Washington Goes Small in the Accomplishment Category THIS SPRING, Congress passed legislation improving building energy efficiency. This was a bipartisan effort to spur the building and energy community, but what did it do in reality? It directed the General Services Administration or GSA (the landlord of federal buildings) to improve its building efficiency. First, develop and publish model leasing provisions to encourage building owners and tenants to use greater cost effective energy efficiency and water efficiency measures in commercial buildings, and second, develop policies and practices to implement the measures for the realty services provided by the GSA to agencies. The bill also amended the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007; to require the Department of Energy to study the feasibility of improving energy efficiency in commercial buildings through the design and construction of spaces with high-performance energy efficiency measures. In addition, it directed the EPA to develop the Tenant Star Energy Program to recognize tenants in commercial buildings that voluntarily achieve high levels of energy efficiency. None of this is without merit, but it may not be the thawing of the ice we’re hoping for. Then there’s trade. A politically sensitive issue for both parties, which often aligns many of the far right with the far left; requiring those in the middle to join forces to get trade agreements pushed through. At press time, the president’s party had abandoned his quest to get a massive multilateral trade agreement with a dozen Asian nations through Congress. But, with negotiations ongoing, it is not an issue that is likely to die well on the floor of the Senate. E-FAIRNESS GAINS NEW CHAMPION For years, the Marketplace Fairness Act remained in similar, uncomplicated form: providing states with the proper authority and mechanisms to allow states and local governments, if they so choose, to enforce existing state and local sales and use tax laws if they simplify sales and use tax administration, exempting small online merchants from collection requirements. In the ways of Washington, this bill really couldn’t be any simpler. Just 12 pages in length, it’s managed to pass the Senate twice and has gained new supporters from both sides of the aisle in 2015. Where it’s consistently run into trouble, however, is in the House of Representatives. Emboldened by the largest majority since the Truman era, House Republicans, largely conservative in nature, have been resistant to advancing this issue. They fear that they’ll be accused of raising taxes. All of this even though brickand- mortar sellers in their district remain one of the largest contributors to the taxes that pave, plow and maintain the roads in their district, among hundreds of other expenditures that local tax revenue is used for. The opposition, although constructive, has been led by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, where the bill currently sits. Chairman Goodlatte supports an approach that uses “origin” sourcing, meaning that a buyer in New Hampshire (where no sales tax exists) buying a product from a website in California will have to pay California’s tax rate. Not only is it an increase for any state that has a lower rate, but as described, in the case of New Hampshire and any other state lacking a sales tax, it is an actual tax hike. Those of us in the Marketplace Fairness Coalition remain concerned and frankly unsupportive of an origin-based approach. We support an approach that would set the tax rate at where the buyer originates, i.e. where the item is destined to be shipped to, “destination sourcing.” Enter Congressman Jason Chaffetz, a Utah conservative, member of the House Judiciary Committee and chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Chairman Chaffetz has been working on his version that the coalition has supported for a variety of reasons. To begin, it alleviates small businesses with the worry that they’d be liable for sales tax audits from the 50 states. They would not. The software providers (certified under this legislation) would be responsible for getting it right. With the presidential elections gearing up, we expect minimal legislative accomplishments coming out much later than this fall. It is imperative that Congress pass this bill this summer, or at the end of the fiscal year, coincidentally when the moratorium on Internet use taxation expires as well. The perfect vehicle for sales tax fairness legislation to ride along on. Communicating in a Crisis by Anthony Huey, President – Reputation Management Associates THE CRISIS YOU NEVER EXPECTED suddenly strikes. Five hungry reporters are outside your door, demanding answers. Another dozen have phoned in the past 15 minutes wanting to know what happened and why? How will your organization react, and who will do what? That, in a nutshell, is the problem facing many companies and organizations every day. You need only scan daily news reports to realize that your crisis could be just around the corner. CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS PLAN During my years in reputation management counseling and as a journalist, I discovered that few organizations have a formal crisis communications plan. That can be very dangerous. In most cases, the perception of your company or organization is established in the first few hours after a crisis. Usually the news media sets that perception. Do you know exactly how your organization and its executives will react once a crisis occurs? Here is what I have discovered in working with management teams that have just experienced an unforeseen crisis or who know a crisis is about to occur: Top management invariably say it is the public relations person’s problem. Worse yet, the organization may have no P.R. person or staff to rely on or blame. The company may have a “crisis plan” but it turns out to be two pages with phone numbers of people to be notified. Management decides that it is “an internal problem” and endorses the stonewalling philosophy. The official policy is “no comment.” All of these positions are weak and will leave you vulnerable. Every company or organization should have a detailed crisis communications plan that will explain in orderly fashion just what is expected of the executive staff. This plan gives exact detail On what each management person is to do in the first hour, the first day, the first week following the crisis situation, and finally, what the follow-up will be. Because it is a step-by step process, a good communications plan is normally about an inch thick and will delve into what