DSA Remembers Bob Brouse

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Joseph N. Mariano, president and CEO of the Direct Selling Association (DSA), shared the following on the recent loss of direct selling legend Bob Brouse.

With deep sadness, I write to report the loss of a direct selling industry and association leader, a recipient of the first DSEF Circle of Honor in 1988, and the 1995 DSA Hall of Fame award, J. Robert “Bob” Brouse.

A man whose work helped shape modern direct selling’s leadership framework as we know it today, Bob passed away on September 30, 2020, in Bemidji, Minn., at the age of 89.

Bob galvanized industry leadership behind his vision for the direct selling industry we know today. Through his work, the industry gained representation before the Federal Government and other important legislative and regulatory bodies in our nation’s capital.

In 1968, Bob was appointed president of the National Association of Direct Selling Companies (NADS). Bob led the Association’s 1969 move from Winona, Minn. to Washington, D.C., as well as the Association’s transformation from NADSC to the Direct Selling Association (DSA). Fifty years later, DSA’s presence in our nation’s capital provides direct access to government officials whose decisions can profoundly affect the ability of direct sellers to do business.

In 1970, Bob’s leadership galvanized support for the industry collaboration that produced the modern DSA Code of Ethics. This first version of the Code, as finally drafted, recognized the obligations and moral and legal responsibilities of Association members to consumers. It set forth the basic, fair and ethical principles and practices to which DSA companies pledge their adherence. Without this work, the channel’s modern self-regulatory framework provided by the Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council (DSSRC) would not have been possible.

In 1973, Bob worked with visionary leaders from within DSA to form the Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF). Established to serve the public as the industry’s goodwill ambassador, DSEF offers comprehensive programs that advance education about the industry and individual economic empowerment.

Today, DSEF’s purpose—one that seeks to engage, equip and empower educators to provide students with an accurate understanding of the direct selling industry as a powerful go-to-market strategy, distribution model and entrepreneurial option, and to teach the correct principles of direct selling—remains of vital importance to the channel.

As Bob transitioned the role of DSA president to Neil Offen and the Association’s next generation, his work laid the groundwork for the 1978 launch of the World Federation of Direct Selling Association (WFDSA).  Today, the Federation’s key objective—to ensure direct selling pursues the highest level of ethical conduct in the global marketplace, and to foster advocacy by partnering with government, consumer and academic leaders around the world—remains true to Bob’s vision.

Individuals wishing to reach out to Bob’s family may do so here.

We honor Bob for his work and vision that shaped the channel we now know, and we are thankful for his legacy that forms the industry’s foundation and allows it to continue to innovate, adapt and thrive.