Advancing Members’ Ability To Lead ASA’s Executive Committee Approves Funding for Major New Initiatives for 2018 By Michael Adelizzi, Executive Vice President, American Supply Association WITH THE NEWEST VERSION of ASA’s Strategic Long-Range Plan, the Executive Committee met on July 18-19 to establish initiatives for the next 18 months based on input from association volunteer leaders and their strategic discussions last winter. In keeping with the ongoing evaluation and investment in resources, which continues to expand the association, the Executive Committee reviewed numerous initiatives sought by board and division members for implementation in 2018. For nearly 10 years, the leadership of ASA has worked to build financial reserves while at the same time adding new initiatives. This year, the Executive Committee committed resources for three new initiatives that will enhance member benefits. The ASA Executive Committee evaluated every strategic goal area and is investing increased resources in the following targeted areas: EXPANDING THE DEPTH AND BREADTH OF BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE ASA will add staff for a full-time focus on business intelligence. As one of the association’s four core value propositions, business intelligence provides ASA members with the information necessary to make sound business decisions. Offering critical information regarding industry compensation, economic forecasting, commodity and materials pricing, sales trends, and operational performance, ASA’s business intelligence offerings will become more relevant and significant. Additionally, an upgrade to the data collection process and dashboard reporting will improve the value of the data so ASA can continue to be a trusted resource for members. CONNECTING MEMBERS TO CUSTOMERS ASA will add a new service, The DigitalBranch Incubator, to provide the information and support needed by members to navigate their online presence. Many distributors have started their journey either on their own or with outside help. However, ASA has an opportunity to support the membership with the tools, resources and information to continuously evolve and expand their know-how. The DigitalBranch Incubator program will empower members with training and education on e-commerce, digital marketing, and creating a digital branch. Industry best practices and updates will keep members abreast of new and exciting opportunities, and e-commerce software and platform comparisons will help members make the best choices. ATTRACTING THE BEST TALENT ASA will play a larger role in marketing the industry to the next generation of workers. By partnering with industrial distribution colleges and universities, ASA will bring future employees to the annual NETWORK event to connect with and learn from ASA members. Through the creation of an internship manual, ASA will assist members in attracting new talent for their management trainee programs. With marketing assets to communicate the career opportunities within the industry, ASA will share the importance of our industry to the health and safety of the nation and the role prospective employees can play. With education and training, ASA will help members illustrate that they are employers of choice with career pathing, continuing education, and a positive work culture and workplace environment. ASA has grown in its financial strength that now provides leadership with the ability to expand the ways in which the association can advance members’ ability to be successful. Expanding their ability to connect with customers, strengthen their ability to stay ahead of economic trends and their ability to hire, train and retain top talent are the new ways in which the association is remaining viable and a relevant partner for the future. More details will be announced at the association’s Annual Member Lunch during NETWORK2017 in Nashville in October. Maximize Profitability By the Numbers 15 Ratios to Regularly Monitor By Tom Noon, Principal Industry Insights MANAGING A BUSINESS is challenging enough during favorable economic periods, let alone during business downturns or during slow economic growth periods. However, history tells us that business conditions change. No matter how good the economy is, eventually a downturn (and probable recession) will occur. Likewise, even during recessionary periods, there is some satisfaction in knowing that eventually a recovery is on the horizon. The unfortunate part about economic cycles is that businesses usually are affected in ways that are beyond their control. When the economy is in a downturn, even the best-managed firms experience slower growth, lower profits and cash flow problems. To further complicate matters, economic swings are difficult to predict and virtually impossible for which to plan. Although we know cycles inevitably occur, we do not know when or for how long they will last. One solution to this dilemma is to maintain control of your business at all times, regardless of what is happening in the economy. For example, resist the temptation to be soft on expense control just because the economy is good, and your sales, cash flow and bottom line profits are strong. There still may be expense inefficiencies taking away from profits and go unnoticed due to the favorable business climate. If so, these could cause big problems if the economy turns downward. By maintaining strong control of your business, regardless of the economy, you can be assured of maximizing your profitability at all times. To do this is no more complicated