ASA Networking Councils Engage the Industry ASA offers regular networking events for CFOs, CEOs, Showroom Managers, Trainers, and Warehouse and Operations personnel. ASA‘s cornerstone is to focus on providing tools that give members the ability to grow and prosper. Historically, the association has been very successful in providing opportunities for upper-level management, owners and upcoming leaders in the industry. ASA also realizes that a company’s strength lies within its core. How do the individuals who are integral to your day-to-day operations network and gain information to help your company succeed? Great question. ASA’s challenge is how to bring networking and educational opportunities to ALL departments within a member’s business. The answer is through ASA’s networking councils. ASA’s networking councils were developed a few years ago with the idea that all areas within a company have challenges and issues that can be addressed by networking with industry peers.The concept was quite simple: put employees in touch with others from around the country in the same job function who experience the same challenges and successes. The result allows employees to create a peer network to use as a resource. Networking councils were formed according to the following responsibilities within a company: CEOs, CFOs, showroom managers, trainers, and warehouse and operations professionals. Why are ASA’s networking councils important? They are peer-run and peer-driven from volunteer members in not only the wholesale-distribution classification, but also the manufacturing sector. The bottom line is the councils help the member and its bottom line. Allowing individuals to keep in touch with peers to assist in making daily operations successful and profitable is a win-win situation for any company. Knowing each department requires a different set of tools to complete its goals and explore ways to help prosper, each networking council is designed to bring individuals together in numerous ways to achieve growth. From in person seminars and events which showcase experts on specific topics to webinars focused on quick deliverables to roundtable discussions on the same, each networking council provides many opportunities to thrive. Which council is right for your core employees? CFO’s are responsible for maintaining the financial health of an organization as well as for managing people, systems and technology infrastructure. The CFO Networking Council conducts in-person meetings twice a year so that colleagues can sit down with each other and discuss mutual challenges as well as learn how others are dealing with similar situations. Those who attended the most recent CFO Networking Council event held in Chicago in April spent the majority of an afternoon discussing business metrics and internal controls. Steven Lewis, CFO with Puget Pipe and Sound in Seattle, was among the group of attendees. Lewis said, “I thought the meeting in Chicago was excellent. It will more than pay for itself just because of the tax credit for propane use I learned about.” Showroom managers face many challenges.One of the biggest is how to use the most effective means of advertising (i.e., online, social media, print, etc.) to maximize profits and combat the never-ending cycle of “showrooming.” A webinar was held late last year covering showroom advertising, specifically on how to provide solid tools and takeaways to rejuvenate a showroom advertising campaign. During KBIS this year in Las Vegas, the Showroom Managers Networking Council showcased a panel of industry experts to discuss the topic of “showrooming” and how to deal with the issue head on.“Showrooming is an issue that isn’t going to go away.Hearing firsthand from a panel of industry experts on their views provided different ways to look at and tackle the challenge,” said Kim Cavanaugh, showroom manger at Moore Supply Co. In Stafford, Texas. The high-level industry leaders represented on the panel included: Kate Bailey, national showroom manager for Ferguson Enterprises; Michael E. Werner, president and CEO of Globe Union Group; Veronica Money, showroom manager for Welker-McKee, a Division of Hajoca; and Sal Cianciolo, business development manager at Kallista, a Kohler Co. These industry leaders brought a different perspective on methods embracing or stopping the “showrooming” phenomenon – leaving event attendees the ability to apply these methods to their own showrooms. When it comes to employee training, many companies do not have a dedicated “trainer” on staff. Instead, they rely on others within the company to implement a training program. Sometimes those individuals have many crossover roles, including addressing HR issues such as recruitment, hiring and retention of employees.The Trainers Networking Council is designed for the multi-tasked employee who needs to stay up-to date on these issues and also on educational needs. “Training is very important to the success and health of a company, whether you provide an educational course to your employees or ‘train the trainer’ on best practices.It’s important to have a place to find this information and peer support. ASA hits the nail on the head in providing an all-encompassing forum,” said Dwight Newton, corporate employee development at Zoeller Co. Brand-new and launched just this year is ASA’s CEO Growth Forum, designed exclusively for presidents and principals of wholesaler-distributors. Forum participants meet in small groups with their counterparts from noncompeting firms to immerse themselves in discussions on building passionate customers, growing revenues and implementing a culture of success within their firms. The CEO Growth Forum includes two one-day forum sessions, two quarterly video conferences and on-demand access to the forum’s facilitator, Alex Goldfayn of the Evangelist Marketing Institute. Although the CEO Growth Forum is in its infancy, there is no all-inclusive program like it in the industry. ASA looks to see the program exponentially grow in the coming months. For more information on ASA’s Networking Councils, including finding out more about the newly-revitalized Warehouse and Operations Council and to see what is planned for each group for the remainder of 2014, please visit www.asa.net/Networking or contact Ruth Mitchell for more details at email@example.com or 630/467-0000, ext. 210. Dirk Beveridge’s presentation, “Driving Distributor Sales Beyond Best Practices for Outselling Your Competition,” will be a featured educational presentation at NetworkASA 2014 at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, Sept. 9-11. Visit www.asa.net/Networking for full program details and registration materials. Beveridge has worked with hundreds of business owners and CEOs with a common