It’s easy to rest on your laurels when things are going well. Some may not think to stretch your organization out of fear that you will get in the way of a “good thing.” Remember the old adage — “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

I have been involved with ASA for well over a decade and I can safely say that our association is always looking to the horizon. We look to see any potential threats to our members and our association. We seek opportunities to serve our membership in new and innovative ways. Through our strong core of volunteer leaders and staff, we are constantly and consistently reviewing our bold strategic plan to ensure our relevance and value to our membership.

In that timeframe, ASA invested more than $6 million in new programs and services to support our members. ASA has expanded its value with an expanded educational program, enhanced business intelligence reports, an emerging advocacy program and highly engaging networking programs. Our members are sharing their support and accolades. More so, I recently attended a buying group meeting and participated in conversations where members were extolling the benefits of ASA. What better than to have ASA members sharing our success!  

Several years ago, we engaged volunteers to look beyond our success and to identify where we need to go next.  Everyone knows the famous Wayne Gretzky quote about going to where the puck is going to be. What is going to disrupt us and where do we need to invest to support our members? After all, most members are deeply focused on running their businesses, and there is little time to think about “what’s next.”  

That discussion prompted ASA to embark on a journey to support what our volunteers identified as the biggest issues facing their futures: Attracting new talent.

Five years ago, we saw major disruption coming as an ASA survey estimated the retirement of half of our labor force over the next 20 years. The pandemic rapidly escalated this trend. Luckily, we began to invest ASA staff and financial resources to develop tools and support to build our industry’s brand and attract those new workers.

The results have been staggering: ASA reached more than 2 million people through social media ads promoting the great career opportunities in our industry.  More than 22,000 clicked on our ads and visited our Supply Industry Careers website at where they are directed to ASA member websites. Our marketing team is expanding our reach by leveraging individual member success stories.   

Creating a buzz and having the tools for members is one part of the solution. ASA also launched a monthly careers newsletter to educate and share best practices to attract workers.

In 2020, we built the D.NEXT Innovation Lab on the campus of the University of Illinois. This program has already started to provide members with insight on customer trends to help us respond more quickly to changing markets. One particular project worth noting looks at how our industry’s major competitors are competing for our customers’ business. The lab also researched how other industries are engaging customers with the goal of supporting ASA members in their own sales efforts.

Most recently, we introduced the VITALITY Growth Assessment Tool in an effort to help our members build one exciting future for their companies.  

Few trade associations can rival ASA’s dedication to the success of its members. This is the result of a strong focus on ASA’s four core values: Networking, benchmarking, advocacy and education. It’s also the product of our commitment to continually look not only at today but almost more importantly, looking to tomorrow.