Bill Erfort, Member Services Manager 2016-08-05 03:57:51
The need for members to find new talented employees continues to be at the forefront of the ASA Board of Directors’ mind. After seeing the eye-opening results of the 2015 National Labor Study, one of ASA’s most important strategic long-term objectives remains to increase the number of talented workers taking advantage of attractive career opportunities in the PHCP-PVF industry. To accomplish this long-term objective, the American Supply Association is continuing to invest resources in its national workforce recruitment program. The primary function of this program is to connect potential job seekers with ASA member companies in their area. On behalf of the PHCP-PVF industry, ASA is reaching out to high schools, community and vocational colleges, and military bases to inform them of the wide variety of careers and high growth positions that are available. In addition to sending information to schools and military about the industry, ASA also is asking for their career fair information. ASA is acting as a conduit to connect schools with local members, giving them an opportunity to promote industry awareness, as well as careers within their own companies. ASA members also need to be tackling this initiative head-on by connecting with their local communities to find opportunities to talk to current and future job seekers. With the start of the 2016-2017 school year approaching, there surely are upcoming events in your local markets that you can take advantage of. For this initiative to be successful, ASA members need to buy in and be the boots on the ground to promote the industry. ASA is making it easy for members by providing them with the ASA Career Day Kit, which contains everything one would need to conduct a successful career day, including a pop-up banner, an informational brochure, a how-to-guide to effectively host a career day and giveaways to draw job seekers to your booth. The Career Day Kit is available to members on-demand and at no charge. ASA continues to send job seekers to its Careers website, www.asa.net/careers, and to its Member Directory to find companies in their area, linking them directly to your website. Having reviewed hundreds of members’ websites for information that job placement professionals and job seekers need, ASA has found many companies do not meet the basic requirements. Your home page should have a link or button that is clearly visible and labeled indicating where a visitor needs to click for job and career information. Available positions should be clearly posted, and if none, then basic information about the kinds of positions and opportunities your company provides should be listed. Lastly, identify the point of contact responsible for hiring, which is critical for when you do not have any positions currently available, because job seekers still have the opportunity to submit their resumes for when opportunities do arise. ASA continues to lead the charge for industry workforce development, but needs its members to step up and be at the forefront of this initiative. ASA has the tools, materials and recommendations to support your efforts to recruit new talent. To learn more about ASA’s national workforce recruitment program, visit www.asa.net/careers or contact Bill Erfort, member services manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 630/467-0000, x 212. Using the ASA OPR to Drive Innovative Improvements Rather than Simply Operational Efficiency By Tom Noon, Principal, Industry Insights, Inc. For the past 34 years, the annual ASA OPR (i.e., ASA Operating Performance Report) has been an invaluable tool for providing industry benchmarks against which to gauge your own firm’s performance. While “fine-tuning” operations for greater efficiency certainly provides near-term incremental profitability advantages, eventually a lack of innovation can result in a company’s demise. Only through “innovation” are the greatest sales and profitability gains possible, as suggested by the following axioms of business: WHEN IS INNOVATION VS. SIMPLY GREATER EFFICIENCY NEEDED? Fortunately, the ASA OPR is much more than just a tool for tweaking operating “efficiency.” A good way to assess where “innovation” is needed, rather than simply implementing “efficiency” improvements, is based on how your company compares to the industry norms, as follows: COMPANY PROFITABILITY PERFORMANCE IS: • Substantially below industry norms and this situation has persisted for a long time. • Substantially above industry norms and this has consistently continued. • Declining, even while comparing favorably to industry norms. • Historically in the middle of industry norms. KEY PERFORMANCE COMPONENTS FOR INNOVATION: Expenses, Personnel, Inventory, Accounts Receivable, Sales Growth. • Innovation definitely needed. • Continued efficiency is the goal. • Innovation is probably needed. • Short-term efficiency will definitely help, but longterm innovation is needed. WHAT IS INNOVATION AND HOW TO ACHIEVE IT? Within a company, “innovation” usually involves a new way of doing something (such as new management systems, compensation plans, organizational structure, etc.), or it may mean defining new markets or supply sources. However, a key determinant for deciding what specific areas of your business can have the most dramatic impact on profits, and thus are prime candidates for innovation, comes from what has been historically learned from the ASA OPR. n particular, each year’s OPR includes a