The American Supply Association’s continued forward momentum was on full display at its recent 49th annual NETWORK 2018 event held at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess hotel and convention center in Scottsdale, Arizona.

During its Board of Directors meeting ASA reported net distributor membership growth for a seventh consecutive year. “Ten years ago our association was pretty much on life support,” 2018 ASA President Brian Tuohey (Collins Companies) said during the meeting. “What you see today is a vibrant, growing organization.”

Eastern Industrial Supplies’ Kip Miller, a past chairman of ASA’s Industrial Piping Division, added: “ASA is in one of its strongest positions ever in advancing our industry and being a great voice.”

On the educational front, ASA Education Foundation President Chris Fasano (TORRCO) reported training and educational platforms through ASA University continue to grow at a healthy pace. ASA University, Fasano reported, now has more than 150 manufacturer courses covering 26 manufacturer brands and overall ASA-U sales continue to climb. “We’re growing nicely thanks to the ASA University team and all their efforts,” he said.

Fasano noted the ASA-EF is in the midst of a campaign to raise an additional $3 million by 2020 for the Karl E. Neupert Endowment Fund. As of NETWORK 2018, that total already was at more than $750,000.

And continuing on the growth front, ASA Women in Industry Chairwoman Ashley Martin (NIBCO) reported the group has grown 20% in company membership to 128 and 23% in individual Women in Industry members to 399. ASA’s Emerging Leaders Division (formerly Young Executives) has grown from 75 attendees to its Spring Forum in 2012 to 180 that attended the 2018 event in New Jersey.


Educating the masses

One of the most anticipated sessions during NETWORK each year is the annual industry forecast, which was conducted in Arizona by ITR Economics’ Brian Beaulieu, who reported economic conditions still remain favorable.

“Anybody who isn’t feeling optimistic about this economy right now needs to up their (medication),” quipped Beaulieu, who drew a hearty laugh from the crowd. “What more do you want? This is good right now. At least in the near future, plan oan good things.”

Beaulieu did a of troubles down the road a bit. “If you are older than 57 years old you won’t have to go through that (Great Recession) again in your business careers,” he said. “If you are under 44 years old, my message to you is it stinks to be you. You will experience it, but it will be deeper, longer and worse.”

Beaulieu said companies should always be prepared for downturns. “You can see and measure bad things developing like storm clouds long before they happen,” he said. “It’s time for you and me to get our businesses, families and communities ready for it. You and I don’t have the power to avert that, but we do have the power to avoid it.”

Another interesting educational session saw guest speaker Daniel Burrus, who earlier had spoken on the topic of business process transformation, lead a panel discussion on staying relevant by keeping ahead of mega trends. The innovation-focused panel featured ASA consultant and Supply House Times columnist Dirk Beveridge, Chicago Tube & Iron’s Dr. Don McNeeley, Winsupply’s Roland Gordon and Dakota Supply Group’s Paul Kennedy. For full coverage of that next practices panel, visit


Changing Times

One key development to come out of NETWORK was the announcement that the regional Wholesalers Association of the North East (WANE) group would be dissolved and merged into ASA with the national association running it as ASA Northeast. The change was approved during WANE’s annual meeting at NETWORK.

“We did not come to this decision lightly,” Rochester (New York) Windustrial’s Rob Seiffert, WANE’s 2018 president, said during the board meeting. “We did this because the issues facing us today are very important. It’s best if we are aligned with one common voice that will offer very exciting programs.”

WANE’s movement to being ASA-run follows in the recent footsteps of the former PSDA (now Southwest Pacific Distributors) and MwDA (now Region 2 still serving ASA Midwest-based members) regional organizations going the same route.

ASA Vice President of Advocacy Jim Kendzel said the association’s annual legislative fly-in program will take on a new look under ASA’s revamped and expanded advocacy platform. With ASA’s landmark 50th anniversary slated for Washington, D.C., next fall, an association-wide fly-in will be held in conjunction with NETWORK 2019 in the nation’s capital. Kendzel said other tailored fly-ins are being discussed based on specific industry issues or even based on specific geographies (fly-ins centered on state-specific appointments).

In 2019, ASA also will debut it’s CONNECT events that will combine key networking opportunities along with subject-specific best-practices educational forums. The Showroom Managers CONNECT event occurs in February in Las Vegas, the Sales and Marketing CONNECT is scheduled for Baltimore, Maryland, in June, and the Human Resources CONNECT is slated for August in Rosemont, Illinois.


The winners please

ASA honored a host of its volunteer leaders in Scottsdale. Puget Sound Pipe & Supply’s Gary Stratiner is the recipient of the 2018 IPD Award of Excellence. Stratiner read off a host of names of individuals who both have won the IPD Award of Excellence in previous years and/or have made significant contributions to the industry.

“These men are the people I have learned so much from and greatly respect,” Stratiner said. “Without all of them, we might not have an IPD today let alone an active ASA. I honestly don’t know what I’ve done to win this award, but it does show I have earned the respect of many of my industry peers and for that I am eternally grateful.”

Also honored were NIBCO’s Ashley Martin (Women in Industry), Gerber-Danze’s Kevin McJoynt (Plumbing Division) and Winsupply-Chesapeake Noland Co.’s John Simmons (ASA Board of Directors) for their volunteer service to ASA.

Winners of ASA’s annual safety awards include Plumbing Distributors, Inc., Anvil International, Wolff Bros. Supply and Woodhill Supply.

NETWORK 2019, which celebrates ASA’s 50th anniversary, takes place Sept. 25-27 in Washington, D.C., at the Grand Hyatt.