The Starting Point ASA University features colleges, curricula and advisory services from the ASA Education Foundation Answer: I don’t even know where to start. Question: What is the most common revelation heard by ASA Education Foundation staff when talking to a company about employee training? “For years, we’ve talked to companies of all shapes and sizes about their training needs,” states Amy Black, executive director of the ASA Education Foundation. “The Board of Trustees has worked to develop useful and practical training tools and resources, giving companies what we believe is the key to creating an effective training program. And they’re great for the companies that have a program in place; they take the courses and plug them right in to their plans. However, the vast majority of our members don’t have a training program in place. For them, we were missing one crucial step — the starting point.” In 2009, the ASA Education Foundation (ASAEF) launched ASA University, a comprehensive training resource that encompassed all the programs ASAEF had to offer. Within ASA University, the extensive library of training courses were converted into an online format and tied to a learning management system (LMS) to provide tracking of student progress. At NetworkASA 2011, Mark Hanley, president of the ASA Education Foundation Board of Trustees, presented a revolutionized concept of ASA University, which is that in addition to the comprehensive training courses, users will be able to follow a specific curriculum of training, based on job functions and responsibilities. “It was the classic ‘AHA!’ moment for a lot of people in the industry,” shares Black. “The roadmap now exists to start a training program, every company now has a starting point.” The new ASA University is an all-inclusive resource to help companies become more efficient, more productive and more profitable by enabling employees to be better at their jobs and succeed within the company. ALL ROADS LEAD TO ASA UNIVERSITY Once a distributor gets past the starting point and starts creating a training plan, frustration can arrive in the form of a disconnect between knowing what is needed and being able to find what is needed. “ASAU is a portal to access one-stop-shopping for performance management, coaching and learning,” Hanley told the NetworkASA 2011 audience. ASAU Online is a complete library of engaging courses — currently 64 total courses available, and growing — housed within a system that allows the user to track performance. ASAEF reports that 2,039 courses have been purchased in the last 18 months. “The tracking feature provides the measurement needed for ownership and management to see what kind of progress is being made by employees enrolled in the training program,” Black says. “The online component of these courses takes the burden off of staff to manually track and evaluate activity and completion, it’s all done for them. That gives back a lot of time to the business, yet still provides hard data that can be used during performance evaluations and when trying to make decisions about an employee’s future opportunities.” The Competency Models/Performance Management tools, complete with rubrics, offer both participants in the training process — management and employees — measurement tools that assist with job performance. Each party begins with a comprehensive job description with key behaviors and competencies built in. “Everyone involved understands what’s expected because it’s all clearly defined,” continues Black. Managers use the tools to help identify behaviors that are appropriate for each position and can refer back to the data as an on the- job evaluation tool. Employees can use the same system as a career advancement tool, looking at what is needed to perform better in a certain position or as a guide on what skills are needed to move up within the company. “The big news today is the curricula that is now a standard part of ASA University,” Black shares. “That’s the starting point, that’s where industry volunteers and ASAEF staff worked together to identify training, learning and coaching opportunities and then directly connected it to the performance management tool.” Any ASA University curriculum goes beyond the basic book and online courses to list pertinent seminars and workshops, recommended reading, on-the-job actions and mentoring. Individuals can drive their own development and use it as a road map to see how to achieve their career goals. COLLEGES OF KNOWLEDGE A cornerstone of Hanley’s presentation was the introduction of two ASA University Colleges: The College of Sales and Sales Management and the College of Leadership and Executive Management. Both colleges offer complete job descriptions for sales and management positions, a comprehensive curriculum to address the job skills each position requires and performance measurements to track each individual’s progress in the specific skill area. “Each college is a turn-key, one-stop shop for coaching and developing many of the most important people in our organizations,” Hanley told his audience. “Outside salesmen can learn how to better utilize their time and penetrate accounts, showroom consultants can learn how to better qualify customers and increase closing rates, inside salespersons can learn how to maximize margins and increase sales, and branch managers can learn how to better develop and lead their teams.” Next year, ASAEF expects to launch a College of Purchasing and Inventory Management, a College of Warehouse Management and a College of Business. MAKE IT YOUR OWN Thanks to ASAEF’s deep involvement in the overall industry, it has been clearly understood that not all things apply to all businesses. “What’s important to understand about these starting points is, they’re just that — a place to start,” Black emphasizes. “Every business out there has attributes that make them unique, whether it’s the company culture, budgets, time available for training and the product they sell. That’s where the ASAEF staff plays an important role in this program.” The knowledgeable staff of the Education Foundation acts as an advisor in tailoring an existing curriculum to a company’s individual needs, refining the starting point even further and developing a training program that brings even greater value to an organization. “We’ve been working with companies for the better part of 18 months and are able to see the real-world workability of what has been developed,” Black says. “This has allowed us to identify changes that were needed, enhance areas that required more attention and collect best practices to share with each successive company we worked with. We are able to apply what we’ve learned and create more value for our members.” In 2012, ASAEF staff will travel to help interested ASA members assess their training needs and develop individual training solutions tailored to each company’s budget. “Training is now more than a one time event and much more relevant than ever before,” Hanley concluded. “There has been nothing in our industry like ASA University. Until now.” For more information on ASA University, please contact Amy Black at 312. 