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Ed Clare Quits PERA

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The abrupt exit of Ed Clare as executive director of the Production Equipment Rental Association after serving in that post for 12 years has cast a cloud over the future of the organization, whose members include companies that supply film and video production gear.Clare, who is one of PERA’s founders and personified the organization’s public face, issued a statement in early December announcing that he had tendered his resignation as executive director effective Jan. 31: “My resignation was prompted by an email I received from Archie Fletcher, president of PERA, asking me to do so.” Clare told Below the Line that as the new president of PERA, Fletcher “wanted to put together a team he’s most comfortable with, so he asked for me to resign.”Clare’s statement followed a recent round of sharp dues increases, the first such hikes in a dozen years. As a result of these increases a number of equipment and rental companies have begun dropping their PERA memberships.“The membership fee was increased quite a bit, and after Ed’s departure, a considerable number of companies have started pulling out,” said the head of one major member firm. “They’re jumping like rats off a sinking ship,” he added, noting that he was in the process of dropping his company’s PERA membership. A PERA board member who declined to be identified said the ouster of Clare was mishandled, and that Fletcher acted unilaterally in asking Clare to quit, without first getting the requisite approval of the board. “As a result, very few people knew this action was going to be taken, which wound up alienating a lot of PERA members.”Fletcher, one of the owners of Fletcher Chicago, was not available for comment. PERA VP Kay Baker, speaking on behalf of the board, conceded that some firms were departing. “A majority have renewed their membership, but there is always attrition in any organization,” she noted, and said new firms were also joining PERA. Baker acknowledged that while the fee increases were encountering resistance from some member firms, the higher amounts were for programs and services. Annual dues had been $500 for most PERA members, with the largest firms assessed $1,000. Companies with three to nine employees now pay $575; those with 10 to 24 employees pay $795; and those with 25 to 49 employees are charged $925. For firms with 50 to 99 fulltime employees, the yearly tab is $1,465. “It’s more important to focus on where PERA is going, which is moving forward and improving the benefits to the membership,” she said. These include a new “feature-rich and very intuitive member website” to be launched at the end of this year. “Also for the first time in the history of PERA, we have a board of very dedicated, hard-working members who are spearheading committees to address issues or projects that have not been handled in the past,” she declared. These, she said, include committees on marketing and advertising, insurance research and metadata. As for the request for Clare to resign, “it was just a business decision and not intended to be disparaging to Mr. Clare in any way,” said Baker, who is sales manager at Film/Video Equipment Services in Denver. “But I don’t think he should have issued the statement on his own,” she said, because by going public he abrogated an agreement he had made with Fletcher to put out a joint announcement. She would not, however, comment on whether the board had approved in advance Fletcher’s decision to ask Clare to quit.

Written by Jack Egan

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