may seem like the most trivial of details. There is no question that the greatest weakness in crisis management planning is the failure to decide beforehand what you will do and who will do it once the crisis occurs. PERCEPTION IS TRUTH My crisis communications plans concentrate on the news media because I believe in a very simple philosophy: Perception is truth and the media creates the perception following a crisis. For those who would even think of implementing a “no comment” philosophy with the media, I offer this fact: The trade journal, P.R. News, cites a survey that says 65% of the public takes “no comment” as an admission of guilt. The most important communications strategy in a crisis, particularly in the first few hours, is to be open with the public by being available to the news media. The need for every company or organization to have a thorough crisis communications plan is summed up nicely in my favorite saying from an unknown source: “By the time you hear the thunder, it’s too late to build the ark! Rise Up & Conquer the Challenge EVERY PERSON IN AMERICA has some sort of connection with a military veteran or an active duty serviceman or servicewoman, whether it be a relative, co-worker or friend. Some of those who have served have come away with serious injuries while defending our country. Operation Rise & Conquer gives those who have been injured while fighting to defend our freedom, a chance to get back up and get over some of those physical and even mental hurdles they have endured. ORC gives these veterans an opportunity to go on a week-long adventure in Crested Butte, Colo. Working with the Adaptive Sports Center, participants have access to the finest equipment that allows even those with serious injuries to participate in outdoor activities such as rock climbing, mountain biking, kayaking, snow skiing, and much more. Representing American-based wholesalers and manufacturers, the American Supply Association, spearheaded by the Young Executives Division, has taken on the challenge to raise $100,000 in 2015. In 2014, ASA’s YE’s were able to raise nearly $30,000 at the Spring Forum alone. That was a great Start and ASA’s members are confident that they can accomplish this 2015 goal. LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT WEEK In addition to raising funds at ASA events including the Spring Forum and Network2015, ASA has worked with the Adaptive Sports Center to host a Leadership Development Week, July 20-24. Participants will have a chance to tour the facilities and will also take on some of the challenges that these veterans will face, including blindfolded rock climbing, tying one arm behind the back and hand cycling to simulate what it’s like to do these already difficult activities that are even more difficult with a disability. Volunteer opportunities are also available year-round for those interested in assisting veterans in these activities. Contact Bill Erfort, ASA member services manager for full Leadership Development Week cost and sponsorship details at firstname.lastname@example.org and 630/467-0000, ext. 212. 2015 EVENTS Already in 2015, ASA members have been taking this initiative head on. Bradley Corporation, in Menomonee Falls, Wis., has pledged to donate a portion of its summer sales to this campaign. Bradley will track sales to ASA members during June, July and August and contribute 0.5% of every dollar up to $75,000 to ORC. VAMAC, in Richmond, Va., hosted a cycling fundraiser on May 2, that enjoyed great success as well.34 cyclists, including ORC’s Mike Frazier (USMC Ret.), using an adapted hand cycle after being injured in the service, along with other veterans, rode in the fundraiser. The event raised enough money to send the equivalent of nearly three soldiers to ORC. WHAT’S YOUR CONTRIBUTION What are you doing to contribute to Operation Rise & Conquer? Visit www.asa.net/ORC to make a contribution and see what other companies are doing to help fund this program ASA on the Road for Annual Member Blitz TEN OF THE American Supply Association’s 14 staff members recently divided into four teams for its fourth-annual member and prospect blitz. The teams visited 50 companies, including members and new member prospects throughout California, northern Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington. Each team met with the leadership of each wholesaler and manufacturer company for an in-depth conversation about the benefits that ASA offers and to help them understand how to best leverage the association’s programs and services. Since the inception of the blitz campaign four years ago, ASA staff has personally visited 275 companies, bringing ASA to the doorstep of current and potential member companies in 44 states Industry Volunteers Examine the Future of Training & Education IN APRIL, the ASA Education Foundation Board of Trustees met in Chicago to continue its work to develop and deliver quality training programs to advance the ability of member employees. These volunteers, comprised of distributors, manufacturers, an independent manufacturers rep, and a buying group representative, are committed to providing the content and support necessary to respond directly to ASA members’ employee development needs. Future projects on the horizon include the expansion of ASA University with new product courses, succession planning resources, advanced learning technologies, and a one-stop-shop education portal for members. Recent accomplishments include the new Master of Distribution Management certification program, industrial steam system training, updated product courses, turnkey role-based training solutions and the ASA-U Advisory Service. Building Bridges, Advancing Our Future by Michael Adelizzi, Executive Vice President ADVANCING THE INTERESTS of our members and industry has been a driving force for the American Supply Association, our staff and volunteer leaders. Protecting our interests in Washington, D.C., is one area that has compelled the association to build bridges with industry organizations whose interests are aligned with ASA; and it’s through these developing partnerships where ASA can be most effective. Take lobbying Congress for instance. ASA represents more than 500 industry firms and a majority of their branch locations throughout the country. In order to stop harmful or pass favorable legislation that would have an impact on our membership, it takes a consortium of all interests within the industry to be most effective. Members of ASA and non-ASA affiliated firms working together to protect the interests of the industry can be a very effective force for change. AIM/R