In so many ways it feels like weeks ago that I was in Chicago declaring to the room that this year was going to be our moment for our whole wide, exciting world.

Well, it has been a moment. I have truly loved serving as your ASA president, and I am honored that you chose me in this moment.

As an industry, we’ve had a good year. A great year by any measure. In fact, I was driving down the highway recently with now industry legend, my daughter, Frances. She asked me why the road was broken. I explained we needed a new one and they were putting in those big pipes she saw at mom’s work the other day.

Her reply was old-school distributor. “Did you sell them the pipes?” (i.e., Did you get the order?) After breathing a sigh of relief and letting her know we did, in fact, get the order, she said, “Great job, Mom.”

It’s been a good year.

Looking back on my time as 2023 ASA president, I want to thank the people who made this year possible for me. First, to my husband, Jeff. He carried the flipside of the days away, the miles traveled, and all the rest of what makes this happen. Thank you.

As I already mentioned, Frances, and her sisters Georgia, and Johanna. Thank-you to my very best team. I missed you always and I’ve loved coming home to you every single time.

Maybe my most unsung hero, my nanny and assistant, Jessi. We couldn’t do life without you.

To my sisters, brother, and their families: This may not be the New York Times or Paramount+ that they frequent, but their support all year was meaningful.

My fellow fifth-generation family member Todd Restel is bringing our business into the future with me along with his wife, my cousin, Eva Marie. Thank-you for your partnership.

My mother, Kate, has been a pillar of this industry for generations. She could write a book that all of us should read about succession planning. She stands in very rarified company as both the wife and mother of ASA presidents. Thank-you for being the example we’ve all needed in every moment.

Since NETWORK2023 (and what a NETWORK it was with nearly 900 attendees and nearly 90 distributor companies) was at the doorstep of Disney World in Orlando, here’s another quick story. I was watching “Cinderella” with the girls recently and we got to the scene where Cinderella realizes she can’t go to the ball. The ball of light begins to appear that is the fairy godmother who will make everything possible for Cinderella, and Johanna says, “Who’s that coming?” Without missing a beat her twin, Georgia, shouts “it’s Grandpa!”

Grandpa would be my father Joe Poehling (former ASA president), who has made so much of this happen for all of us. He turned our pumpkins into stagecoaches and made us realize our wildest dreams. We will all always be better because he dreams a better future for us.

To my team that was with me in Orlando at NETWORK: Scott Boehlke, Seth DePuy, Matt Durtsche, Michael O’Brien, Tammy Spialek, Tim Winter, Mike Miller, Brian Heidtke, Scott Meverden, Rick Viviani, Connie Holl and Amanda Kunst, and the rest of our 700 team members, you made this all possible for me by keeping the lights on and those orders coming in. I hope you’ve learned as much as I have through it.

I’d also like to recognize two women who we lost too soon and will forever live in the shadow of their grace and their leadership. They both shaped my career. They have truly made it possible for women like me to be on this stage today. And for the women who will follow, sooner rather than later I’m certain.

Dottie Ramsey from Modern Supply is the first and only other woman to serve as ASA president, and Alice Martin from NIBCO, for whom the ASA Women in Industry Woman of the Year Award is named.

Their legacies will not be forgotten as they live eternally in the history of our industry.

Delta Airlines tells me I’ve flown about 175,000 miles this year (which probably gets me a free water in their new program, oh well). I’ve visited 13 states in this role and in my estimation businesses representing at least 100,000 people and nearly $100 billion in revenue. Thank-you all for your hospitality.

Between the visits, the events, the panels, the speeches, and the parties we also got a few things done this year. And that wouldn’t be without the extraordinary team at ASA. With Mike Adelizzi’s leadership, Aaron Scheiwe’s guidance, Mike Miazga’s drive, Taylor Kenney’s vision, Steve Rossi’s advocacy efforts and Caitlin Beeter literally pulling it all together, our industry is in a fantastic position because of this leadership team and the teams behind them working hard every day. Thank-you for making this year run so smoothly for me, for keeping up with me, and for making it fun while we did it.