than following sound, basic business practices in the management of all aspects of your business. In particular, ASA’s annual Operating Performance Report (OPR) contains information that will help to direct your ability to grow profitability. And in fact, the OPR represents the most complete, accurate and up-to-date comparative financial performance data available anywhere to benchmark the PHCP-PVF supply chain. Recognizing that an almost infinite number of possible financial and operating performance ratios can be calculated, a key challenge for making comparative ratio analysis meaningful is to identify which ratios are the most useful to monitor and with what frequency. The key dimensions of management that should be monitored on a regular basis are sales performance, profit margins, personnel productivity, assets – especially inventory and receivables, financial management and liquidity (i.e., cash). Visit www.asa.net/OPRtable to see a table which identifies 15 suggested ratios for monitoring performance on a daily, monthly, quarterly and/or annual basis. These are provided as one possible framework for you to adopt or to serve as a guide for developing a similar set of measures that are best for your company. In conclusion, even though the economy will go through roller-coaster cycles, the effects of these swings can be minimized through constant control. The comparative financial and operating performance ratios provided as benchmarks in ASA’s 2017 OPR can serve as an important control tool for your company. > Learn more: www.asa.net/bi ASA ONLINE KEEP UP-TO-DATE with the latest ASA member benefits by frequently visiting www.asa.net. ALREADY A MEMBER? Check out the newly designed My ASA page by logging in at www.asa.net/myasa. Karl E. Neupert Endowment Fund Preparing for the Challenge Ahead The extraordinary generosity of donors, both past and present, make it possible for the ASA Education Foundation to develop and deliver education, tools and resources aimed at elevating the workforce of our industry. These efforts result in top-notch role-based training, talent development support and access to a team of ASA-U Advisors to help along the way – all of which impact your industry, your business and your legacy. As we face the looming labor shortages, the Karl E. Neupert Endowment Fund will be more critical than ever to our industry’s future. To ensure you are prepared to meet the challenges ahead, we have set a goal to add “3 million by 2020” to the fund to expand the support available. We would like to thank the following companies who have already pledged their support to Campaign 2020: $100,000 - 249,999 Winsupply $50,000 - 99,999 First Supply Plumbing Distributors, Inc. Thos. Somerville Co. $25,000 - 49,999 APR Supply Co. Consolidated Supply Co. The Granite Group WHCI Plumbing Supply Co. $10,000 - 24,999 Aaron & Co. Central States Group Eastern Industrial Supplies Etna Supply Co. Robertson Heating Supply Co. Zoeller Co. UP TO $9,999 Added Sales Co. Associated Marketing Bradford White Corp. Central Sales Charles D. Sheehy Coastal Supply Group Columbia Specialty Company Cooper New England Sales Elkhart Products Corp. Erb Co. Hajoca Corp. Hirsch Pipe & Supply Co. Hodes & Sutter InSinkErator Johnston Supply Jomar Valve Keidel Supply Co. Kitz Corporation of America Liberty Pumps M & H Sales Mansfield Plumbing Products Milford Supply Co. Milwaukee Valve Co. North Shore Heating Supply Co. Northeastern Supply Northwest Pipe Fittings Pacific Plumbing Supply Co. Palace Plumbing & Heating Supply Corp. Porter Pipe & Supply Co. Rubenstein Supply Co. Security Plumbing & Heating Supply Co. SharkBite / Cash Acme, RWC SPS Companies, Inc. The Collins Companies The Ideal Supply Co. Thomas J. Higgins Co. Westwater Supply Corp. WIT & Co. In Memory of Donna Marie Troy Columbia Pipe & Supply Co. In Memory of Fred V. Keenan Bradford White Corp. Columbia Pipe & Supply Co. Gary Emerson (GRE Partners) Ed Felten Hajoca Corp. HONORARY GIFTS In honor of Carl J. Zoeller We’d also like to recognize our Founding Donors who were essential to fulfilling the original vision of the endowment and the creation of ASA University. Visit www.asa.net/founders for the full list. Without these visionaries, ASA-U would not be the valuable and essential resource it is today. To add your company to the list of supporters and innovators investing in the future of our industry, visit www.asa.net/give or contact Amy Black at (630) 467-0000 x 202. Make Customers Your Most Powerful Weapon & Turn Your Showroom into a Selling Machine Customers are your business and most buying decisions take place in the emotional center of the customer’s brain. Sponsored by ASA, the upcoming Showroom Managers Networking Council program will show you how to grow and retain your customer base by employing a variety of strategies, including the Kano model. Develop and orchestrate the kind of customer experience that inspires lifelong loyalties — and makes word-of-mouth you’re least expensive but most powerful marketing tool. Attendees also will discover fascinating ways to appeal directly to these emotions in your showroom by tweaking your surroundings. Learn how to maximize showroom ambiance and product displays to transform the average showroom into a formidable selling system. Held during Design & Construction Week, this event is a must-attend session. Register at www.asa.net/showroomcouncil. Design & Construction Week, sponsored in part by ASA, features the co-location of the NKBA’s Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) and