One industry association that ASA has built bridges to advance our interest has been with the Association of Independent Manufacturers’ Representatives (AIM/R). When officers from both national associations met in February of 2013 they discussed ways for the two organizations to work more in alignment to advance industry interests. They envisioned both organizations working together to best deliver training programs to industry member employees, lobby for sound legislation and regulation, and to recruit the next generation of our industry’s labor force. Barriers toward working together, such as rep firms required to join both ASA regional groups and the national association, were removed allowing rep firms to gain ASA membership simply by joining an ASA regional affiliate. “I have Enjoyed my time serving on both the ASA Education Foundation Board of Trustees and more recently the ASA Board of Directors,” said Brian Burke of Burke Agency, current Chairman of AIM/R. “As a direct result of this renewed alliance between AIM/R and ASA, our association will once again be an active participant at NETWORK2015.” For the first time since 2007, AIM/R will sponsor a seminar in Chicago (enhancing the wholesaler-rep working relationship) and will hold its popular AIM/R Principals Reception. “We are very excited to be back,” Burke added. Today, ASA has more than 100 manufacturers representatives as members of the national association; a tenfold increase from two years ago. As a result, they are getting behind ASA’s advocacy efforts and engaging distributors in ASA programs. In return, they have access to training, benchmarking and an emerging recruitment campaign. “One of the challenges we face as an industry is that we are very fragmented. We consist of thousands of small family businesses, therefore our voice and efforts are relatively unnoticed. AIM/R and ASA have taken the steps to start working more closely so our industry as a whole will benefit. One of our biggest concerns is the average age of the professional plumber is now 58. By 2020 we will be facing a shortage of 165,000 plumbers. The plumber protects the health of our nation, so while this is a concern it’s also a great opportunity for many. It’s in our best interest to spread the word, work together and do what we can to fi ll the pipeline of our next generation of professional plumbers,” said Stew Chaffee, president, Rich-Tomkins Co., and president-elect of AIM/R Making the Best of Your Industry Partnerships BEING AN INDUSTRY PARTNER to organizations such as the American Supply Association comes with a tremendous level of responsibility. If you are going to invest your money into an organization, it is equally as critical that you invest your time and intellectual capital to ensure the continued success of your company, the organization and its membership. These partnerships are really business alliances that can have a tremendously positive impact when partners and organizations work, learn and grow together to capitalize on industry opportunities or address industry challenges INDUSTRY CHALLENGES In reality, most of the challenges facing membership organizations today are shared by their business partners and vise versa. In the case of ASA and Bradford White, sometimes these are short- to mid-term Challenges such as helping business partners and customers understand the new 2015 water heater efficiency standards brought about by the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA). Working together, Bradford White was able to assist ASA in preparing for this important industry transition by listening to its members and putting together communications that would address the association’s needs as well as the needs of its wholesale customers. WORKFORCE DECLINE Another clear-cut example as to where an industry phenomenon will have a similar impact on ASA, Bradford White and a long list of other wholesale-only industry players is the current decline in people entering the HVAC and plumbing trades. According to U.S. Census data recently shared by the national office of the Plumbing - Heating - Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC), there will be a need for 21% more plumbing and 21% HVACR technicians by 2022, in addition to replacing workers who retire. When you think about the implications of this data to the wholesale industry and wholesale committed manufacturers such as Bradford White, the effects could be devastating if not addressed. The good news is that the strength of organizations such as ASA and the commitment it has from its industry partners, can help turn these significant challenges into great opportunities. In the cases of NAECA readiness and the need to increase the strength of the HVAC and plumbing workforce, both require equal and concentrated association/partnership contributions to arrive at the most favorable position possible for all parties involved.ASA understands this notion well, and by insisting that its industry partners are “involved” partners, it gets positive results and makes us all better for it. The continued growth of ASA and the ongoing additions of new corporate partners is a testament to the association’s commitment. ADVANCE YOUR ABILITY ASA promotes a value statement of “Advance Your Ability.” This statement represents a real opportunity for both ASA members and their business partners such as Bradford White Corporation. But it doesn’t just happen by signing on and writing a dues or sponsorship check – that’s easy. It’s about making the most of your corporate partnership by getting involved and investing your time and talents as well as your sponsorship dues ASA Education Foundation to Conduct National Labor Study WITH FOCUSED ATTENTION on the strategic planning as outlined at the annual Winter Planning Meeting of the American Supply Association, the ASAEF Board of Trustees approved the funding of an exciting new study. To assist the association and the industry in preparing for the future, the ASAEF will support a national Labor Needs Study which will outline the demand for labor over the next decade. It is anticipated that large segments of our industry’s labor force will retire over the next five to 10 years and the study will show what the projected demand will be by skill set, region and demographics. Armed with this information, ASA and the industry can prepare to attract the workforce necessary to remain viable and profitable. The results from the study will be introduced at the ASA Annual Meeting held at Network2015, October 27-29 in Chicago. Find out more at www.asa.net
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