ASA Advances Ability To Lead Through Coalitions by Michael Adelizzi, Executive Vice President AS THE ONLY national industry association, the American Supply Association is in a unique position to drive change that benefits the entire industry. Since ASA has opened a full-time satellite office in Washington D.C, the association has been building coalitions that help leverage our ability to succeed in critical areas such as protecting LIFO, securing marketplace fairness, promoting America’s energy independence and protecting our industry’s small businesses through comprehensive tax reform. An important coalition we’ve worked hard to build upon the past five years has been our expanding partnership with the industry’s buying groups. When ASA established its Long Range Strategic Plan seven years ago, an important component of that plan was to build strong ties with the industry’s viable buying groups. Today, ASA has strong active relationships with Embassy, WIT, Affiliated Distributors, Omni and Equity. The leadership of the buying groups has opened their meetings enabling ASA the opportunity to educate buying-group members on the value of ASA. In addition to exposing buying-group members on the value of partnering with the association, buying-group staff members play a role in ASA committees and the association’s divisional structure, ensuring our organizations are aligned and moving together in the same direction. ADVOCACY GAINING MOMENTUM One of ASAs greatest strengths as an association is its industry leadership role in Washington, D.C. For the past five years, ASA’s full-time presence in our nation’s capital has created the opportunity to provide input (a seat at the table) when debate on issues is beginning and a voice when legislation is presented. Our voice has been a leading one on issues of importance such as protecting LIFO and advancing a level playing field as it pertains to the Internet sales tax debate. But any national trade association is only as effective as the players in the industry are engaged. So it’s been our strategy to partner with the industry’s buying groups and all their members to conduct meetings in Washington and allow ASA to facilitate meetings with members of Congress resulting in a total engagement of the industry in ASA’s advocacy process.Hundreds of companies and thousands of people backing ASA’s efforts will make a powerful voice. We are pleased that later this fall WIT will conduct its shareholders meeting in Washington and partner with ASA for visits with elected leaders, thus becoming the first group to follow ASA’s lead. Following WIT will be AD, which travels to Washington in the spring of 2016 and Embassy in the fall of 2017 — all working with ASA to create a powerful and unrelenting voice for the industry. Imagine the impact as hundreds of industry businesses, members of ASA as well as non-members every year working together to protect the interests of the industry through ASA’s leadership forming a relentless assault in support of the issues affecting our industry. Roughly seven years ago ASA saw buying groups as a competitor. Today, we have become partners for ensuring our future — a huge sea of change. Advocacy is not the only area where building coalitions with buying groups is providing results. Buying groups have started to partner with ASA to collect business intelligence to provide a more defined vision of economic and business trends for firms to better navigate turbulent and uncertain times. The annual Operating Performance Report is one such success where ASA members and several buying groups have joined to collect data that is creating improved reporting and value to the industry While the relationship between the buying groups and ASA has strengthened over the past few years, we still have a ways to go before all the members in every buying group see value in partnering with ASA by joining the association to advance their ability and the interests of a strong unified industry. Radically Reimagine Your Supply Organization for Return on Impact by David Nour, CEO – The Nour Group TODAY, EVERY BUSINESS LEADER in the supply industry faces a challenge: You must manage the present while you invest in the future. To prepare for the future, you must fundamentally reimagine your organizational strategy from your value creation model to your talent acquisition and development to your customer engagement. As you undertake this radical rethink, it is crucial to look outside the supply industry. Consider companies that have struggled: Polaroid. Borders. Blockbuster. Kodak.JC Penney. Blackberry. What do these companies have in common? Not that they failed to see industry trends; they failed to act on those trends with agility. How will you become agile? Today the world’s largest taxi company, Uber, owns no vehicles. The most popular media owner, Facebook, creates no content. The most valuable retailer, Alibaba, owns no inventory. The largest accommodation provider, Airbnb, owns no real estate. Given that context, how are you preparing to think differently about your business? Is the day coming when Kohler owns no faucets? Given that your industry is all about buildings and the infrastructure that goes into them, I hope you’ve been paying attention to the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT). The combination of technology and connectivity is driving dramatic improvements in product function and performance. Your customers are starting to expect elegant systems that enhance their experiences. How will you integrate these shifts into your value proposition? ADVANCE YOUR RELATIONSHIPS The theme of Network 2015 is “Network: Advance Your Relationships.” I submit that relationships are your greatest off-balancesheet asset. Every customer is now capable of being a brand evangelist who will help you attract more customers, but only if they encounter exceptional experiences at every turn. Customers no longer need to be sold. By the time they make their first contact with you, they already know 80% of the information required to make a purchase. Today, your brochures matter less than the stories your brand creates because stories spread value. These stories could be content experiences or conversations. The message channel could be paid, owned, earned or shared. The value in those stories transcends any individual brand to elevate your entire industry. Return on Impact is fundamentally about building digital relationships that go beyond transactions. A new stance is required: Proactive, predictive, intuitive, visionary. Examples: