Celebrating 25 Years: A Big Thank-You

By Bob Benson and Les Sweeney
[Publishers' Letter]

Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP) began with a simple idea. Our founder, Sherri Williamson, believed she was not alone in wanting a professional, inclusive membership association for massage therapists and bodyworkers that would offer good value and responsive personal service. A lot has changed in 25 years, but those hallmarks resonate as strongly as ever. 

We suspect that even Sherri is surprised that ABMP now has an opportunity to serve 82,000-plus members. Our talented staff of 53 have worked hard to improve membership value each year, but credit for that growth goes equally to our members: the central engine of ABMP’s growth has been favorable recommendations about service and value from already pleased members. Thank you for your continuing referrals.

We earn your trust by hiring and supporting a highly talented, creative staff. Since the current ownership group took the helm in 1996, ABMP has dramatically enhanced the depth and breadth of its member supports. 

Massage & Bodywork advanced from a modest compilation of whatever articles got submitted, to an award-winning publication attracting sage writers and focusing on issues of great importance to the diverse massage and bodywork profession. 

• Advice and tools for starting and sustaining a practice keep getting stronger. 

• ABMP’s voice was felt as the number of states with massage regulation grew from 22 to 44. 

• We went from essentially zero school engagement to a seven-person education department that constructively supports the universe of now more than 1,400 massage and bodywork schools. 

• Platforms and communications vehicles that didn’t previously exist now are important to ABMP members. For example, 25 years ago we didn’t know what a webinar was; today, ABMP members can access (at no charge) more than 90 archived webinars presented by leading thinkers in the profession. In addition, we now provide member website support, social media connections, and online continuing education. Our staff members are here for you to develop the content and assist you in accessing it.

With growth comes responsibility 

ABMP already gives a lot back to the profession through the quality of its print, online, and school support offerings. Going beyond, we played an instrumental role in the creation of the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards. We are currently helping the Massage Therapy Foundation by providing the backbone structure to build receptivity for their research literacy workshops. We periodically partner with other national massage organizations, even the American Massage Therapy Association, on projects of importance to the profession. And ABMP is contributing full weight to helping lead a series of meetings for leaders of seven national massage organizations. 

Your membership helps make such engagement possible. When we are involved in these endeavors, we remember that our staff participants are representing you.

We remain imperfect. We value you telling us when we goof; such feedback enables us to correct and improve. But we also value the opportunity to serve you—our mantra is to focus on assisting each member, one at a time. Do that cheerfully and professionally and the overall membership totals take care of themselves. We are especially proud of our membership department staff: in 2011, they fielded 78,730 membership service or inquiry calls—82 percent of the time answering within 16 seconds, 98 percent of the time within 48 seconds. And, as you have learned, they don’t just answer the phone; they knowledgeably help you with your needs.

Oh, and one other small detail 

When ABMP began operations in October 1987, the fee for an annual professional membership was set at $199. Today that membership costs—$199. In every aspect, a membership in 2012 is immensely more valuable. Yet, despite a roughly 99 percent increase in the Consumer Price Index over those 25 years, that core membership rate remains the same. How is that possible? You make it possible by recommending us to massage and bodywork colleagues. A large membership enables us to gain efficiencies, hire top-flight staff members, and commission innovative new projects. 

No, we can’t promise that the $199 price will remain unchanged. Some cost pressures are unrelenting. Still, when the cost of a gallon of gasoline has increased from $0.95 to more than $3.50 and the price for a first class stamp has doubled since 1987, continuing to charge $199 for a professional membership throughout that time period is a testament to our real commitment to member value.

We’re not done yet. Important profession-strengthening work remains. And our staff never tires of seeking ways to connect with member needs while constantly improving member value. So, again, thanks for your part in making this progress possible. We hope to have the privilege of serving each of you for many years ahead.


Warm regards,




Bob Benson



Les Sweeney