464.0090, ext. 202, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.asa.net. ASA Members Provide Insight about the Future of Wholesaling in the PHCP and PVF Industry Industry-leading distributors met in September at NetworkASA 2011 in Las Vegas to attend one of the most successful ASA conferences in years. During the conference, Supply House Times utilized the occasion to conduct a roundtable interview of six ASA distributor members. This interview will provide the industry with a glimpse as to what they see coming down the pipe and how they are trying to remain relevant. They grappled with questions such as: • How have you/your company been impacted by social media? • How are you preparing for Obamacare? • What tax issues do you not want touched by the new “Super Committee” that will be meeting to cut an additional $1.5 trillion from the federal budget? Participating in the 2-hour interview session were Joe Poehling, First Supply; Pat Hughes, Jabo Supply; David Finkel, Davis & Warshow; Rick Schwartz, WinWholesale; John Strong, Economy Plumbing and Reggie Hickman, Brock McVey. The article is expected out within the next few months, so please stay tuned for more details! Task Force Meets to Develop Forecasting Program A team of industry leaders met during NetworkASA 2011 in Las Vegas to begin mapping out plans to provide critical industry specific forecasting data never before attempted.Representatives from industry buying groups, national distributors and leading independent wholesalers and manufacturers debated the best course for forecasting future economic trends that would be dependable and actionable; providing certainty to the industry/membership about what is coming down the pipe. “The goal of this task group is to amass the technology and expertise present within our organization and develop a forecasting product that will allow ASA to become a repository of financial results for the wholesale distribution industry. Leveraging our historical financial data will enable us to create a prediction model that will allow ASA to become the forecasting expert in the PHCP industry,” said Scott Weaver, Forecasting Task Group Chairman.The Forecasting Task Group will first work to build participation in current benchmarking tools, providing a greater pool of data to strengthen the predictability model. Secondly, they will work to make the program customizable to users. Third and most importantly, the goal is to develop a program that is accurate and that users will find indispensable in their business planning. While the program will be an annual forecast most likely introduced each year at future NetworkASA conferences, the Forecasting Task Group is also reviewing plans to provide a monthly adjustment to the yearly forecast, making the model more actionable and dependable throughout the year. ASA PAC Raises More than $10,000 at Annual Fundraiser In keeping with the theme of NetworkASA 2011, a record number of members proved once again that they were “ALL IN”. Bringing in a total of $5,525 along with an additional pledge of $5,000, wholesale distributors and manufacturers proved the value they see in strengthening our association’s political muscle and helping to lay groundwork to increase our influence in Washington.Member-driven organizations such as ASA must rely on the generosity of members rather than by force, as is often the case with organized labor. “I’m so pleased to end my term as Government Affairs Chairman on this note, but this is not the end of our efforts, merely the beginning,” said Dennis Goode. As this year’s Fred V. Keenan Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Bradford White’s Nick Giuffre has long declared, “If you are in business, then you are in politics.” That is the mantra that ASA PAC and its overall advocacy efforts continue to operate by, continuing to make ASA “The Voice of the Industry”. As noted, while the calendar year may be drawing to a close, our political advocacy efforts will continue. We look forward to unveiling a series of tools to better assist our members participate in the democratic process. Some of those will include granting ASA the authorization to solicit through our website, www.asa.net, along with the ability to make direct deposit contributions each month rather than annual contributions. Weaver Selected as ASA President for 2012 ASA members recently selected Scott Weaver, President of APR Supply in Lebanon, PA, to serve as the 43rd President of the American Supply Association during the association’s recent Annual Convention in Las Vegas.“We have come a long way in a few short years to reinvigorate and refocus the American Supply Association,” said Weaver. “The past few years have been challenging for ASA, but as with any problems come opportunities and rewards. I wish to commend the ASA Board of Directors and staff for their steadfastness in seeking solutions and making the difficult decisions we all know are needed to set us on a positive future course,” Weaver commented as he addressed ASA members. He cited the work of the ASA Education Foundation Board of Trustees in building a robust educational experience. He also recognized the vision of the officers to engage the association full-time in the area of government affairs. These have been two critical areas for the reemergence of ASA’s relevance. Weaver also stressed benchmarking as a planned area of focus during his presidency throughout the upcoming year. “I visualize expanding ASA’s benchmarking tools into a forward-looking forecasting model,” said Weaver. “ASA does a great job of providing information on what is currently happening, and we will evolve into providing dependable information about what is about to happen,” he said. ASA President Kenny Challenges Members Moving Forward ASA President Bill Kenny presented members with a “parting challenge” during his President’s remarks to the membership at the group’s Annual Meeting and Member Lunch, held during NetworkASA 2011 Sept. 13-16 in Las Vegas. In his address, Kenny stated, “We have 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 in 2012 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 over 20%.Where do we go from here?” Kenny challenged members to come together and work side-by-side as an industry. He mentioned strongly promoting the “made in America” label, and the importance of continuing to influence opposition of unreasonable regulations in Washington. He also encouraged everyone to 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,” added Kenny. “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 together on our marketplace. The payback is tremendous!” he said. Walworth Supports ASA IPD Open House The ASA Industrial Piping Division Open House, held annually at NetworkASA, continues to grow in membership and support. Joining ASA as a sponsor for this year’s event is Walworth Valves. Walworth is a leading company in industrial valve manufacture for fluid control with facilities in Mexico, the USA and China. Walworth has all parts of the world within its reach, meeting the supply and demand of global customers. Walworth was founded in 1842 as a company at which the employees have a vast amount of experiences and dedication. Their personnel have kept them on the leading edge of design and innovation since that time. ASA thanks Walworth for their support — not only as an IPD Open House Sponsor, but for contributing to something that touches all of our lives. After all, the first two-way telephonic conversation took place thanks to Walworth’s collaboration. Alexander Graham Bell requested permission of Walworth to use the telegraph thread and try to establish a conversation. The experiment was a success. See what else they can do. To learn more about Walworth, please visit their website at www.walworthvalves.com.
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