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New NMEDA CEO aims to ‘reinvigorate’ market 

New NMEDA CEO aims to ‘reinvigorate’ market 

Toby CummingsTAMPA, Fla. – Toby Cummings has been leading various associations most of his professional career, but in his newest gig, as CEO of the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association, he might have found the “perfect opportunity.” 

“My dad was a Ford dealer in Nebraska,” he said. “That has raked on me. I’ve missed the roots of the automobile industry and so in that way this was the perfect opportunity. I also enjoy working more with companies as members and board members, so this is my speed.” 

Here’s what Cummings, formerly the executive director of the International Municipal Signal Association, had to say about his “bag of tricks” and the serious work of NMEDA. 

HME News: Tell me about your time at the IMSA. 

Toby Cummings: When I got there, they were updating their certification programs. Anyone who has put their hands on a traffic signal or who has painted a line on a road has to be certified by them. They were doing 15,000 exams a year using a Scantron and a No. 2 pencil. They hadn’t updated their certification and education program in 10 years. Now, they’re fully online. I enjoyed that process a lot. 

HME: What was a big issue at IMSA while you were there? 

Cummings: We spent a lot of time with the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices talking about driverless vehicles and the need for six-inch lines vs. four-inch lines on roads. We said, “Great, we understand the cars and computers need to be able to read those lines, but who is going to pay for the cost of the manpower and the materials to get us there.” 

HME: There seems to be some crossover between IMSA and NMEDA in terms of the importance of certification and the impact of technology. 

Cummings: I think NMEDA has done a good job staying current, but my experience in both of those areas did play a part in them hiring me. I think it was also my experience in large conferences and events, which includes hosting events six times a year with 1,000 attendees minimum. Not that we’ll grow NMEDA’s annual conference that large, but we’d like to reinvigorate it. One of our board members called it my bag of tricks. 

HME: How else do you hope to make your mark on NMEDA? 

Cummings: I’d like to bring some efficiencies, including incorporating more of what I call disappearing task forces than standing committees. When you look at today’s structure for standing committees, it’s not a great fit for young volunteers. If you ask them, “Can you be part of a committee that meets every month for the next three years,” they’re going to tell you they have a job, a family, a life, good luck. A disappearing task force is finite. Here’s something we need to get done and once it’s done the task force disappears. 

HME: You’re still relatively new to this role and this industry – has anything surprised you so far? 

Cummings: I did have a preconceived notion that it was a dealer network to drive more business. But we have major automobile manufacturers getting involved and NMEDA requiring crash test data before a vehicle is deemed safe according to NMEDA’s QAP. We’re changing lives. 


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