the NAHB International Builders’ Show (IBS). In 2018, this co-location of tradeshows and markets occurs in Orlando, Fla., Jan. 9-11. The fifth annual DCW will bring together more than 80,000 design and construction professionals in the largest annual gathering of the residential design and construction industry. ASA members receive special discounts to explore the exhibit floors of both shows — a combined total of 2,100-plus exhibits! Register for your DCW expo pass today by visiting www.designandconstructionweek.com. INNOVATION CORNER SEPTEMBER, 2017 The Sky is the Limit Dirk Beveridge, UnleashWD THOSE WITH THE HIGHEST LEVELS of energy and optimism are those who are quite literally in awe of life and the future, place no limits on growth, and attack each day with a “possibilities” mindset. For them, it is all about the future. These people are future-fixated and often are the innovators within organizations. Bono of U2 tells us: “Forget about the past, we’re going to celebrate the future.” Jeff Bezos reminds everyone at Amazon that every day is “Day One” of the internet revolution. Ronald Reagan spoke of America as “a shining city on a hill” and its boundless promise. Steve Jobs famously explained that if you do something successful you shouldn’t dwell on it; you should continue on and do “what’s next.” This mindset delivers an energy and optimism that catalyzes the change, creativity and innovation required to create your future. Consider the potential of a future-fixated mindset to fuel change — in yourself and within your organization. > Learn more: www.dirkbeveridge.com (847) 381-7797 Kohler and ASA: Working together to provide extraordinary customer experiences By Beth Bouck, Director of Integrated Marketing with Kohler Kohler Co.’s continual growth and leadership position in the plumbing industry over the past 140-plus years is due in large part to the many partnerships we have forged with the supplier members of the American Supply Association, an organization dedicated — like Kohler — to developing its members and advancing the industry as a whole. Collectively, ASA members and Kohler will succeed more often than not when we are pulling in the same direction to exceed our customers’ expectations. From a manufacturer’s perspective, we want ASA supplier members to help drive a longterm strategic relationship instead of one that is more transactional and short-term. That means Kohler working together with ASA members to develop business plans, improving our supply chain that is best-in-class — one that is efficient, effective and highly productive. And that includes the visual presentation, design and functionality of your showrooms that foster and deliver a memorable and personalized customer experience. Kohler looks to ASA to be the eyes and ears in the field, understanding and listening to the needs of your diverse base of trade customers and reporting back to us what you’re hearing and needing. We all need to commit to having an open mind and evaluating new strategies to grow our businesses — not resorting to legacy processes and potentially stagnant practices. We need to consider how our coordinated approach together can provide the customer with a superior shopping experience. In turn, Kohler needs to help generate customer excitement as well, by applying research and driving behaviors to keep our product categories innovative and relevant, and delivering compelling content through pull-through strategies. We also need to continue driving improvements in the supply chain and fulfilling delivery commitments on-time consistently. Having access to the resources provided by ASA is a valuable tool for trade professionals to help grow their businesses and remain competitive. Additional education provided through manufacturing partners of ASA, like Kohler, can advance this through a better understanding of the newest technologies, innovations and design trends available in the market. We all need to remain true to who we are as both a business and individual and much of that is embedded in our values. At Kohler, our mission is “to raise the level of gracious living for every person who experiences our products and services.” In supporting that mission daily, we practice a set of Guiding Principles that help propel us toward continued success. Among these principles: We live on the leading edge of design and technology in product and process. We have a strong aversion to copying, but rather, we lead the market, while not filling it with clutter. We maintain a single level of quality across all of our product categories from toilets and bathtubs, to kitchen sinks, showerheads and bathroom furniture. Our products differ in materials, in function and in detail, but never in quality. We invest in our business; specifically 90% of after-tax profits are re-invested in the company. We do this because we support fully the continued development and innovation that stems from investing in research, technology and — most important — our talented employees. ASA is an important resource for us to stay on the pulse of economic, social and political developments impacting our business. Networking, educational programs, seminars and many more tools provided by ASA further help us to remain competitive. It is significant for Kohler and other companies in our industry to have ASA as a partner in dealing with industry issues, and serving as a conduit in bringing suppliers and manufacturers together to set a course for a more prosperous future.
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