Use Twitter for technical support. Put installation tutorials on your YouTube channel. Use sentiment analysis to determine the attitude of key stakeholders and customers so you can lead the market, not follow. At Network 2015 I’ll talk about 10 ideas from my book, “Return on Impact.” I’ll share my ‘IMPACT” model to help you understand how to use social channels to drive growth. You’ll leave radically better-prepared to reimagine your supply organization for a return on impact. Strategic Relationships Grow With ASA NO MATTER WHAT line of business you’re in, we’ve all heard the saying, “It’s not WHAT you know; it’s WHO you know.” Every successful business, including A. O. Smith, has benefited from two people forging a meaningful connection at precisely the right moment. In fact, that’s exactly what happened at the turn of the 20th century when Arthur O. Smith met legendary carmaker Henry Ford. In 1906, Ford asked Smith to build 10,000 steel auto frames in just four months, to which Smith replied, “That’s what we’re here for.” Mind you, at the time the Smith Company was accustomed to producing only 10 frames per day. Undeterred, the savvy businessman and his talented team retooled the entire operation and before long the Smith Company was manufacturing 100 frames per day. Four months later, Ford Motor Company received its 10,000 frames. Companies have the opportunity to thrive when strategic relationships are effectively cultivated. Today, the A. O. Smith Corporation is one of the leading water heater manufacturers in the world — a long way from its automotive beginnings. But the company has remained true to the idea that building solid business relationships and delivering on its commitments to customers and partners is a recipe for success. 21ST CENTURY CONNECTIONS And where does a business go to build these connections in the PHCP-PVF supply chain in the 21st century? The American Supply Association. The American Supply Association is the relationship engine of our industry. A. O. Smith is proud to be an ASA Platinum Partner because this organization facilitates meaningful interactions that help its members succeed. OPPORTUNITIES TO CONNECT Whether attending ASA’s annual Network convention, networking councils or one of the association’s premier training seminars, manufacturers are afforded the best opportunities to connect with industry decision-makers and build relationships that foster growth. For A. O. Smith, ASA events provide our team valuable opportunities to listen, analyze and respond to the concerns and opinions of our industry partners. When we invest time in developing new relationships and strengthening existing partnerships with our customers, A. O. Smith is better positioned to effectively address industry challenges and seize opportunities. While top-notch networking events with our customers in the supply chain held multiple times throughout the year are certainly the biggest advantage, there are a multitude of other ways A. O. Smith benefits from being a sponsor and active participant in ASA. EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES The ever-growing cache of resources offered by ASA University has resulted in a comprehensive curriculum that addresses a wide variety of subject matter, including product knowledge, industry vocabulary and workplace safety. These educational resources are designed to complement business plans and explore the many facets of the industry, ultimately resulting in well-trained, fundamentally developed industry employees. PROPER TRAINING Proper training is key to enhancing an employee’s ability to bolster customer relationships. And by way of ASA University, industry professionals are prepped to possess a greater knowledge of wholesale distribution and are equipped with the tools needed to drive performance through customer partnerships. To put it plainly, a positive customer experience with our supply-chain partner equates to a positive customer experience with A. O. Smith. Another important point: ASA remains the only national organization creating strategic partnerships between leading wholesalers and distributors with the explicit goal of strengthening the industry’s foundation. Our industry is comprised of hundreds of moving parts and its success relies heavily on the development of a concise communication strategy that is comprehensive among all audiences. ASA works diligently to advance information and training down a long supply chain of individuals to ensure each employee, from manufacturer to contractor, is working succinctly towards our unified goals. ASA Joins Effort to Restore your First Amendment Rights DID YOU KNOW that trade associations such as ASA are the only entities that are required to obtain written permission from its membership to talk to them about political contributions? Like virtually every trade association in America, we believe this effort wastes our time and yours. Furthermore, members of trade associations like you have a constitutional right to join together in support of or in opposition to candidates for political office. The prior approval requirement discourages members from participating in their association’s PAC and creates an unequal playing field for trade-association PACs that constrains their members’ First Amendment rights to free speech. Political action committees or PACs play an important role in the campaign process. PAC’s support political campaigns, campaigns that produce officials who are responsible for making decisions that impact our businesses each day. Our industry needs a PAC to help elect those officials who share our views, and are supportive of small-to-mediumsized, multigenerational businesses such as yours and have an understanding of the issues that are important to us. ASA dues do not support ASA PAC. ASA PAC receives voluntary contributions from dedicated individuals each year. For them, doing so is an essential responsibility as an industry citizen. It is a show of support for a mature industry that helped build our country with more than 3,600 companies that provide a livelihood for more than 80,000 professionals, employees and their families. While we’re hopeful that our efforts and those of the Prior Approval Reform Coalition (PARC) are successful, we still need your help. Please be on the lookout for information and outreach from ASA staff as we work to obtain your prior approval and consider joining us as we advocate for what’s important to you, your company and your employees.
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