One of the things that makes ASA such a progressive and dynamic association is the involvement of so many industry volunteers engaging in the strategic planning process each year.  

The ASA Winter Leadership Meeting in February brings together more than 70 volunteers from the nation’s distributor, manufacturer and manufacturers representative ranks, and puts them in a room together for a few days to discuss how to make ASA more relevant to our members and their success. ASA volunteers help provide the direction for the association so that ASA’s professional staff can then implement the programs that will most benefit our members.

Over the past few years, ASA leadership has focused on developing programs that will protect our industry’s future. An exciting result from last year’s winter meeting was the development of our D.Next initiative, which in 2019 put in place a vice president of technological innovation for ASA (Beth Ladd), and in 2020 ASA will move forward to establish an innovation lab on the University of Illinois campus. 

The D.Next lab will bring student interns together with volunteers from ASA member companies to drive innovation toward developing valuable business solutions.  

Also at this February’s winter meeting, ASA leadership will vet a proposal for our Talent initiative that aims to create videos and other marketing collateral that promotes career opportunities available in our industry. Our members will then be able to use these recruiting tools to attract new talent into our companies. ASA is mounting a “Future Fund” campaign to help offset the ongoing costs of these programs, and the leadership believes these programs will help ASA sustain our industry members’ success as we face the uncertainty of the future.

While ASA is actively focused on our industry’s future needs, at the same time the association is committed to addressing the needs that are most relevant to our members in the present in the areas of business intelligence, education, government advocacy and networking.  In the last few winter meetings, ASA identified that there is a diverse spectrum of programming needs depending on the size and lifecycle goals of the member.  

For this reason, the volunteers at this year’s winter meeting will review all current ASA’s program offerings and take steps to assess the engagement level of members in these programs so that we can be more targeted and improve these offerings.  Also, the leadership will compare the ASA programs offered against the spectrum of member needs to make sure the program offering is covering the diverse interests and needs of the membership.

In the coming months, I will be highlighting many of our ASA programs and sharing how our members are using ASA programs in their businesses to improve their customer and employee experiences.  In the end, the success measure of ASA is the value our members obtain from implementing ASA programs in their businesses.  

My goal as president for 2020 is to help drive ASA programs deeper and deeper into our member organizations so more of our members’ employees and customers are getting the full benefit of ASA membership. I like to say it’s time for our members to “get in the game.” 

To our distributor, manufacturer and manufacturers representative friends not currently affiliated with the American Supply Association, we invite you to join ASA and the hundreds of firms and professionals who have found the comfort of knowing that you do not have to build your business alone.  

The American Supply Association can be a strong partner in navigating the challenges we all face, and ASA programs can support your company’s team to achieve new levels of success in 2020.