need – to align sales performance with corporate strategies. At NetworkASA 2014, he will outline the researched best practices of a holistic model for integrating a company’s guiding ideas (vision, mission, values and purpose) with defined sales management and sales process systems. Are You Trapped In A World of Sameness? By Dirk Beveridge At Pulse2014, IBM’s cloud conference in Las Vegas in late February 2014, Lance Crosby, CEO of SoftLayer, IBM’s cloud company, said of its cloud strategy, “IBM will have a followme portfolio, not a me-too portfolio. IBM is not a ‘me-too’ company.” Great thinking — not only for SoftLayer, but for wholesaler-distributors as well. Many distributors, however, could be labeled in opposite terms — as having a “me-too” portfolio.Being a me-too company means that one distributor offers kitting and others say “me, too.” Another offers next-day delivery and others say “me, too.” The challenge is that when everybody says and does the same thing, nobody listens. And maybe more importantly, nobody is prepared to pay what we believe we are worth. One CEO used the example of FedEx and UPS: “Why does Fedex get $2 more overnight than UPS? Because it has created this perception that it is guaranteed right. Well, in our business, as hard as we work on our people and our product and all that stuff, we can never seem to get to the point where the customer sees us as being different and that we are worth more.” Interestingly, Xerox found itself in a similar situation in 2012. Jeannine Rossignol, vice president of marketing communications for U.S. client operations, led an effort to review the messaging of the division’s competitors. And what they found when they displayed the value propositions of all the companies in the space side by side was that they all looked exactly alike. In fact, the team found that if you removed the names and logos, you couldn’t tell them apart. If most distributors were to do the same, I suspect they would come to the same conclusion as Ms. Rossignol. Here is a Great Exercise Collect your competitors’ capability brochures and line cards. Print out the “about” pages and the “capabilities,” “solutions” or similar pages from your competitors’ websites. Line your conference room wall with each of these and compare them to yours. Honestly assess whether or not you could tell them apart if you removed the names and logos. In a world of commoditization, The Innovative Distributor™ is perpetually working to understand the articulated and unarticulated needs of the customers and markets they serve. The voice of the customer is paramount in all they do as they work to enhance the customer’s experience in differentiated and meaningful ways. At NetworkASA, we’ll explore how important value propositions are to the innovation process. Vick to Receive IPD’s Award of Excellence The Executive Council of the American Supply Association’s Industrial Piping Division has announced that Robert Vick, vice president of business development for Rancho Dominguez, Calif.-based Industrial Valco, has been selected to receive the IPD ‘s Award of Excellence. The award will be presented to Mr. Vick during the Weldbend IPD Breakfast on Wednesday morning, Sept. 10 at NetworkASA 2014 at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Mr. Vick is well-known and respected by his colleagues and customers as an honorable and dedicated professional who never stops giving to the industrial PVF industry. Having fulfilled numerous roles with different industry organizations, he is consistently among the first to volunteer his time and energy. Most recently, as chairman of ASA’s Vendor Member Division and a member of ASA’s Board of Directors for multiple terms, Mr. Vick exemplified leadership qualities that profoundly influenced decisions and actions that have propelled a tremendous resurgence of relevance that ASA and IPD enjoy today. He is a tireless champion for our industry’s proud legacy. Upon the decision to select Mr. Vick as the recipient of the IPD Award of Excellence, Jay Bazemore, chairman of the IPD and vice president of JABO Supply Corp., stated: “Robert Vick continues to demonstrate the ultimate in leadership and dedication to the industry that is required of a recipient of the IPD Award of Excellence. His willingness to share so much of his knowledge and expertise coupled with his influence within our industry has helped ASA’s Industrial Piping Division continue to grow and flourish as it does today.” The inaugural award was presented to Tim Arenberg of Columbia Pipe & Supply Co., in 2008, Gary Cartright of Piping & Equipment, Inc., in 2009, Dr. Donald R. McNeeley of Chicago Tube and Iron Co., in 2010, Morris R. Beschloss in 2011, John E. Martin of Anvil International in 2012 and Patrick M. Adams of MKS Pipe & Valve Co., in 2013. A Legacy of Leadership and Collaboration It takes vision, innovation and leadership to adapt and improve in an ever-changing marketplace. Now in its 110th year, NIBCO INC. not only has survived, but thrived in the flow-control industry by continuously investing in its people, processes and products. This success would not have been possible without the collaborative efforts of industry partners such as the American Supply Association and its wholesaler- distributor members. When strategic vision combines with strong leadership, change is inevitable. In late 2013, Ashley Martin, director of distribution and transportation at NIBCO, and Katie Poehling, who works in sales at First Supply, joined forces and approached ASA with an idea to form a Women in Industry division.Their vision was to provide networking, mentoring and educational opportunities to retain and attract women leaders in this industry. With ASA’s support and promotional efforts, the dream quickly became reality in April 2014. The industry overwhelmingly responded with 80 women professionals attending the inaugural annual conference in Chicago. The company also has adopted a leadership role in recent industry efforts to reduce lead in drinking water. Its line of lead-free valves and fittings meet or exceed national standards that took effect in 2014. NIBCO leaders also collaborated with industry peers, including ASA, and formed the “Get The Lead Out Plumbing Consortium” to educate and inform the industry as well as the general public about lead-free plumbing products. The consortium successfully educated more than 4,000 people who participated in online training courses or attended one of 57 regional presentations. With such heritage and working with our industry partners, NIBCO is well-positioned to forge ahead with its commitment to serve its customers with excellence and help them succeed today and for decades to come.
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