Challenge to the Industry As we move into the last few months of 2011, I reflect on what a great year it has been serving as president of the American Supply Association. Last month's NetworkASA 2011 boasted 84 wholesale firms, 64 manufacturing firms and a total of 498 attendees.These were increases of more than 1/3 from the previous meeting on all counts, and the numbers reflect exactly what I have been saying at various events throughout the year and in my monthly letters; ASA is a GROWING ASSOCIATION. Do you need more proof? At last month's Annual Meeting and Member Lunch during NetworkASA 2011, I addressed the membership regarding some very important statistics. ASA has attained 22 new member firms in 2011 (two more than the intended goal of 20), exceeded OPR participation by 19 companies over last year and increased our monthly sales participation goals by 20 companies. In addition, we are very close to hitting our goal of increasing PAC participation by 25%. As an added bonus, the ASA Education Foundation has passed its goal of online students by 25 and is also very close to achieving its goal for the number of companies participating in training activities. Last, but certainly not least, ASA has exceeded its annual sponsorship goals by more than 20% What does all this mean? We are just scratching the surface. How have we gotten here? We have a focused group of leaders on our Executive Committee and Board of Directors as well as a diligent group of individuals on the ASA staff that have set and reached these goals through extra effort. Quite simply, we have delivered on the mission in our four key areas of EDUCATION, BENCHMARKING, NETWORKING and in being the VOICE OF THE INDUSTRY in Washington, DC. Where do we go from here? As a nation of open markets driven by competition, in our association we must come together and work side-by-side on our marketplace. We have the very powerful ability to affect the job market not only in our industry, but throughout others as well. Most nations welcome manufacturing and limit access to distribution. We must continue to promote manufacturing and distribution to continue to maintain and exceed our goals. We can do this by strongly promoting the "Made in America" label, by influencing opposition of unreasonable regulations in Washington, and by self-policing quality standards for product delivery. Where is the payback for working on improving an industry full of my competitors? Here is the question I pose to you: Wouldn't a 10% market share in an industry that is well-educated, efficient and forward-thinking be worth more than the same market share that has none of those qualities? I ask that we all take a page from the Sam Walton book. Mr. Walton had very few original ideas. Most of his ideas came from his competitors. He improved on these ideas by implementing them more efficiently. Our industry can be a place not only where ideas are shared, but knowledge gained. Our marketplace will reward those who do the best job of implementing the best ideas. At the end of 2011, I will step down as ASA President. My parting challenge to all of you is quite simple: ASA represents national chains, buying groups and regional associations representing smaller independent operations. I ask that all of us invest our time, talent and money to work on our marketplace. The payback is tremendous!
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