  • This past year, we launched our new governance structure that is engaging 220 member volunteers in over 25 councils, task groups, committees and boards. It has been invaluable to help ASA gain insight into the challenges members are facing and how ASA can support them.
    • We held the largest Women in Industry ELEVATE conference in our decade-plus history, although I bet every president will be able to say that. Well done to chairwoman Tracie Sponenberg from the Granite Group.
    • This year marked the first in history for both ASA and Emerging Leaders to be led by women. Thank-you Stephanie Cook from Northeastern Supply for leading an incredibly strong program.
    • For the first time, women were in charge of both ASA and AIM/R with Katie Hubach from Signature Sales leading the way.
    • And for the first time, women were presidents of both ASA and HARDI, the HVAC distributor trade association, with Ronda White and me.
    • And lastly, I’ll make a clear ask on behalf of another phenomenal female leader in Karla Neupert Hockley of Consolidated Supply for the ASA Education Foundation Karl E. Neupert Endowment Fund. If you haven’t yet donated, you can do so by visiting The ASA Education Foundation will be the lynchpin for our future success not only as an association but an industry. The foundation is embarking on an impressive journey into micro learning, AI, and frankly capturing the old-fashioned tribal knowledge that is leaving the industry. It is all our responsibilities to contribute to this critical task.
  • We continue to be led by big and bold ideas such as PROJECT TALENT, which recently took the next step at attracting career seekers to member websites.
  • We also began the effort to standardize how data is shared between distributors and manufacturers, with the Embracing the Future Strategic Council. This team will also launch our first-ever ASA Innovation Summit in 2024 in Chicago, deepening our members’ understanding on how AI will impact them and how we can best position ourselves for the future.
  • We’ve continued to innovate our business intelligence tools with the recently launched Voice of the Contractor survey with nearly 30,000 plumbing and mechanical contractors giving our members insight into what contractors are thinking and facing. The results were published last month.
  • If you attended one of the regional events, you heard that earlier this year we met with PHCC to rebuild our longstanding relationship. We renewed our sponsorship of their annual Skills USA competition, and I served on panel at PHCC Connect along with past ASA President Scott Robertson and InSinkErator’s Rob Grim. You may have heard that PHCC had struck an agreement with Home Depot last year incentivizing their members to direct their purchases to Home Depot. They cancelled that agreement to re-engage with our members in the professional channels. If you aren’t supporting your local PHCC chapter, find out how you can.
  • Lastly, I hope you heard about the ASA World Plumbing Day posters. In 2022 we had only 8 entries which we expanded to 52 entries in 2023, including international award winners. I got to visit the classrooms of two winners in Wisconsin and even celebrate with popsicles.

Also, ASA has long had programs for workplace safety to support all our efforts, whether manufacturers, distributors or reps, to make our people safer every day. It really hit home at one meeting I attended this year when someone in the audience collapsed. After a scary and chaotic few minutes, a doctor staying at the hotel administered CPR and the gentleman was ultimately OK.

Unfortunately, many people in the crowd realized they wouldn’t have known how to administer CPR. In all my free time, I work with the American Heart Association in Wisconsin, leading this year’s efforts for the Go Red for Women program because I was once on the receiving end of lifesaving CPR. At NETWORK, we showed a QR code that provides a quick lesson on how to give hands-free CPR. You never know when you might save a life like mine.

If you’d like to support our efforts, text GOREDMKE to 7177 to find out more. We really have had an amazing year. But I’m ready to pass the torch to Patrick Maloney from Coburn Supply. I’ll leave you with one last Frances story. One recent night she says to me, “Mom, let’s pretend you’re the boss.”
 “Sounds great,” I said.
 “What do we do? I’ll do whatever you say,” she told me.
 I took the opening and said, “OK, Frances, please finish your dinner.”
 “Mom,” she says, rolling her eyes at me, “we’re just pretending.”

So, enough of me pretending to be the boss around here.
 Patrick, it’s your turn to pretend!
 Thank you again, for a great year.