In 2018, the American Supply Association’s leadership began focusing its attention toward thinking about the challenges facing association members that were too large for one member to confront alone.

ASA’s leadership identified solutions to help members win In the future, and then expanded its thinking about how ASA members and the industry as a whole would be challenged and disrupted.

To provide clarity and a vision about what was coming, ASA engaged three issue strategic action teams to dive deep into solutions to the three identified biggest issues facing the PHCP-PVF industry over the next decade.

And recently ASA’s Board of Directors and leadership gave the green light to move forward with these vital initiatives, and develop creative and comprehensive solutions that will enable members to win long-term In their businesses.

As chronicled in the pages of Supply House Times, the three ISATs met throughout 2018 and early 2019, culminating in presentations at ASA’s Winter Leadership Meeting in Dana Point, California. There, nearly 100 association volunteers heard reports from the ISATs on: 1) What it would take to recruit, over the next decade, 60,000 to 100,000 employees with the needed competencies to ensure leadership succession and a pipeline of qualified candidates to fill jobs, as anticipated workforce retirements threaten to gut the industry; 2) What can ASA do to spur growth-oriented members to transform their companies strategically and successfully through the use of technology; and 3) What can ASA do to raise members’ awareness about their positioning for the future, and what tools/resources can the association provide that will yield a viable and relevant future for members.

D.NEXT: On the technology front, D.NEXT will provide comprehensive resources, enabling ASA members to invest in technologies that deliver customer-valued solutions. Through this new program, members will develop the mindset, clarity and strategies to transform their businesses profitably, ASA stated. Central to the D.NEXT platform is the new ASA Innovation Lab that will open at Research Park in partnership with the University of Illinois.

ASA noted the Innovation Lab will be a hub of industry, supplier, distributor and technology company alliances that fund prioritized digital innovations, available exclusively to ASA members. ASA members will have unprecedented access to technologists, data scientists, engineers and others focused on viable technology solutions for business, it added. Additionally, ASA will collaborate with University of Illinois faculty and students to develop industry-leading digital capabilities that strengthen its members’ supply-chain positions. ASA added the D.NEXT platform of services will provide ASA members with needed resources to guide them along their technology transformation journeys.

Project TALENT: ASA’s Project TALENT is a significant long-term solution to provide members with the talent capable of driving success, it explained. Project TALENT encompasses a threefold effort that includes crafting an industry narrative that resonates with potential hires, helping member companies prepare their organizations to effectively attract, recruit and retain the needed labor force, and orchestrating local and national outreach efforts that drive awareness about long-term career opportunities. ASA’s board approved the first steps to explore launching a national campaign that it feels will have short-term success as longer image-building and outreach efforts are created, tested and deployed.

VITALITY: This initiative will support ASA members’ ability to act strategically in a rapidly changing environment. ASA noted VITALITY and the suite of tools that will be developed will allow business leaders to address urgent needs in preparing for success in a dynamic market. It also, ASA added, will support a business leader’s ability to assess the state of their business, set meaningful goals and strategic plans for the future, and enhance their ability to execute that plan to meet their goals through research-based tools and best-practice platforms. ASA stressed this platform is being created for all ASA members from small, local businesses to national enterprises.

“The issues and disruption that companies in our industry face are daunting,” ASA CEO Mike Adelizzi said. “In response, the solutions our leadership has approved are extremely big and bold. I am confident our members and other industry stakeholders will step forward and help to fund these critical initiatives, positioning our industry for a successful future.”