) that was for personal
profit and benefit to their personal companies and in direct conflict with stated mission of NAPSA
and, depending on what region you are from, detrimental to specific local NAPSA member companies.
Those same board members also voted to accept this company 1800sweeper as a member / partner thus
endorsing this unknown, unproven entity to the general sweeping community and to potential
customers. I find it hard to believe this is not in some way a violation that invalidates their
November 23, 2011 5:00:34 AM PST
November 29, 2011 1:17:46 PM PST
"For me this is a very serious change, look at the NAPSA partners everyone up until now was a vendor or someone who was focused on the sweeping industry in a non competitive way. 1800sweeper is a step change in NAPSA position. They are now flying the flag of a company that is a competitor, solely based on the fact that the board had financial gain at stake.
"The irony here is that when I read about it I thought it might be a good idea and they actually shot themselves in the foot with the execution of the idea. They put themselves and their buddies ahead of what is best for the customer. It is all about the execution, good ideas are a dime a dozen."
– Midwest Contractor
November 29, 2011 1:36:28 PM PST
"Will cooperate with other members and industry professionals, and work with them to advance the common business and professional interest within the sweeping industry. (The canon is to 'advance the common business' again they used their position to advance their interests at the detriment to other Members)"
– Midwest Contractor
November 30, 2011 11:12:52 AM PST
– Central US Contractor
November 30, 2011 7:36:38 AM PST
Officers 4 out of 5 are.
The following statements are from NAPSA web site!
– The NAPSA Code of Ethics requires sweeping professionals to take an oath to be dedicated to the highest standards of professionalism, integrity and competence while recognizing their responsibility to their customers, employees, and the public.
The NAPSA Certification has nine functions:
7th: Certification establishes a yard stick for customers to measure professional practitioners. Outlining these practices aids in the fight against business in this industry that operate below the radar of ethical, legal and professional standards.
If eight out of ten current board members are CSC they may be in breach of their own "CODE OF ETHICS"!
Without any doubt there is a competing objective between these two organizations.
– NE US Contractor
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