As recalled by Dan Bender

I wrote this article a few years ago, but I think it may be useful to the many new members, as well as the long term membership. Knowing your roots, and where you came from, can help guide you to where you should be going.

Since the original article, Mike Barbata passed the President’s baton to Donna Springer, who passed it on to Andrew Brady, and then to Rick Chase, and now to our current President, JR Dicker.

These leaders have provided a lot of hard work and dedication to the association. 

There were several early players that probably retain some memories, or details important to the founding of the association, but because I’m a sucker, I was asked to write an article about some of the association early history before it gets lost. I know some of it is already lost from my brain cells having given way to the ravages of…just being in this business! So before it all goes, here it is.

In the early times, a group of Southern California courier and messenger types got together to see if they could work on some common ground without any shots being fired. While I never saw any guns displayed, there were plenty of holsters, but usually containing those giant sized two way radios that you hoped were still functional and that their private radio towers were not down. Also, we can’t forget the big pagers that only meant “call the office”. It certainly was a different world for business equipment and methods during this period. Remember, there were no cell phones, internet, few PC’s (remember Commodore), and fax machines were just starting to show up.

Me, being from an Orange County routed courier, and the first “outsider” with the LA boys, was quite interested in this group of characters. Some of these were Irwin Winston, Steve Hamile, Mike Dinardo, Jeff & Caryl Millen (the only female), Harvey, Bob Ruben, Jeff Rhodes, Jack Nissim, Jack Averill, Chet & Harry Bohrer, John Hussey, Jay Krupp, and others that escape me. The Association of Messenger & Courier Services was born from these people taking the time and effort to do it.

The first meetings were held in a locker room at the Culver City Veterans Park building. It was a fitting location for this type of assemblage to see just who was who, while hoping they would not try to steal your accounts, dispatchers, or drivers, and of course it was handy in case any fights might break out. The food and beverage service consisted of several cases of beer, cold cuts, chips, etc, usually retrieved at the last minute from a local convenience store.

Simple business did get done with an “official” board of directors and officers. Some of the issues for this group were soaring work comp costs (the IC folks didn’t care), companies without PUC permits, and LA mayor Tom Bradley doing away with parking on downtown streets. The group did succeed in meeting with Tom and his staff to formulate some methods for certain “free time” and space at various parking lots and garages.

The first two presidents were Steve Miley and Mike Dinardo; they did a great job in getting this fledgling organization off the ground and focused on group issues. Bob Ruben became the next leader. During Bob’s watch it became apparent that companies in the San Francisco bay area were interested in becoming members. The Southern group wanted to be sure that its interests and funds would still be in the forefront, while the Northern group wanted to start getting involved. Christine Buteyn assisted as the first official Executive Director. Both the South and the North knew that a “California” association would be better able to tackle industry issues. Calls and meetings were held to see how all interests could be accommodated, and ways were worked out for success. Joel Ritch, Lenny Farin, Ernie Holbrook, and Bart Cavallaro were some who were instrumental in starting what became the Northern Chapter.

Joe Kent became the first association president from the north. The next two presidents Lenny Farin and Mike Hubert, also came from northern companies. I served a stint as Executive Director before turning it over to Ron Broberg during Mike’s term.

IRS audits for driver reimbursement methods (Accountable Plan) were the big issue for a couple years, along with the constant tug of wars with Comp and Non Owned & Hired insurance carriers. Some of the bay area airports and cities were trying to create “special” additional taxes, fees, stickers and such to get more revenue from delivery companies. The association was successful in blocking most of these efforts. Your CA permit and tax is still valuable in blocking city business license fees and excise taxes.

Caryl Millen became the first female president of the association. During Caryls’ term many of the earlier issues were still to be dealt with, as well as increased union activity. Also, while AMCS scored a victory with Rule 44, Work Comp rates were becoming the highest ever, and many companies were beginning to adapt to using independent contract drivers.

John Slaughter had the next watch as president. During his term, Third Party Administrators (TPAs) became more active since many businesses were choosing the IC route for their business plan. It was also decided that since more operators had branched into other lines of deliveries, the original Association of Messenger & Courier Services name no longer represented the breadth of our member’s activities. AMCS then became the CDA, California Delivery Association.

Our current president, and retiring president is Mike Barbata. What can I say about Mike and the issues that you don’t already know about. If you are not aware of his efforts, those of the board of directors, and Ron Broberg, then you must be in some other association or business. Mike has done an extraordinary job of dealing with complex issues, while moving your association along, and communicating with the members. Thank you Mike Barbata for devoting your time and effort!!!

Many of the association members have been through earthquakes, devastating fires, riots and such, all while helping support each other to make it. In closing, I just want to say associations are formed for groups to be able to communicate and advance important issues. There always was, and always will be, outside influences determined to affect the way you do business. Only as a determined group can you confront these onslaughts. Pay attention to issues, meet your fellow members, and contribute to your association. Keep and support the spirit of your association and each other.