ASA President Steve Cook: A big year ahead
It is a true honor to have been chosen to be your ASA national president for 2019, which is our association’s 50th year leading our industry.
I would like to thank my wife, Drew, my daughter, Stephanie, and my son, Halsey, for allowing me to serve, and for being away from home a few more days than I already am. I’d also like to thank the entire Northeastern Supply team for its willingness to pick up the slack while I’m on the road for ASA.
Few trade associations make it to the milestone of representing an industry for half a century. Looking back 50 years and thinking about the leadership of the old Central Supply Association and the American Institute of Supply Associations that were operating in our industry at that time, I respect the courage, vision and self-sacrifice that was necessary to move forward and unify for the betterment of the industry.
We recently witnessed that same type of vision and leadership as the members of WANE, our northeast regional affiliate, voted to merge into ASA instead of being an independent region. They chose to do so because they believed it would be more valuable to the industry to consolidate their operating efforts with the exciting things happening at ASA. WANE wasn’t forced to do this. Instead, it believed that ASA is investing more than ever into programs to directly help its members, and the time was right to roll up and strengthen ASA’s overall position.
I applaud WANE’s leadership and vision. Because of them, ASA just got stronger. I would also like to recognize that same degree of vision that the leadership of our Midwest group, the MWD, which just three years ago became the first region to merge with ASA, as well as the members of the old southwestern group, and the old PSDA (now SWPD), which earlier this year voted to merge into ASA as well. We applaud their vision and leadership in strengthening our national association.
Our work is not yet done, and in many ways is only beginning. I look forward to continuing to strengthen ASA’s position as the true voice of our entire industry.
It is clear to me that no organization is positioned as well to lead as ASA is. I am excited to hear our strategic action teams currently are hard at work and will present to us next month at our Winter Leadership Meeting. They will reveal their plans to solve the critical issues facing all of us. ASA has thrived over the past decade by challenging itself to think big and to think long-term. We have done exactly that.
We are the leader of this industry. We are the leaders in advocating for reasonable codes and standards, regulation and legislation. We are the leaders in providing critical data through our Business Intelligence programs. And we are the leaders in the recruiting, training and retaining of our labor force. Finally, we are the leaders in networking among our future leaders. Our Emerging Leaders and Women in Industry divisions bring nearly 400 of our next generation of leaders together to learn and challenge one another. These two exciting programs continue to grow, and this bodes well for the future of our industry.
With so much accomplished over the past 10 years, it would be easy for ASA to take its foot off the throttle and just coast for a while. But that just doesn’t work for us. Instead we challenge ourselves to help you remain relevant and successful. I am happy to report that next year we will introduce you to CONNECT, a national networking and educational program that will connect you and your key employees with leaders and experts in the areas of sales and marketing, operational excellence, HR and training and best practices in leadership.
We know that in order to impact the future of our industry, we need to drive our value deep into your company, and connect with your key employees through robust and professional programs.
It’s fitting that as we celebrate our 50th anniversary as a national association, we are focusing intensely on the next 10 years and the next half-century of success. Your leadership team already has started planning next year’s annual convention in Washington, D.C., to formally celebrate our 50 years of success.
We already have approved an expanded program that will include a special evening at the Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum where distributors, manufacturers and manufacturers representatives can come together for a great evening and celebrate all that we have accomplished. This should be pretty cool! I hope to see you all there!
It’s an exciting time to be leading our association. I am honored by the confidence you have placed in me and our association’s volunteers and staff. Together, we will build ONE FUTURE.