special analysis that compares the performance of the most profitable firms, vs. other companies in the industry. Year in and year out, the same components for success are true, as listed below: @ Expense management is key. Sales growth is important. Gross margins are not necessarily important, but the combination of gross margin, inventory turnover and the resulting GMROI is important. Personnel management is always a key component for success. The basics of accounts receivables management is always important. EXAMPLES OF BUSINESS INNOVATION While doing things better and different (i. e., the essence of innovation) is not necessarily easy, it is doable if you are “open and committed” to change. Some real-world examples of companies that have identified and implemented successful innovation strategies, as well as some unsuccessful innovations, include: ESTABLISHING A CORPORATE CULTURE TO PROMOTE INNOVATION Probably the first step for identifying innovation opportunities is to simply be open to change from the top down within your company. Executives at the highest level need to be willing and ready to listen to employees, customers, suppliers and markets for new opportunities, and then objectively assess those ideas for further investigation and possible implementation. In other words, a company should avoid complacency, and always should challenge itself to adapt and improve. Earning and growing profits due to innovation is the criteria for success, rather than simply more revenue dollars that are eroded through higher expenses. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS In summary, the long-term success of any company depends on the company’s ability and willingness to adapt and evolve as its business environment changes. Successful strategies of the past do not necessarily translate into the best way to operate in the future. If you are consistently highly profitable, then you should use the OPR to continually monitor and fine-tune your business. However, if your profitability has stagnated, or even declined, it is time to look for new and better ways to operate. Remember, as Plato taught in 347 B.C., “necessity is the mother of invention,” but doing nothing may mean the eventual demise of your company. Keeping the Pipeline Strong By Chris Murin, Executive Director and Industrial Piping Division Staff Liaision Many of the members in ASA’s Industrial Piping Division (IPD) have expressed that their businesses and relationships with one another are more productive, increasingly relevant and propel growth and success as a result of their membership and participation. The camaraderie that permeates throughout ASA’s Industrial Piping Division lends itself to fostering a truly collaborative forum for the good of the industry and for all channel partners. Today, 14 executives representing industrial PVF distributors and suppliers serve as volunteer leaders on ASA’s IPD Executive Council. Together, along with all ASA’s volunteer leaders throughout the organization, they work to ensure our national association is best-positioned to meet member needs in both the near and long term. In particular, ASA’s IPD Executive Council is focused on implementing strategies and tactics with respect to two of the association’s mega goals: operational excellence, as well as employee recruitment and education. With more than one-third of ASA’s members also part of IPD, understanding what motivates this segment of the membership to participate in and leverage the association’s business intelligence surveys and reports is key. “ASA’s IPD wholesalers are often best-positioned to read the pulse on the latest trends and activities in the marketplace and gauge performance,” says Brian Tuohey, the 2016 IPD chairman from The Collins Companies. “The more IPD can help to make clear what these different resources are and why they’re valuable, as well as how they can be improved will drive member value and participation.” “ASA and IPD also afford us access to an environment that allows suppliers and distributors to work collectively toward creating and supporting common solutions,” says Kip Miller, the 2016 IPD vice chairman from Eastern Industrial Supplies. This synergy is critical for helping members to address the challenge they face to attract, recruit and retain the best employees. This summer, for example, IPD is planning to survey its members’ hiring professionals to collect information about best practices that will help companies to stand out and be recognized as employers of choice. Bottom line, ASA is becoming increasingly indispensable to achieving prosperity in our industry. The efforts of or national association and its IPD work to enhance the image, brand and respect for each member company. Remember That Your Vote Counts Dan Hilton, Director of Government Affairs Our nation was built by farmers, inventors and entrepreneurs - visionaries that foresaw the absolute benefits of citizens participating in the political process and being civically knowledgeable and engaged. The 2016 elections could prove to be the most pivotal in recent years, but you can’t make a difference if you don’t make your voice heard. Even if you aren’t able to vote on Election Day, in just about every state you may be able to vote early or by absentee ballot. Schedules are busy and last-minute chores come up, but in order to ensure candidates with common-sense solutions to build a healthy economy are elected, make sure during this election season you take the time to cast your ballot. It often seems like you don’t have the ability to really make a difference. You wouldn’t be the first one to think, “What good will my vote do?” Keep in mind, not every election is decided by a large margin. Some come down to a difference of just a couple-hundred votes or even less. The following races were decided by less than 500 votes: © 2014 - Colorado Congressional District 7 was decided by 121 votes. 