For more than a decade, ASA has steadily expanded the value of the national association through creating a vision of success and allocating resources to move ASA and its members forward toward an envisioned future. The result has been a steady introduction of programs and services that support the success of the association’s members. In 2018, the leadership of ASA began focusing its attention toward thinking about the challenges facing association members that were too big for any one member to confront alone, and what would be needed to help members win the future. The leadership 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 (ISATS) to think deep about solutions to the three biggest issues facing the industry over the next 10 years. These three ISAT teams met throughout 2018 and early 2019, and at the 2019 Winter Leadership Meeting held in Dana Point California, nearly 100 association volunteers heard reports from all three ISATs on how ASA could address these issues and support ASA membership to win in the future. The three questions that these teams addressed were:

  1. What would it take to recruit 60,000 to 100,000 employees with the needed competencies to help association members win?

  2. What can ASA do to catalyze growth-oriented members to strategically and successfully transform their companies with technology?

  3. What can ASA do to help members not only survive but thrive by raising their awareness of how they are positioned for the future, and provide the tools and resources that lead them to a viable and relevant future?

At the 2019 Winter Meeting in Dana Point, the ASA Board of Directors and leadership approved moving forward to develop creative and comprehensive solutions that will enable members to win in the future. The three visionary solutions presented and approved are called D.NEXT, Project TALENT and VITALITY.

D.NEXT will provide a comprehensive set of resources to ensure ASA members invest in technologies that deliver solutions their customers will value. Wherever the member is in their technology journey, through this new program, they will find solutions to develop the mindset, clarity, and strategies to profitably transform their business. Central to the D.NEXT platform is the new D.NEXT Innovation Lab that will open at Research Park in partnership with the University of Illinois. For ASA members this means they will have unprecedented access to technologists, data scientists, engineers and others focused on viable technology solutions for their businesses. At this facility, ASA will collaborate with University of Illinois students and faculty to develop industry-leading digital capabilities that strengthen our member’s position in the supply chain. The ASA Innovation Lab will be a hub of industry, supplier, distributor and technology company alliances that fund prioritized digital innovations that will be available exclusively to ASA members. In addition to the Innovation Lab, The D.NEXT platform of services also provides ASA members with needed resources to guide them along their technology transformation journey.

Project TALENT was introduced as a significant long-term solution to provide members with the talent capable of driving success. Project TALENT encompasses a threefold effort that includes crafting an industry narrative that resonates with potential hires, helping ASA 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. Our board approved the first steps to explore launching a national campaign that will have short-term success as longer image-building and outreach efforts are created, tested and deployed. 

VITALITY will support ASA members’ ability to act strategically in today’s rapidly changing business environment. Looking critically at their business, culture and strategic direction beyond today, is imperative to the future success and competitive ability of ASA members. VITALITY and the suite of tools that will be developed will allow business leaders to address the urgent needs of preparing their businesses for success in today’s dynamic market. VITALITY 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, by using research-based tools and best-practice platforms for growth, profitability and long-term sustainability. VITALITY is being created for all ASA members including small local businesses, regional players and national enterprises.

D.NEXT, Project TALENT and VITALITY are big, bold, long-term solutions to our industry’s three most pressing concerns that will require commitment to raise the resources to sustain these efforts over the long haul for our members to be successful. These are resources beyond ASA’s current capability to sustain this effort. Therefore,  ASA is establishing a $1.3-million Future Fund and will fund it each year for the next five years to provide the needed resources that will be required to support D.NEXT, VITALITY and, especially, Project TALENT.  “Establishing a $1.3 million Future Fund isn’t unprecedented to our association,” ASA President Steve Cook said. “Twenty years ago ASA established a $10 million Karl Neupert Education Fund to support our effort to provide training programs to support our members. Twenty years later, our training. Members cite ASA University as the No. 1 value we offer.”

“The issues and the disruption that companies in our industry will face are daunting. The solutions that our leadership have approved are extremely big and bold requiring a major commitment. $1.3 million is a big number,” ASA CEO Mike Adelizzi said. “However, if we are successful in getting these initiatives funded and launched, ASA and our membership will be well positioned to win in the future.”

> For more information about ASA’s Building One Future effort and its three mega initiatives, contact Mike Adelizzi at