First Time Attendees

Omni Grove Park Inn

Please join us for a First Time Attendee's Reception on Sunday, May 5 from 6:00pm - 6:30pm in the Grand Ballroom Foyer prior to the BSA Speakeasy Dinner to meet with other first time attendees, your BSA Leadership and the Convention Planning Committee.

Following is a series of FAQs with answers we hope will make your experience even more valuable to you and your company.

If you have a question that isn’t answered here please contact Kelsey Pacheco, in the BSA office or any member of the 2024 Convention Planning Committee:

Jason and Tia Vasquez, Applied Industrial Technologies
Jack and Elizabeth Simpson, Applied Industrial Technologies
Bill and Heather Shephard, BDI
John and Sue Masek, Bearing Service, Inc.
Todd and Amanda Hamlin, DXP Enterprises, Inc.
Kyle and Stephanie Sobke, Dodge Industrial, Inc.
Doug and Sandy Knauf, The Timken Company

Frequently Asked Questions

What is BSA?

BSA is the forum to promote networking and knowledge-sharing and the sale of bearings through authorized distributors. BSA is the international service and educational organization of almost 100 companies distributing factory-warranted ball, roller, and anti-friction bearings and invited manufacturers of bearings and related products and is made up of volunteers who meet three times a year to fulfill the mission.

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Who are the leaders of the association?

Each year, BSA elects a president, officers, and a board of directors.
(Click here to see the leaders of the association)

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Who is the staff of the association?

S. M. Van Kirk served as BSA's first executive director beginning in 1966. Following Van Kirk's retirement in 1971, Humes & Associates in Chicago, Illinois, became the association management staff. Chuck Whitchurch served as executive director until February 1973, when Richard W. Church took over the position. In 1977, Durward Humes became executive director when Mr. Church left Humes & Associates. In 1985, CM Services, Inc., Glen Ellyn, Illinois, assumed management of BSA.

BSA is run by the professional management staff of CM Services, Inc., The Association Partnership Company®, in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. Dick Church serves as Executive Director, Jerilyn Church serves as Executive Secretary, Jeff Church serves as Managing Director, Catherine Church serves as Association Manager, and Kelsey Pacheco serves as Association Meetings Manager.

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Who develops the Convention program?

The president appoints a convention planning committee, typically consisting of 5-6 couples, including at least one participating manufacturer. This committee meets the day after the preceding convention (sometimes before if necessary) and several times throughout the year, including a site visit to the convention hotel. Based on suggestions from the Member Engagement and Programs Committee, they select the program, social events, and draft a budget. The board approves the budget at their Fall Meeting.

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What should I wear at the Convention?

Men - slacks, open neck, banded collar or polo shirts, sweaters, walking shorts, no ties/jackets.

Women - slacks, skirts, blouses, sweaters, walking shorts, open neck banded collar or polo shirts.

Dress code for the evening events, please refer to the Social Events page.

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Do I need to wear my Convention badge?

Please wear your badge when attending all Convention sessions and events. Admission to the functions is restricted to those wearing badges.

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Do I need to go to the Registration Area if I have already registered?

Please visit the registration area when you arrive on Saturday, May 4 from 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm in the Vanderbilt Registration Room or Sunday, May 5 from 7:30 am - 11:00 am in Grand Ballroom BC. You will receive your badge, a registration list, and information on any important changes to the schedule.

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Do I have to pre-register for the functions I plan to attend?

Although Convention food functions are included in the registration fee, some attendees do not register for them in advance, but do attend “unannounced.” BSA must give the hotel a count of event attendees 5 days in advance and is billed for the number guaranteed, even if the number served is less. If registrants attend unannounced, a shortage of food or seats may occur. We are sure you agree that it is in everyone’s best interest not to pay for food not served. Always indicate on your registration all events you plan to attend and while on site, inform staff as soon as possible if you will be unable to attend a function.

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What if I want to attend a function I didn’t register for?

Please contact staff who will let you know if space is available.

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Can I get a refund for tours or sporting events?

All events have been guaranteed and deposits paid approximately 3-4 weeks prior to the convention. BSA cannot offer refunds for cancellations received after April 8, 2024.

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I have a special need or food requirement. What should I do?

Please indicate any special needs or food requirements on your registration form or convey this information to staff prior to arrival or when you pick up your registration materials onsite. If you have vegetarian or other special dietary requirements, you will be issued a Vegetarian or Special Meal card which should be placed in your badge holder. Place the card next to your plate at each meal function so that the servers know you need a special meal. Be sure to pick up the card after your meal has been served and place it back in your badge holder so it can be re-used at the next meal function.

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I have guests with me. Can they attend a function?

Guests may attend certain functions by completing a guest registration form and paying the fee for each function. Please contact staff for specific requests. Guests are not personnel in your company or their spouses, they must be registered to attend. Guests would be children, caretakers, parents, etc.

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When was BSA formed?

BSA was founded in 1966, by the merger of the former Anti-Friction Bearing Distributors Association and the former Association of Bearing Specialists.


Bearing distribution in the industrial aftermarket began before World War I and grew in scope and in number of distributing companies in the two decades between the major wars. It became the broad dynamic industry it is today after World War II.

Joseph M. Bruening can be credited with the idea of forming an industry trade association. As bearing specialists, his company and others had no way to secure deferments for employees who were being drafted during World War II; although bearings were a critical material, bearing distributors had no status with the government. Bruening went to Washington, D.C., to see if and how bearings specialists could protect their staff members. The U.S. War Manpower Commission said that if Bruening wanted recognition and a chance to obtain deferments for employees, the industry needed a voice—a trade association.

