The past few years have been difficult for leaders who had to decide which operational expenses to reduce to help save the jobs of people who are part of their “distribution family.” Unfortunately, training is one of those areas where “cuts” work against both the long-term and short-term health and profitability of your company. Even in tough times, training cuts seem shortsighted in the long-term: • Training plays an important role in helping a company survive a tough period, make a quicker recovery, and take market share. Training can identify improvements in operating systems and opportunities for more efficiency and profits. Training can help you keep your best employees who historically look for improved employment opportunitiesAs the economy recovers. Training is a key component of any company’s “succession plan” to ensure that 70 million retiring baby boomers are seamlessly replaced In the short-term, training cuts are myopic because training protects profits from profit-killing behavior. Let’s look at a few actions you can take to quickly and directly connect training to improved profitability. You might call this “how to avoid leaving piles of cash on the table.“ Identify areas with the best potential for improvement 1. Compare your company’s performance to ASA’s Operating Performance Report. Looking at areas such as gross margins, sales growth, cost of goods, and operating expense where the high-profi t firms excel, as well as the personnel productivity ratios, can be useful. Evaluate your activities, such as safety and security, where the cost of ignorance is especially high. Activities that result in loss of work Days, injuries, fines, and lawsuits are worth a high level of attention. Targeted improvement numbers don’t have to be huge. For example the Essentials of Profitable Wholesale Distribution© demonstrates that a 1% performance improvement in pricing can yield a 47.5% improvement in profits; a 1% improvement in the cost of goods sold can yield a 37.5%improvement. Develop a strategy to improve the numbers you have selected What does bad behavior cost? Using the OPR’s wholesaler average net Profit of 2%, a $5,000 sale will yield a net profit of $100. Giving a 2% Discount on that sale wipes out 77% of its net profit. That’s a behavior you Want to change fast! Poorly trained salespeople with bad pricing behavior leave piles of Your money on the table! Those employees will cave on pricing, fail to understand the basic math of discounts, and fail to profit from information About the price sensitivities of different customers, customer groups, and products. Implement training to enable the pricing behavior you want Your plan might include the following: • Develop an understanding of the relationships among sales, margins, and profi ts Present the value of your services and your prices confi dently • Improve the ability to present the value proposition • Develop confidence in the fairness of your pricing • Develop the ability to exploit price sensitivities of various Groups and purchasing situations. ASA is your partner in profi tability So, you get the point. Untrained employees can leave sacks of your money on the table. Training can help you get much of it back quickly. Although finding the right training is hard work, much of that effort Has already been done for you. You have a powerful ally in the ASAEducation Foundation, whose courses include profit builders for your Company. We can help you with your training; just give us a call at312. 464.0090. Next month, we will share several factors and tools that will help make Your training work. IPD Drives Growth & Support for PVF Industry Since Pat Adams, president of MKS Pipe & Valve Co. In Kansas City, Missouri, began his tenure as chairman of ASA’s Industrial Piping Division (IPD) three years ago, he has played an instrumental role working with the other members of the IPD Executive Council to ensure that industrial and mechanical PVF distributors and manufacturers have and will continue to benefit from ASA’s renewed focus on education, advocacy, networking and building relationships in the channel. “Coming into this position, I recognized that an important challenge for us was to address the misunderstood, maligned and mischaracterized relationship between ASA and IPD. The fact is that ASA has four major values – advocacy, benchmarking, education and networking, and IPD brings the focus onto the unique needs of industrial and mechanical PVF distributors and manufacturers in a variety of ways,” states Adams. One clear example is how best to integrate some of the PVF-specifi c programming, such as the IPD Open House, into the overall program for NetworkASA. The last year that ASA held a tradeshow or conference booth program was in 2008, ending that practice in response to overwhelming feedback from Supportive manufacturers throughout the industry. The IPD Open House has come, gone, and come back Again. ASA has continued to repurpose and redefine NetworkASA as the industry’s premier educational and networking event, maintaining its relevance to the PVF community and warranting sustained support from manufacturers throughout the Industry. “The relationship between ASA and the IPD Executive Council has been re-born, revitalized, and re-focused. There is now a clear vision of just what it takes to be the leader in a distribution and manufacturer association, and I am proud to have played a part in this rejuvenation,” continues Adams. “The IPD Executive Council is very fortunate to have as its members some of the most respected individuals in both distribution and manufacturing, and if you think we’ve come a long way I believe the best is yet to come!” The success of any organization is attributed to the commitment and enthusiasm of the people involved. This October, Bob Arison, senior vice president and chief operating officer of All-Tex Pipe & Supply in Dallas, Texas, will become the new IPD chairman. “Within the IPD, we continue to gain momentum and are blessed with motivated volunteer leaders on the Executive Council who are dedicated to provide all IPD members with improved and expanded benefits,” shares Arison. “The now quarterly publication of the IPD Commodity Bob Arison Reports is a good example, as all IPD members find the information timely and incredibly valuable