2006 - Connecticut Congressional District 2 was decided by 83 votes. 2000 - New Mexico was decided by 366 votes in the presidential election. 1998 - Nevada Senate race was decided by 428 votes. Don’t forget: Even if you don’t vote, by failing to do so you are essentially casting a ballot for the candidate you oppose. Sitting at home is never the best option! But remember, before you vote you must register! Go to ASA.net/Advocacy (keyword Election Center) and learn everything you need to about your candidates, polling places, deadlines and more. ASA Networking Lays Groundwork for A. O. Smith Program By David Chisolm, Vice President of Marketing for A. O. Smith For three days last October, the A. O. Smith team updated its industry partners in Chicago at the annual NETWORK 2015 conference hosted by the American Supply Association. ASA’s NETWORK conference is one of the top events for the PHCP-PVF industry, mostly because it brings together leaders and top decision-makers from the entire supply channel: wholesaler-distributors, independent reps, vendors and manufacturers. The A. O. Smith team looks forward to ASA events such as NETWORK because it gives our leaders an opportunity to share new developments with our business and highlight some of the great work our team members are doing in the areas of product innovation and service. In 2015, we eagerly shared the benefits of our growing Contractor Rewards program, which allows A. O. Smith contractors to sign up and earn rewards for installing A. O. Smith residential and commercial products. The Contractor Rewards program allows us to communicate regularly with plumbing contractors across North America, and participants have earned rewards that range from movie tickets to Caribbean cruises. As we discussed Contractor Rewards and other A. O. Smith business developments with wholesalers, a common theme started to emerge: many of our wholesale partners want access to the same regular business updates that our contractor partners receive. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED When the A. O. Smith team left ASA’s NETWORK 2015 conference, we did so with actionable intelligence from trusted business partners that contributed to the foundation of our new Wholesale Channel Partners program. Launched in 2016, this new program allows A. O. Smith to communicate product news and updates directly to our wholesale partners through an easy-to-use Web portal. Today A. O. Smith is a better business partner to our wholesale distributors all because of a simple conversation made possible by a membership in the American Supply Association. Of course, this is just one instance, but there are hundreds of industry leaders who attend ASA events and through conversations with their contemporaries, discover challenges and start creating solutions. INDUSTRY FORECASTS Networking with top industry professionals is only one of many reasons ASA is a leading organization in the PHCPPVF industry and a great resource. If conversations with customers at ASA events give you a pulse on how you’re doing as a business, it’s ASA’s business intelligence analyses that keep your finger on the pulse of the industry. At our core, A. O. Smith is focused on designing and manufacturing market leading hot water solutions for every home and nearly every business application. That’s what we do best. But it’s a big industry beyond hot water so we rely on organizations such as ASA to keep our partners in the supply chain aware of blind spots and opportunities that may be coming ahead. The ASA team spends a great deal of time and energy to educate members about industry and market trends and, most importantly, how those trends could affect their bottom line. Best of all, ASA makes sure presentations are accessible and relevant for decision-makers. EDUCATING THE SUPPLY CHAIN For A. O. Smith to be successful, we must offer meaningful support and educational opportunities to installers and plumbing contractors. Well-trained installers who understand the benefits of their water heater products are better for their business — and ours. That’s why A. O. Smith is an enthusiastic supporter of ASA University, the only resource of its kind built by suppliers specifically for distribution business professionals. These tools make the sales channel much stronger by providing new employees and rising professionals with training and insights they can use in the real world. A. O. Smith depends on suppliers. We share in their success — and challenges. Whether it’s a member of the purchasing department or a warehouse manager, ASA University programs are producing distribution teams that are more accurate, more efficient and better equipped to handle surprises, be it a missed delivery or lost inventory. It’s difficult to place a dollar sign on ASA benefits, such as hearing a market trend in time to prepare for it or building a world class distribution business. But for A. O. Smith, we know the conversations that produce a great idea are worth every penny of a membership to the American Supply Association.
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