A huge thank you to all who were able to attend ASA NETWORK in Chicago recently. And there were many who did — we broke the record for the biggest ASA NETWORK event ever!

NETWORK2022 attracted a record 850 people to the Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park hotel in downtown Chicago for three days filled with top-notch education and networking opportunities.

Attending the many meetings, roundtables and panel discussions, it was clear that our industry and our association are both in a great spot. We have a lot of wind at our back right now, coming off a couple of unique years — no different than other industries emerging from the pandemic.

The difference for us: ASA member businesses have emerged stronger and our national trade association is as strong as it has ever been.

NETWORK attracting 850 people (a nearly 200-person increase from the previous year) speaks to where the association is and where our industry is overall. It’s proof positive that we find value in gathering together for a great event like NETWORK.

I have been fortunate this past year to have traveled the country as ASA president and was able to speak to many different groups. Each time, I talked about what I call the base case for what ASA delivers to its members, which is impressive on its own. From its educational offerings through ASA University, to the many great networking opportunities (through events such as NETWORK, Women in Industry’s ELEVATE conference and the Emerging Leaders’ EMERGE event), as well as the many important benchmarking and business intelligence reports, plus the yeoman’s effort being put forth by ASA on the government affairs and codes and standards front, it’s clear ASA is delivering for its members.

And if ASA stopped there, it would continue to be a vibrant and critically important organization to our industry. But what I find most impressive is that CEO Mike Adelizzi and his team didn’t stop there. They challenged themselves to move to the next level and provide even more value to their members.

At NETWORK, you heard a panel discussion on PROJECT VITALITY, one of ASA’s key long-term strategic initiatives. Simply put, PROJECT VITALITY is a way to let members in an organization ask themselves where they sit on a spectrum, ranging from more of a lifestyle business to a more progressive company. To be clear, one of the important aspects of PROJECT VITALITY is that it’s perfectly appropriate to be on either end of the spectrum. The key is this tool gives your organization a chance to self-reflect and see if you are where you want to be on that spectrum. And if you are looking to change, PROJECT VITALITY can help with that.

We also heard during the InSinkErator ASA annual member lunch about ASA’s PROJECT TALENT platform, now spearheaded by Steve Edwards, our new recruitment marketing director. Through the PROJECT TALENT platform, ASA is helping our industry find ways to add talented people into our organizations — a monumentally critical pain-point for many companies doing business in the PHCP-PVF supply chain at the current moment.

Let’s face it, we don’t help ourselves here. When we are asked what we do for a living, many of us (myself included) go for the cheap laugh and say, “We sell toilets,” and thus trade a cheap laugh for a missed opportunity. We pass on the chance to talk about how incredible this industry is and how it is filled with amazing people and limitless opportunities.

PROJECT TALENT helps with this by investing in social media, driving hundreds of thousands of page clicks to SupplyIndustryCareers.com that has led to 50,000 unique visitors who are learning about what great career paths and opportunities await them. We know we are fortunate to work in an incredible industry. PROJECT TALENT is helping us tell that story to a whole new group of prospective team members.

As I reflect back on the last year as ASA president, it’s clear to me that our national trade association continues to provide a ton of value and resources to all its members. When you add these new, important initiatives, there is no doubt that ASA is leading its members and our industry forward.

Incoming ASA President Katie Poehling Seymour (First Supply) put it best during her remarks at NETWORK: “This is our moment.”

Indeed, it is!

Thanks for a great year and my best to you and your families this holiday season,