when communicating with their customers.” Membership retention and growth will continue to be a key focus for the Division, and while there have been a few notable losses, there has also been substantial growth in recent years. “All of us on the Executive Council clearly recognize that there are still a number of wholesalers and manufacturers that will be great additions as new ASA and IPD members, and going forward, we will continue to work in earnest so as to gain their participation and support throughout the organization as well as at NetworkASA,” Arison emphasizes. NetworkASA 2010: THRIVE will be held in Chicago, October 12-15, and Bob is not alone in feeling that the program presents some of the most interesting and thought-provoking speakers and presentations in the history of our industry’s national event. His message to the industry is, “I would strongly encourage wholesalers, manufacturers and manufacturer’s reps to attend the convention and fully participate in the programs that this opportunity represents for all of us. In particular, ASA and IPD look forward to strong support from the industrial manufacturers to participate in the wholesaler-vendor conference appointments as well as the IPD Open House, and during the summer months, all of the volunteer leaders will reach out to ensure the success of this event for all of us.” ASA Government & Public Affairs Committee Seeks Full-Time Solution to Attacks From Washington It seems that every day we read about new legislative initiatives and regulations that target our businesses. None of these issues has made it easier to run a profi table business,” states Dennis Goode, CEO of M. Cooper Supply Co. And chairman of ASA’s Government & Public Affairs Committee. “Unfortunately, too often we simply assume that someone will step up and promote the best interests of our industry and fight on our behalf. Events in Washington over the past year have made it painfully clear that we can no longer afford the luxury of sitting on the sidelines. Our industry must unify its voice to fight the daily attacks that begin in Washington, D.C., and end on the doorstep of industry businesses.” To that end, the ASA Government & Public Affairs Committee has presented a case to the ASA Executive Committee and argued that ASA needs to expand its part-time role in Washington to a full-time, robust effort to fight for the PHCP/ PVF industry. At this time, issues are being introduced faster than ASA’s limited role can affordably combat them. The ASA Executive Committee has authorized the committee to seek three-year additional dues pledges from the membership, which will enable the association to hire a dedicated, full-time staff person based in Washington, D.C. “This move is bold and visionary and exhibits ASA’s commitment to the interests and success of its members by placing increased resources and leadership needed to become part of the solution in Washington,” states Mike Adelizzi, ASA’s executive vice president. Most recently, ASA has joined with the PMI to combat an attempt by the DOE to essentially outlaw the manufacturing of multi-showerhead units with an arbitrary ruling, void of public comment. “One thing is certain: these issues will escalate in the foreseeable future and will place a great burden on members’ budgets in trying to deal with them as well as the association’s budget in trying to fight for industry interests,” continues Adelizzi.“These issues just can’t be ignored, and ASA cannot continue to fight the onslaught of attacks on our businesses alone.” Path to Safety: Step 14 Almost one in five workplace injuries is the result of a slip, trip or fall. Slips happen where there is too little friction or traction between footwear and the walking surface. Trips happen when your foot collides with (strikes, hits) an object causing you to lose your balance. Falls occur when you lose contact with the walking or working surface. Falls can occur either on the same level or from an elevated surface. Falls from an elevated surface are second only to motor vehicle accidents in the cause of workplace fatalities. OSHA currently is proposing new regulations for general industry relating to fall protection devices and work on elevated levels. More specifi c information on the proposed regulations can be found at www.osha.gov. There are many causal factors for slips, trips, and falls, such as ice, wet areas, grease, loose flooring or carpeting, inattention to surroundings, uneven scaffolding planking, clutter, worn rope on descent systems, open desk drawers and fi ling cabinets, damaged ladder steps, and a more subtle cause--a belief that the action being taken will not lead to an accident. For example, where a ladder is not readily available, employees may improvise and use a chair, or even a 5-gallon bucket, as a way to reach a higher level. In fact, accident data show that many falls could be prevented if existing OSHA regulations and recommended safe practices were followed. The hazards generally can be grouped into three (often interrelated) factors: equipment, human, and environmental. Examples of some equipment factors include improper footwear, uneven surfaces, foreign substances on surfaces such as oil or litter, and unguarded sides and edges of elevated platforms. Some human factors are inattention, haste, human error, failure to follow instructions, and fatigue. Environmental factors may include poor lighting and weather-related conditions. The presence of multiple factors increases the risk. For instance, a polished marble floor may not present a slipping hazard to someone wearing rubber-soled shoes; however, when the floor is wet from mopping or snow being tracked in from the outdoors, the risk of slipping greatly increases. The addition of other factors such as poor lighting, inattention, and haste are likely to further increase the risk. Slips and trips can lead to falls that cause injuries such as back strains or other injuries when individuals try to “catch’’ themselves. Falls on the same level can cause injuries such as sprains, strains, fractures, and contusions that may affect any area of the body and, on occasion, can be fatal. Falling from an elevated surface increases injury severity and the likelihood of fatalities.
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