I am very much looking forward to serving as your new ASA president, but even more so grateful to do so at this time when my family and my business has had so much to celebrate in our 125th year of operation.
For starters, I must say thank-you to the First Supply leadership team and to my family — your support gives me the time to serve in this role.
I have the distinct privilege of consulting not one but two past ASA presidents’ material this year. While much has changed from when my uncle, Ed Felten, was ASA president in 1994, and my father, Joe Poheling, was president in 2008, some things do remain the same.
I am honored to continue to carry on their legacy of service to our industry and to do so at this time when I believe, in many ways, this is our moment.
Incoming freight charges are exploding, in today’s economy you have to look at all expenses, the new construction market is softening but home renovations continue to do well — all things you might have said in the past week, but also all quotes from Joe’s introductory article in Supply House Times back in 2007.
While much uncertainty in the economy is ahead, we know we’ve been in this position before and we know we can weather any changes ahead. It will be increasingly important to harness the power of not only our industry trade association, but also the power of the organizations across our industry working together collectively, cooperatively and complementary as buying groups, adjacent industry organizations, and regions to support our overall industry strength.
One of the most meaningful ways our organization has found power in ASA is through advocacy. During NETWORK2022 in Chicago in November, which during election week and during Veteran’s Day, I stumbled across an article Ed Felten wrote in the early 90s — 30 years ago — titled “Freedom is Not Free.” He was an outstanding writer and told the story of his visits during an ASA legislative fly-in to the Korean and Vietnam War memorials in Washington.
He wrote: “These two monuments honor more than 100,000 men and women of my generation. They paid the ultimate price to see that our system of government — as screwed up and inefficient as it is —continues on.”
His message was that regardless how daunting our participation in the process might be, it’s nothing compared to those whose participation is absolute. Twenty-five years later, Joe reminded us all that it’s a given that ASA is going to advocate for the best interests of our members, we always have, whatever the future holds.
“This is our moment. The whole wide, exciting world is thinking about supply chain in an entirely different way and our industry is a significant part of that.”
And we continue to do so today – I have served on the ASA Government Affairs Committee, taking over for another uncle, Dave Prahler, when he retired.
Get involved. Learn about the issues. You won’t find a better platform to do so than ASA.
I’ll close with a story that shows me everything I need to know about the collective strength and power of our industry that I’m looking forward to promoting this year.
It’s the story of a pair of earrings that I treasure. I chose them very purposely to wear at NETWORK in Chicago this year because they are a meaningful symbol to me — not because of their cost or how precious they are, but because of how I acquired them.
A number of years ago Joe and I traveled to Asia to visit the operations of A. O. Smith and Kohler. The global headquarters of both of these companies are literally within about 40 miles from my home outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin, so why would we need to visit the other side of the world to meet with them?
Our relationships with both of A. O. Smith and Kohler go back to the very beginnings of our company. Through the Great Depression, the Great Recession and multiple pandemics, we have been partners and friends. So, the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the global impact our industry and our industry partners have was an extraordinarily powerful way to further our collective strength. These earrings represent all of that to me in this moment.
I’ll leave you with a challenge and a story about my three-year-old daughter, Frances. As I was leaving for NETWORK in Chicago this past November, I told Frances, “I get to take a train to work today!”
“Oh,” she said, “I wish I was taking a train with you.”
“Where do you want to go? I asked, thinking she’d reference some fictional place from one of the numerous kids shows that involve trains.
“Mom,” she said. “I want to see the whole wide, exciting world!”
An answer I couldn’t have been prouder of (and couldn’t have been more intrigued by how that got into her little head).
But I replied, “I promise, Frances, we will see the whole, wide exciting world together.”
So, I leave you with my challenge — this is our moment. the whole wide, exciting world is thinking about supply chain in an entirely different way and our industry is a significant part of that.
When you come to events this year, when you schedule meetings with customers, vendors, reps and others, bring someone with you.
Even better, someone who maybe wouldn’t have an opportunity to attend otherwise. Show them how powerful our industry is.
Show them, in this moment, our whole wide, exciting world.