I hope you are well and spring is starting to bloom in your part of the country. I wanted to take a moment to update you on the ASA Winter Leadership Meeting held in February in Scottsdale, Arizona.

As an aside, spring had not yet sprung in the desert as it was 40 degrees and raining for the entire visit. When Boston has better weather in February, you know you are in a rough climate!

This was the first winter meeting we've been able to hold in person since we met in Orlando in February 2020, right before the world shut down. This year’s event included almost 100 ASA volunteer leaders from around the industry, including a great mix of wholesalers, manufacturers, reps, buying group executives and many others.

Thanks to all of those who took the time to attend. It was great to be able to get together again in person to see old friends and meet new ones. It was even more heartening to see so many people take time out of their very busy schedules to offer their insights and counsel to ASA.

I know we all realize what a great business we are in and talk often about how we have to do a better job of marketing ourselves to attract new people to our industry. And we should. But to see that many people commit their time to help their industry association find ways to provide even more value to the membership was remarkable. It’s also a profound reminder of the many great people we have in our business.

Now, what did we talk about? ASA CEO Mike Adelizzi asked the group for help on two different topics. The first was around whether ASA could create a repository of data for members to use as they build out eCommerce efforts. We all realize the need for a robust online offering as eCommerce continues to be a growing share of the market. However, as the group discussed and debated the topic, we realized how much more complex the situation is currently. Many wholesalers have already embarked on their digital journey and are somewhere down the line with their data needs. Others are members of buying groups that are attempting to provide this value on their own. In short, the group decided we needed to review the topic more deeply before making any sort of commitments as an association.

The next subject was around sustainable fundraising. ASA is constantly leading initiatives to help its members survive and thrive in the current marketplace. The recent mega initiatives around PROJECT TALENT, PROJECT VITALITY and the very innovative D-NEXT innovation lab that we host at the University of Illinois are great recent examples.

But all of these great initiatives need financing to get them off the ground. The volunteers worked through a great discussion around ways ASA could build a sustainable fund that could be used for these incredibly important programs for our members.

Overall, the time in the desert was extremely productive. More than anything, it always impresses me to see Mike and the team at ASA look for ways to continue to push themselves to provide even more value for their members. It is the sign of a very vibrant and valuable organization.

I know all the volunteers who joined me at this year’ winter meeting can attest to this and so can every current member of ASA.

And if you are not a member, for all the reasons shared above and so many more, please consider joining your industry association.

Be well,