Forty-six-year meetings and hospitality industry veteran David Bruce, managing partner of Ft. Worth, Texas-area’s meeting planning company CMP Services, knows and cares enough about his profession that he realizes it’s time for a big change.

More specifically, Bruce, who counts pitching for the College World Series champion Arizona Wildcats in 1976 as one of his accomplishments, is on a mission to improve the lives and livelihoods of independent planners, who most recently were shocked by the decision in January by Marriott International to cut the commission rate for indie planners to 7 percent, from the traditional 10 percent, at its U.S. and Canadian properties.

Bruce, who ironically started his industry career with Marriott in the 1970s, led the charge by creating the Meeting Planners Unite group on LinkedIn, and in early March took the initiative to form an association for independent planners of the same name.

“It’s very exciting for a 60-year-old guy,” Bruce joked. “The Marriott issue is certainly the issue of the day, but there are other issues that need to be addressed moving forward that involves all facets of this industry.”

While the commission cuts hit independent planners in the pocketbook hard, Bruce also sees the critical need for indies to coalesce to reap the benefits that employees of corporations or associations receive, such as healthcare.

“We should be able to help quite a few planners each year,” said Bruce, who in mid-March counted approximately 1,000 planners in the fold. “And also we’re going to set up a scholarship fund for students that are going into college in the event field. We’re going to take care of those who are in the industry now and set up those who are coming through the industry in the college ranks.

“Someday I’ll be able to leave this business and this world knowling that I’ve left a mark in this industry, and I’m very excited about that,” Bruce said.