Bruening immediately began organizing what was first called the Central States Anti-Friction Bearing Distributors' Committee, which later became AFBDA. A preliminary meeting was held in Cleveland, Ohio, on May 11, 1943. Attending were Ohio Ball Bearing Co., Berry Bearing Co. (Chicago), Indiana Bearings, Inc. (Indianapolis), Neiman Bearing Co. (St. Louis), and Detroit Ball Bearing Co. (Detroit).

On May 12, 1943, Thomas B. Moore—as chairman of the new group—immediately sent a letter to the War Manpower Commission requesting deferment consideration for company employees. It was noted that, from the above companies, 67 persons from a total employment of 230 people were in the armed services, seven were awaiting induction, and 41 were awaiting reclassification. The new AFBDA was recognized in Washington.

AFBDA was officially founded at a second meeting on September 11, 1943. In addition to Bruening, attending distributors included: Roland N. Dames (R-J Bearings Corp., St. Louis), Harold C. Goehrig (Industrial Bearing Corp., Buffalo), C.J. Kostbade (for Les Berry of Berry Bearing), Thomas B. Moore (Detroit Ball), C. H. Neiman (Neiman Bearing), J. D. Pence (Bearing Distributors, Inc., Cleveland), J. F. Raymond (Indiana Bearings), Ray M. Ring (Ray M. Ring Co., now Bearing Headquarters, Inc., Chicago), and O. D. Robbins (Kentucky Bearings Service, Louisville). Representatives of five manufacturers—Fafnir, Marlin-Rockwell, SKF, United Motors, and Timken—also were present.

During the next two decades, AFBDA undertook a variety of trade association activities, including cost-of-doing-business surveys, periodic newsletters and bulletins on current industry problems, and discussions with manufacturers on ways to solve mutual problems. There were also in-house training programs, seminars on sales management and other subjects, and a successful fight with the U.S. government on the dumping of excess bearings. By the mid-1960s, AFBDA had about 50 members.

After World War II, AFBDA met regularly twice a year. The annual business meeting was always held in Chicago. Manufacturers were invited to these meetings, which were held in the fall. A combined business and social meeting were held each spring, in a variety of city and resort locations.


In December 1951, at the Shamrock Hotel in Houston, a small group of distributors who did not belong to AFBDA founded ABS. This group included Bud L. Behring (Behring's Bearing Service, Houston), William F. Chase (Bearing Service Co., Pittsburgh), J. Hudson Crockett (Standard Machine & Supply Co., Norfolk), George W. Elftman (General Bearings Company, Los Angeles), Jack R. Gelomb (Iowa Bearing Co., Inc., Davenport), Harold Johnson and Frank Stevens (General Bearings, Co., Chicago), Eugene Tappero (Michigan Bearing Co., Detroit), and Joseph K. Weiser (Minnesota Bearing Co., Minneapolis).

A constitution was written. Jack Gelomb was elected president, and Bill Chase, who was the guiding leader throughout ABS's life, was named chairman of the board.

The Board of Directors met at least three times a year during ABS's life to develop plans and review accomplishments. In 1952, the first of the two-day annual meetings was held in Chicago. Typically, the opening day was for distributor members only, and the second day was open to ball and roller bearing manufacturers.

Other projects evolved as ABS matured. In the early years, one special project was undertaken each year. This led to the development of several bearing books; all were needed and previously unavailable publications.

One major thrust was communicating to manufacturers the vital role of specialist companies in bearing distribution and the need for current data about the marketplace. ABS also retained Washington counsel to moni­tor the impact of imported bearings.

ABS communicated with its members through a monthly magazine, Your Bearing Specialist, and at the annual meetings. It developed a statistical program on the costs of doing business, along with other management tools.

In addition, ABS worked with manufacturers in setting up educational programs and training films for distributor employees. Its Liaison Committee advised manufacturers on sales and technical assistance needs, on improved packaging and cataloging, and on stronger support of the distribution function. Manufacturers, in turn, took part in meetings through presentations and participation on panels.

By the early 1960s, ABS represented about 40 bearing specialists. Jess Raban, an attorney associated with General Bearings Co. in Chicago, served as staff.


In the early 1960s, there was increasing talk about and pressures for a merger of AFBDA and ABS. Many distributors saw the need for a single, stronger voice. There also was concern about duplication of effort and of operating expense, as well as criticism from manufacturers about the costs of attending two separate meetings.

However, there also was resistance to the merger—each group had its own policies and habits, egos, camaraderie, and pride. Accepting a merger was hard and, for some, emotional. It took two formal meetings, after years of casual discussion and informal contacts, to make BSA a reality.

The first formal meeting took place in Minneapolis in late 1965. A group of key leaders from each association met to seek common ground. Joe Weiser of ABS and Olin Livingston of AFBDA were co-chairmen.

The spirit of cooperation and the desire to merge prevailed. The two groups met in a larger, again formal, and decisive meeting in Las Vegas in February 1966. Following a smaller planning meeting, 12 representatives of each association met in full session.

Following combined board meetings in June in Chicago and in August in Detroit, the new association's first annual convention was held in Chicago in October 1966. This was BSA's only fall annual meeting. The next annual meeting was held the following May in San Francisco; all annual conventions since have been held in the spring.

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