The Southwest Pacific Distributors (SWPD), an affiliate of ASA, held its annual awards dinner in Long Beach, California, the evening of Oct. 5.

The history of SWPD, formerly the Pacific Southwest Distributors Association, goes as far back as 1946 — more than 75 years.

The group’s Distributor of the Year Award was first given in 1962. This strong tradition of networking, friendship and family was highlighted throughout this year's dinner. The dinner is always well attended, and this year was no exception with more than 300 distributors, manufacturers, manufacturers’ representatives and family members in attendance.

The SWPD Advisory Council was pleased to welcome Katie Poehling Seymour, president and CEO of Madison, Wisconsin-based First Supply and the 2023 ASA president, as the guest speaker.

"The SWPD dinner was the perfect place to round out my regional visits," she said. "While each region is unique with its own priorities and culture, the power of our industry coming together to celebrate, collaborate and sometimes even commiserate is the true strength of our national association. The awards given in Long Beach were heartfelt and truly honored their recipients. It was a thrill to experience. I believe our industry is thriving with a vibrancy I see continuing for years to come."

Poehling Seymour provided attendees her perspective on our industry as well as the value of ASA.

"What I’ve heard from members over the last year is that we are strong – our industry is thriving," she said. "But we need support in some critical areas – our workforces, policy and preparing for the future. ASA is uniquely positioned to address these and other things facing our industry."

Poehling Seymour went on to highlight the following ASA strategic initiatives:

  • Project Talent is ASA’s primary project to tackle the future of workforce development in the industry.
  • Advocacy is one of the founding pillars of ASA. As an organization, having that unified voice to represent our membership across the supply chain in all areas of policy whether it be government or codes and standards is critical to our future.
  • Embracing the Future involves supporting member businesses through succession planning, best practices in strategic planning, and our membership’s ability to look forward and engage effectively.
  • Operational Excellence and ASA’s business intelligence tools are best in class, especially the monthly economic report and the monthly sales data.

Poehling Seymour also highlighted one of the biggest "wins" at ASA this year regarding the PHCC-Home Depot deal. The PHCC signed a national rewards program with Home Depot. After working together collaboratively with PHCC leadership, ASA was instrumental in having the program discontinued.

"PHCC chapters are newly focused on connecting with local independent and national professional distributors," she told attendees. "Our commitment to PHCC leadership was that our distributor members would support local chapters."

The following award recipients were honored during the dinner:

  • Pioneer Award – Mark Lane, Elmco Stewart
  • Industry Honor Award – Brian Fitzpatrick, Renco Sales
  • Woman of the Year Award – Katie Hubach, Signature Sales
  • Distinguished Service Award – Greg Goatcher, Orange County Winindustrial
  • Distributor of the Year Award – Jake Spitzlberger, Winsupply San Diego

The attendees took a moment of silence in remembrance of those SWPD members lost over the last year: Mike Fischer, Paula Covert and Vic Stalley.

"It is my great pleasure and honor to serve as the ASA staff liaison to the SWPD family," ASA’s Kendzel noted. "As I listened to those who introduced the award winners, I could not help but notice common themes: leadership, commitment, friend, mentor and team member.
"As I listened to the award recipient’s acceptance speeches, I again recognized similarities: humility, gratitude, family and recognition of those who played a role in their success. Most importantly, I walked away from the evening thankful that I am part of an industry that has a significant impact on the health of our nation and an association comprised of such caring and loving people."The SWPD/ASA Annual Leadership Conference takes place April 4-5, 2024 in Indian Wells, California. Stay tuned for more information, but be sure to block those dates on your 2024 calendars.