The formation of an employers association was the long-term retirement dream of Marvin B. Ault, a former Proctor and Gamble Labor Relations Manager. When Marv Ault retired from Proctor and Gamble, he and his wife Ruth moved to Central Florida and he began work on his dream project. After many long months of research, planning and networking, the Employers Association of Mid-Florida was formed. Lou Whitney, then VP of Stromberg-Carlson actually launched the Association with a breakfast of local business and HR professionals in August of 1980. 28 employers joined that that month and we were off and running.
There were the normal growth pains in those early days, but many businesses quickly recognized the need for an organization that could help to provide a healthy employee relations climate within the business community. The organization expanded rapidly after the first year and began to spread its wings beyond the Mid-Florida geographic area. The organization was providing services and training programs in all four corners of the state, so it was time to expand the name of the organization. In 1982 the association was renamed to the Employers Association of Florida, Inc.
Today, EAF serves members in 24 states (and growing). Effective January 1, 2011, EAF changed the name to Employers Association Forum, Inc., to reflect its expanding membership beyond Florida. The memberships and portfolio of services has continued to grow since 1980, and today EAF is one of the most successful employers associations in the country. The credit for this tremendous success must be given to a handful of people, who are:
- Marvin Ault, who was the founder of EAF and served as Vice President and inspirational leader until his death in 1995.
- Lou Whitney, a founding father, was instrumental in launching EAF in August of 1980 and was the first Chairman of the Board. Under his guidance and vision, he saw EAF grow from a local Central Florida association into the national organization we are today. He continued in a leadership role as Chairman Emeritus until his death in 2018.
- John Hinkle, who joined the association in 1981 as a Vice President and served as President from 1985 until his retirement at the end of 1995. John passed away in December 2004.
- Rita K. Manny, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, who joined the association in early 1981 and has been a major contributor to the current success of EAF. Rita has given EAF 100% effort for over three decades and was recognized for her contributions by being appointed President of EAF in January 1996.
- Christine C. Crews, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, who also joined EAF in 1981 and is currently Vice President Human Resource Services, has been an invaluable asset to the organization over the years and has dedicated her career to making EAF a success.
- Carol A. Malko, who is currently serving as EAF’s Office Manager, joined EAF in 1988.
- Tanya Algee, SHRM-CP, who is currently serving as EAF’s HR & Training Administration, joined EAF in 2001.
There are many other individuals from all parts of the business community who have played an important role in the history and growth of EAF. However, there is one individual that deserves special recognition for his involvement and contributions to EAF since the formative years. Thomas C. Garwood Jr., Esq., from the law firm of FordHarrison LLP, has served as the association’s General Counsel and major supporter from the very beginning. His belief in EAF and its mission has never faltered.
EAF celebrated its 38th anniversary in 2018 and recognizes the many years we have been privileged to serve our members. The leadership and vision of our Charter Members has brought us to where we are today, and will continue to direct our course in the future.