What will the ASA member look like in 2027 as it faces the onslaught of rapid and uncertain change from customer demands all driven by technology and a dramatically shrinking labor pool? Last December and again in January, the American Supply Association convened a small group of thought-leaders to serve as a think tank to dive deep into the critical issues that members will face over the coming decade and to present their findings to the association’s Strategic Leadership Team. Using the findings from the think tank sessions, nearly 70 volunteers dove deep into numerous issues from developing our human capital, staying ahead of technology and identifying a life-cycle spectrum of a distributor and how the association can serve the wide-ranging needs of a membership, with limited resources to move them forward in uncertain times.

Members openly debated the issues that are putting the relevance of our members’ futures at risk. The most significant theme included the speed of change of a disruptive technology; the dramatic shift of customer needs and requirements; the concentration of power due from a consolidating industry; a dramatic loss of institutional knowledge from the retiring of nearly half the industry’s labor force; greater political and institutional polarization from established government structure and aggressive competition of channel partners and threats from non-traditional channel disruptors

A bold vision began to emerge during the two days — Building One Future. To move forward, the association will continue the momentum by convening strategic focus groups, each concentrating on the most pressing issues, how best to solve those problems facing our members, identify the funding needed and how to measure our success over the coming years. Ten years ago at the first planning retreat, the volunteers who participated looked far into the future to assess the possible threats that the members would face in that future. Today, the leadership once again has looked far into the future to identify the threats that must be met head on. As the only organization uniquely positioned to unite the industry into a focused force for change, ASA is unified in stepping forward to meet the challenge.