Because I was a sports nut growing up, I got quite good at simple math. Hours upon hours of sneaking the scoreboard page of the Chicago Tribune sports section into my middle and high school classes led to me being able to recite almost any type of baseball batting average, as long as we were talking 20 at-bat increments (as in 2-for-7 in the series means a .286 average). One earned run allowed in four innings of work on the hill? That’s a 2.25 ERA.

Where things got complicated was figuring out NASL and MISL soccer goalies’ goals-against averages (because minutes get factored into the equation), and the preposterous NFL quarterback rating — not going to even try explaining that one.

Here at the American Supply Association, numbers also are a big deal, and ASA members are encouraged to get in on the fun through a pair of reports published by our business intelligence department.

For starters, ASA’s monthly Pulse sales report gives ASA distributor members a great snapshot of not only how the industry is doing overall, but also gives a good indication of how you are shaping up against the industry in areas such as sales, gross margin, inventory, average days sales outstanding, full-time-equivalent employees and year-to-date profit before taxes.

ASA member distributors receive the 10-page Pulse report on a monthly basis — critical data available to you with a click of a button or two.

As I write this, ASA’s business intelligence office also is in the process of gathering data for the annual ASA Operating Performance Report (OPR).

The OPR represents the most complete, accurate and up-to-date comparative financial performance data and 20-year trends published anywhere about the PHCP-PVF supply chain — the granddaddy of reports.

The OPR offers ASA member distributors the ability to monitor key performance areas, including: gross margin, asset and financial management, case management, invoice/transaction data, personnel productivity, inventory management, accounts receivable and payable, income statement, operating expense control, interest expense and operating profit, plus vendor rebates to net sales, balance sheet, sustainable growth and showroom operations. With that extensive amount of data, you can see why the yearly report is so extensive in length.

Two common questions we get about these surveys is time and data security. In terms of time, the surveys (as long as you have the data handy) do not involve a heavy time investment.

On the question of data security, ASA staff members never see an individual company’s data — we only know that your company participated. All data collection is done through ASA business intelligence partner Industry Insights, which has been working with ASA for more than 40 years. Data is entered by individual companies through the ASA Business Intelligence dashboard located here.

My advice to member distributor companies that have either never participated in the OPR or Pulse sales report surveys or maybe have taken a year or two off from reporting data is this: Take the time to fill out both surveys. You are not only providing a benefit to our industry and further legitimizing the report by adding to the sample size of it, but you will also benefit your own company by having access to this important benchmarking data that can be used to help you make critical decisions in your business.

For questions on either the OPR or monthly Pulse sales report, contact ASA Business Intelligence Analyst Ayesha Salman at

Come fly away!

Taking a page from the famous Frank Sinatra song, ASA is partnering with the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) to host a virtual legislative fly-in event on Wednesday, July 14.

In year’s past, ASA has held in-person fly-ins on Capitol Hill where members are able to meet with their elected officials. I have attended regular ASA fly-ins, a fly-in ASA did with the WIT buying group and two fly-ins in conjunction with our annual NETWORK conference in Washington. They remain highlights for me for the sheer fact I was able to see firsthand our government at work.

This year, ASA members will have the opportunity to meet with their members of Congress from the comfort of their own home or office via prearranged Zoom meetings to discuss such critical topics as estate tax, corporate tax rates and infrastructure improvements.

The in-person ASA fly-ins are can’t miss events. Now with the rare opportunity for you to participate in one of these events without having to hop on a plane and be away from your business, there is no better time to have your voice heard on critical issues affecting our industry.

For more information on the virtual fly-in, click here.