When I think of the word resilient, our first beagle dog immediately comes to mind.
As many of you know, we have three amazingly ill-behaved, yet spectacularly loved female beagles. In fact, we’ve run with a crew of three females (male beagles tend to howl a lot) for the past 13 years, ever since we rescued now 14-year-old Fenway after her previous owner threw her to the side of the road in a rainstorm when she was a puppy.
But Chase, the original beagle, will always have her place in the resiliency hall of fame. Diagnosed with liver cancer at age 10, Chase survived a tough surgery and the acute pancreatitis that followed and threatened her life. When I first started at BNP Media more than a decade ago, I would go into the office and then up to the pet hospital on the north shore of Chicago to visit her. That went on for two weeks. She ended up with two more quality years of life.
That word resiliency has been used frequently during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly when it comes to American Supply Association member companies and their employees.
If you have watched my ASA Town Hall Interview Series over the past five months (if you haven’t, head over to YouTube and punch in American Supply Association), you have seen resiliency on full display. During every interview there are examples of how ASA member companies, instead of throwing their hands up, have rallied their staffs and rolled out innovative contingencies and programs that have kept business rolling during these tough times.
A key example: Patrick Maloney, vice president of sales at Beaumont, Texas-based Coburn Supply, brought up how after a particularly strong storm, a Coburn employee took to social media to let customers know that a particular branch had generators in stock. Maloney reports that simple innovative idea resulted in multiple generator sales.
We also have heard how ASA member companies have pivoted when it comes to remote working — something, based on the relationship aspect of our industry, was not widely utilized pre-pandemic. The consensus: Remote working and virtual meetings can and do work, and now can be key components of our business toolbox going forward. (I bet you wish you bought stock in Zoom.)
The numbers also show ASA member resiliency. While different parts of the country certainly were hit hard from a business standpoint at the onset of the pandemic, overall ASA’s latest Quarterly Pulse sales report (for Q2) shows that member distributors are holding their own. The Q3 Pulse report will give us even more insight into how members are bouncing back.
Here at ASA, resilience probably isn’t the exact word to use to describe us during the pandemic. Instead, I’d characterize it as shifting into fifth gear and putting the pedal to the floor. In addition to the Town Hall Interview Series that gives members a boots-on-the-ground inside look at how ASA companies have been operating during the pandemic, ASA Chief Economist Dr. Chris Kuehl now is delivering monthly economic update webinars. Dr. Kuehl also started a weekly 10-minute-or-less podcast that zeroes in on specific economic trends and market segments (commodities being a key one). Both the economic update webinars and the quick-hit podcasts (great to listen to on the way into work!) can be found on the member’s only MY ASA page at www.asa.net.
We’ve also increased our overall educational component, not only with the continued outstanding work of ASA’s Education Foundation and the ASA University platform (see story on ASA University on Page 20 of this issue), but with targeted webinars focused on sales, safety and leadership topics. Our Connect virtual groups that bring together ASA member employees in like critical job functions to tackle common challenges have been smash hits.
Our business intelligence offering, certainly another key benefit for ASA members, continues to expand (Check out ASA President Bill Glockner’s great column on our business intelligence offerings on Page 37).
And let’s not forget about NETWORK2020 pivoting to a virtual format Oct. 7-8. Page 40 has all the details on what is certain to be a memorable and beneficial event for all attendees. A David Kohler keynote, a unique virtual trade show and virtual wholesaler-distributor and vendor conference appointments are a few of the many highlights that await attendees. Registration is open at www.asa.net/Networking/NETWORK2020-VIRTUAL.
As we continue to advance further into the resiliency stage of the pandemic, there’s one thing, as the late, great Chicago sportscaster Chet
Coppock would say, you can take to the bank:
Never bet against ASA members — not even in a global pandemic.