When life gives us a detour, it is easy to get sidetracked from reaching our destination without a roadmap. This year’s novel coronavirus has proven to be an extraordinary chuckhole; one that our industry is still navigating. 

When plumbers and other tradespeople were identified as “essential critical infrastructure workers” earlier this year, the American Supply Association’s unwavering promise to help members adapt, grow and succeed unified the industry during challenging times — without losing sight of the road ahead. 

For ASA, that path forward is outlined in its 10-year strategic plan, Building One Future. In that plan, ASA identified three critical issues facing its membership, including closing the skilled labor gap and transforming its member companies through technology. Bold solutions to these issues require leveraging partnerships and building trusted relationships. At NIBCO, we are proud to be an ASA Platinum Supplier Partner, and are committed to technological advances that help contractors and wholesale partners be successful.

This year alone, technology has played an unequivocal role in NIBCO’s success in how we communicate and educate, while overcoming travel restrictions and avoiding in-person meetings. When it became impossible to conduct onsite product training sessions in the spring, NIBCO turned its video studio into a live virtual training classroom, making it convenient, interactive and collaborative to learn. 

We continue to provide instructional 30-60-minute training sessions on topics, including press installation methods and valve selection basics. Each session is recorded, and a link to the live recording is sent to each customer for future reference. 

We also relied on new technology to make it easier for customers to do business with us. In September, NIBCO successfully launched its new NIBCO Partner app, empowering customers with new technology options, making it easier to do business with us through a mobile device. Smart solutions for those who require mobility and access to their account anytime, anywhere and from any device. With the Partner app, customers have 24/7 access to their account to search and browse products, check product availability, confirm current pricing, place an order, and check order/shipping status. Not only has this helped wholesalers be more efficient, it has also helped them be more responsive to their customers.

Looking towards the future, it is important to look in the rearview mirror to see what this past year has taught us and adjust accordingly. It is evident that our industry is resilient to what twists and turns may come our way — including a global pandemic. 

By forging strategic partnerships, leveraging ASA and member resources, and being adept to problem-solving, together we can create winning solutions even when the ride gets a little bumpy.