ASA President Bill Condron (The Granite Group) spoke earlier this week to attendees of the North Central Wholesalers Association annual conference in Columbus, Ohio about the value the industry’s only national trade association is providing its members — many of whom were in attendance at the Renaissance Columbus Downtown Hotel.

Condron spoke to NCWA attendees mainly about the three initiatives that make up ASA’s Building One Future initiative, including the PROJECT VITALITY growth assessment tool for members and the ASA D.NEXT innovation lab at the University of Illinois, before focusing heavily on PROJECT TALENT and the ways ASA is helping members across the industry in their search for talent.

“What I call the base case for what ASA provides is strong and impressive on its own,” said Condron, who spoke about ASA’s advocacy/codes and standards, education and networking offerings before diving into the Building One Future programs. “If ASA provided just the base case, it would be a very vibrant and very important and critical organization to our industry. What I find impressive is what Mike Adelizzi (ASA CEO) and his team have done. They didn’t stop there. They challenged themselves to move into the next level and provide even more value to their members.”

Condron said the labor shortage in the industry must continue to be addressed.

“ASA is leading the way for our industry to find ways to add talented people to our organizations,” he said. “It’s the No. 1 problem we are all dealing with. We can’t get enough people in our organizations. We are further stymied because collectively we are the worst marketers ever. I and every one of you goes for the cheap laugh when someone asks you what you do. ‘I sell toilets.’ Hah-hah and then you move on. We miss the opportunity to talk about what an incredible industry this is. You all know this. Collectively, it’s a great industry filled with a ton of career opportunities, and yet we don’t do a very good job marketing and we hamstring ourselves.

“PROJECT TALENT is helping with that by investing in social media by having hundreds of thousands page clicks (to where ASA member companies can post open jobs) that lead to 50,000 unique visitors who are learning about our industry and learning about ways to get involved, and learning about what career paths and opportunities are available to people if they just knew what we had going on. That is what PROJECT TALENT provides our industry and each of our individual member companies.”

Condron noted the networking component and what it provides attendees of events such as the NCWA conference and ASA’s recently held Women in Industry and Emerging Leaders national conferences provides even further, longer-lasting value.

“Networking gets us all together,” he said. “It gives us the opportunities to learn from each other in venues where we can share best practices in an honest way, and more importantly than that, it’s what we are able to do when we get back to the office — the ability to pick up the phone and call someone you made a connection with and say, hey, I’m struggling with this issue. What is your team doing about it?

Condron then reflected on his previous two stops: ASA’s Women in Industry ELEVATE conference in Louisville in April and ASA’s Emerging Leaders’ EMERGE conference in New Orleans last months.

“I think about being able to witness what was going on at ASA Women in Industry where we had more than 200 women there (in Louisville) who were active and vibrant and supportive of what this industry is doing for them, and then you layer on what I saw in New Orleans with Emerging Leaders where you had more than 160 new and vibrant and young leaders in our organizations and in our industry, and here (at NCWA) where distributors and manufacturers and reps are partnering together to learn more about their businesses. And then you layer on what ASA is doing for all of us and I couldn’t be more excited about where this industry is today and where we can collectively be going forward.”

Also during the lunch session, NCWA President Joe Sakofske (Advance Plumbing Supply) presented Condron with a donation from NCWA to ASA’s Political Action Committee.