Mike Miazga 2013-08-08 04:57:20
Educate yourself I must admit I am big into nostalgia, especially when it comes to sports. I have a particular fascination with old sports team logos and uniforms. A good friend of mine in Michigan always sends me articles on the latest team to debut a “throwback” jersey or hat. I’m also a sucker for television shows from the ‘70s and ‘80s, but must admit I sure wish we had shows like current hits “Breaking Bad,” “Burn Notice” or “Sons of Anarchy” back when I was in high school. Rekindling old memories is certainly fun. However, I’m a big believer in embracing change and there certainly is a lot of that going on in our industry right now. Where to start? If you haven’t already done so, check out Hank Darlington’s feature on page 26 on a San Diego-based distributor who is rolling out a showroom business model that will catch plenty of people’s attention. Hank visited one of the company’s showrooms and left with his jaw nearly touching the floor. Columnist Dick Friedman wrote about another eye-opening subject: the emergence of Google in the e-commerce game (see page 93). Dick does a great job explaining the Google Shopping for Suppliers setup and the potential impact it could have on our industry. Change is coming as well in the form of the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act early next year and in 2015 the Department of Energy’s legislation takes effect mandating higher energy-efficiency standards for certain heating appliances. Another front-burner topic is the Affordable Care Act. I sat in on National Association of Wholesaler- Distributors Vice President-Government Relations Jim Anderson’s seminar on this subject at the recent 2013 SWA Convention on Hilton Head Island, S.C. Anderson’s main piece of advice for businesses is to be properly prepared for the implementation of this law.“Plan accordingly,” is his succinct suggestion. In the span of less than an hour, Anderson provided a mind-numbing amount of information related to the Affordable Care Act that will have a direct effect on businesses like the one you may own or work for. While recent developments have pushed back the employer Mandate (requiring employers with 50 or more employees to show proof of offering them and their dependents minimum essential coverage) to 2015, that doesn’t mean the Affordable Care Act is going anywhere. I had a hard time mentally digesting the information Anderson presented from his brief talk simply because of the volume of material and various intricacies presented.Anderson noted the legislation is so complicated that folks in Washington are having a hard time with it. Take Anderson’s two words of advice on this: plan accordingly and educate yourself on the nuances of the Affordable Care Act. As Anderson suggests, get with your company’s financial and insurance gurus and make sure you are prepared. The fine for employers who do not offer coverage under the new legislation is nothing to sneeze at. One of the greatest things about this ever-changing industry is the vast amount of education opportunities available to us. For example, the American Supply Association has made tremendous inroads with its skyrocketing ASA University platform. Earlier this year, the National Kitchen & Bath Association launched its Learning Paths Program that encompasses not only the fundamentals of kitchen and bath design, but also career skills in seven other areas of professional competency. NKBA Director of Learning Nancy Barnes developed the program with the thought of focusing on a range of career skills rather than a single course at a time. The other neat thing about change is you can make your voice heard. There are a number of different issues swirling around Capitol Hill these days that will have an impact on the wholesale distribution business. I had the opportunity several years ago to tag along with plumbing and mechanical contractors as they visited with their elected officials in Washington. It was one of the most fascinating experiences of my career. Those politicians listened and received quite an education on topics that struck a chord with contractors. Those attending NetworkASA 2013 in early October in Washington will have the opportunity to get in front of their elected officials and discuss issues of great importance to wholesalers and small-business owners. If you’re an ASA member, this is a can’t-miss event. All the education and advocacy opportunities now available have made wrapping our arms around change that much easier. Are you taking advantage of all that’s out there?
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