So began our conversation when we sat down with Mark Whittington, executive vice president at Elkay Manufacturing to better understand why Elkay is so bullish on the American Supply Association.
Family-owned since 1920, Elkay has been making innovative plumbing products for nearly 100 years. Headquartered in Oak Brook, Ill., today Elkay delivers world-class sinks, faucets, foodservice fixtures, water coolers, drinking fountains and award-winning rapid bottle-filling stations, offering most of these products through ASA wholesalers. Best known for its classic stainless steel sinks that have been widely recognized as the “professional’s choice” for decades, the company has become the leading sink provider in the U.S. “The way I see it, Elkay owes our longevity and success to keeping pace with changing times,” Whittington says. “Be it new materials, channels or customers — you have to keep up with the changes that are taking place in the world. ASA is one way that we have been able to achieve this.”
Elkay participates in ASA and has supported the organization with funding and talent for many years. Company employees are actively involved in programs such as the plumbing and vendor committees, and on the association’s board of directors. Supporting the organization on so many levels is one way of giving back to ASA for the many membership benefits that Elkay has enjoyed over the years.
“ASA supports the industry in so many ways — and Elkay has benefited from the services it provides,” Whittington says. “Their education programs help industry newbies understand what it takes to thrive, and helps even the most seasoned professional keep abreast of changes in codes and standards, and the legislative and regulatory requirements that continue to reshape the plumbing, heating, cooling and industrial piping (PHCP) industries.”
Industry professionals also benefit from the national ASA event each year. That’s partly why at any given time, you’ll find Elkay employees from across the company actively engaged and participating in ASA programs. According to Whittington, they are not only learning and growing professionally through this engagement and gaining the critical business insights the company needs to succeed, but they are forging close professional relationships with customers and peers that will last throughout their careers.
ASA provides a forum for industry leaders from both the supplier and wholesale sides of the industry to collaborate to identify solutions to emerging marketplace issues, dealing with topics as diverse as best practices in inventory management, how to address lead in plumbing and how to maximize product recyclability. “Working through ASA, industry partners such as Elkay can provide meaningful leadership… proactively working to shape the issues that impact our industry – and impact the environment and the people in the communities where we live and work,” Whittington says.
“I would be remiss not to mention the important role that ASA plays in influencing the public policies that affect our industry and protect our communities at the national level,” he adds.
ASA serves as the industry’s voice in Washington, advocating for legislative and regulatory policies that serve the public’s best interests, informed by the know-how, wisdom, and experience of long-standing association members.
“ASA has been a part of my career for many years,” Whittington continues. “Another reason that I feel so positive about the organization is how they give back – not only to our professionals here at Elkay but the community as a whole. Whether it is Operation Rise and Conquer which supports our nation’s wounded veterans or ASA’s support for organizations such as Hiring our Heroes, WorldVision or Dress for Success, ASA and its member companies show a real passion for making a positive impact on the world. Elkay has a long-standing commitment to giving back to our communities, so this aspect of ASA represents a real cultural fit for us.”
Good industry groups can be hard to find,” Whittington said in closing. “Many provide good networking and connections. And don’t get me wrong, those are important. But you know you’ve found an exceptional organization when they help you and your company stay ahead of the winds of change that continually drive your business. The plumbing industry is lucky to have ASA in our corner.”