ASA Young Executives - Our Industry’s Future How does a company preserve that which enables it to succeed for one generation after another? The PHCP and industrial PVF industry is certainly one with so many examples of how wholesalers, manufacturers and independent manufacturers representatives have persevered time and again through changing economic and political realities, evolving logistics, industry consolidation, and new products and technologies. One constant that has helped businesses throughout our industry to maintain integrity and productivity over time is people. If one considers people to be among a company’s most important assets, then investing in their professional development is a very relevant and wise investment for a company’s future. A company’s affiliation with associations will help to cultivate the best of today’s middle managers into tomorrow’s most complete business leaders in the industry. “For many years, ASA’s Young Executives Division (more commonly referred to as Y.E.) has helped the next generation of industry executives learn from one another, collaborate and build trust to help make us and our companies better,” Sioux Chief Manufacturing Co.’s Ed Ismert says. Y. E. members represent a diversity of perspectives among different supply-chain partners from many markets across the country. APR Supply Co’s Scott Weaver and M. Cooper Supply Co.’s Greg Goode agree this provides Y.E. members with a professional maturity that gives them confidence to face the new challenges an ever-changing business landscape brings. “ASA’s Y.E. remains relevant and dynamic because it continues to provide a platform that brings together our industry’s emerging leaders to network and learn in an environment that is open and non-threatening,” says Worly Plumbing Supply’s Jeff Worly, the current Y. E. chairman. “In fact, over the past five years Y.E. membership has grown more than 40%.” Despite the growing interest about who will be the future of our industry along with the growing roster of Y.E. members, it’s not uncommon for wholesalers to be skeptical about joining the group. Progressive Plumbing Supply’s Jim Agnello was unsure as to the time commitment required to deliver relevant value. “I have come to appreciate what Y.E. is all about – interaction. Being part of this peer group that helps me to build careerspanning relationships with lots of great people throughout the industry is paying dividends for me.” Being a Y.E. member means being part of a nationwide, peer-to-peer industry group outside typical circles that values integrity and trust. Y.E. members are willing to talk about the issues, challenges, successes and failures with which they all contend because it helps them to prioritize what they need to focus on in their respective roles. This trust builds confidence and cultivates a rich camaraderie that serves to mature critical relationships that will span entire careers. This fraternal atmosphere expands the ability for Y.E. members to learn so much more about the industry and its many diverse parts from one another, industry pros and engaging educational speakers addressing timely topics. At the 2012 Spring Forum in New Orleans, Plumbing Distributors Inc.’s Jay Wilson gathered ideas from non-competitors about improving turns, eliminating surplus inventory and preparing to comply with low-lead legislation. Valley Supply’s Rogers Earl has since implemented better disaster recovery plans, including communications and supervisory training for key personnel. “The relationships I have made with peers involved with Y.E. have grown into some of my strongest and most valuable professional and personal friendships,” Economy Plumbing Supply’s John Strong says. “Y.E. is one of the most valuable initiatives that will help to build our next generation of managers and industry leaders.” So, how do manufacturers find a group of young executives in an organization for wholesalers to be of any direct value for them and their companies? “Working alongside our distributor partners in an effort to drive future success within our business is an important initiative,” Kohler Co.’s Garry Jordan says. Anvil’s Trent Francisconi adds, “The annual Forum is an invaluable opportunity to listen and learn from the young executives’ successes, failures and challenges, and then readily apply that information.” The insights and feedback manufacturers gain help to strengthen their respective brands. American Standard’s Chris Capone and Jeremy Cressman understand Y.E. members readily anticipate new challenges and look to new products and innovations that will meet them. “The exchange and acceptance of new concepts and different ideas related to common challenges is a key focus for Y.E. members that help them to expand and strengthen their business acumen,” Capone says. “Blending discussions about best practices and integration of today’s technology increases a wholesaler’s ability to meet the challenging and ever-changing business environment.” Cressman adds: “This helps me understand how our brand can help to differentiate our customers’ businesses profitably. When I’m with ASA’s Young Execs, I learn how our business systems and products can impact the project teams, cultures and unique marketplaces for our many customers.” InSinkErator’s Rebecca Falish, Basco’s Don Gamble and White Wolf Group’s Zach Hudgins all agree Y.E. is made up of individuals who are genuinely passionate about their businesses and futures. “Y.E. members are engaged, driven and focused on making certain their companies operate with best practices that are rooted in a broad spectrum of experiences.” The same reasons for joining Y.E. hold true for independent manufacturers representatives such as P-M & Associates’ Michael Henderson. “Networking with distributors and manufacturers from across the country and learning from them about how the supply-chain business works helps me understand how I can manage my business to be a better partner with the distributors in my market and manufacturers I represent.” For Dellon Sales’ Spencer Bodner, the camaraderie among group members is second-to-none. “Y.E. has introduced me to so many friends throughout our industry that I know I can always call on even though I won’t see them every day,” he says. “It’s worth noting that for many years AIM/R members have been eligible to join ASA’s Young Executives Division.” Today, the demands of modern communication technology, which requires more time in front of a computer to answer emails, create spreadsheets and manage reports, has made it more difficult to cultivate the personal relationships that today’s industry veterans have effectively used to grow their businesses. ASA’s Young Executives helps the next generation of principals and CEOs for our industry sustain this valuable and necessary tradition. Perhaps Texas Plumbing Supply’s Ethan Flowers, Bradford White’s Brad Taylor and Bradley Corp.’s Chris Mullet, relatively new Y.E. members, should close with these thoughts: “By bringing together those who represent the future for various segments of the supply chain to understand process and product demands through mutually beneficial networking and educational opportunities, all channel partners will grow in their knowledge of one another’s perspectives. This environment helps us to solidify our place in the industry and ensure it has the greatest chance for success and growth in the future.”
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