Trade show consolidation updates.


In late February, the Plumbing Manufacturers Institute (PMI) issued a press release reiterating a position that its members had taken concerning the future of trade shows in our industry.

In the release, as well as in a letter sent to ASA and other associations in our industry, PMI members said, "While PMI applauds the efforts of ISH North America for working with its various partners to develop a unified trade show format, PMI believes that, in its present form, ISH North America actually represents trade show proliferation."

ASA, which is part of the NEX partnership that is co-producing ISH North America (beginning this year in Toronto, October 31-November 2), believes it is particularly in tune with the feelings of industry manufacturers owing to the involvement of its 225+ Associate members. We responded with the following letter:

Dear PMI Members:

Thank you for your letter and press release reiterating PMI's position regarding trade show consolidation. I'd like to respond on behalf of the former NEX Partners, ASA, CIPH and PHCC, who are current partners in ISH North America along with Messe Frankfurt, Inc. The NEX Partners, indeed all partners in ISH North America, congratulate PMI for its continued support of the vision for trade show consolidation.

In responding to your questions, we'd like to call your attention to the following:

In 1993, ASA and NAPHCC first proposed an "ISH-type" biennial show for the Americas that would reduce the burden on exhibitors. They toured the continent making presentations to other associations to join them. CIPH was the first to commit. Although others showed interest, it was up to the original three to proceed.

The NEX Partnership was formed and held shows in 1996 in Chicago, 1998 in Toronto and again in 2000 in Chicago.

During this four-year period, the Partners continued to meet with other associations in the Kitchen & Bath, Engineered Products and Heating & Air Conditioning fields. The goal to expand NEX into the "ISH" of the Americas was encouraged by many major exhibitors including Chuck Dowd of Masco.

Three of these years were spent in negotiations with the National Kitchen & Bath Association, attempting to merge NEX with KBIS. Draft contracts were drawn up and proposed?and rejected. At the eleventh hour, it was NKBA that decided to discontinue negotiations. During this time, PMI also began promoting the "ISH-type" show concept.

Meanwhile, Messe Frankfurt had successfully opened ISH China. Their North American Group, Messe Frankfurt Inc., was assessing the USA market.

The NEX Partners also began negotiations with ASPE in further pursuit of consolidation.

Since ISH Frankfurt is the model of consolidation that everyone was seeking, the NEX Partners and ASPE looked to MFI as a potential partner. ASPE ultimately decided not to pursue that direction at that time.

The ISH North America show was born, joining NEX with MFI, who agreed to continue to seek additional partners to consolidate existing shows. It was agreed that the ISH North America show would begin as an annual event and evolve into a biennial one.

In the meantime, the annual ISH North America show would replace 3 shows: NEX, and PHCC's and ASA's tabletop shows. Toronto was chosen as the site for the first show.

The ISH North America partners continue to meet with like-minded associations and show owners. With PMI's continued prompting, trade show consolidation will happen. We all want one major industry trade show for the Americas. ISH North America is a brave start.



ASA is strongly behind the idea of trade show consolidation and will continue to pursue efforts in that direction. Many of PMI's members are also members of ASA, and have expressed their positions on the subject through their participation on ASA's Board of Directors. ASA encourages manufacturers to continue to lobby other organizations, including NKBA, ASPE and others, in an effort to achieve continued progress in this direction.


In a survey conducted among ASA member wholesalers by the Government Affairs Council, 100 respondents gave us some insight into their ideas as to how ASA's lobbyists should spend their time:

The survey was undertaken to get an updated profile of ASA members and where they believe ASA's efforts should be expended on Capitol Hill. Based on these results, it appears our current agenda is right on target. Our lobby firm of Kent & O'Connor is currently working in the areas of tax reform and OSHA and DOT regulatory issues.

If you are an ASA member or Associate Member and would like to get an email version of the "Washington Update" for a thorough review of ASA-related issues, please send an email to


The members of the Pacific Southwest Distributors Association met for their Annual Convention, April 11-14 in Indian Wells, Calif. Among the highlights of the program were a presentation called "Smart Sales Strategies for a Challenging Economy" by noted sales expert Dave Kahle.

An expanded silent auction, a favorite event of PSDA members for several years now, was held to benefit the City of Hope and the ASA Political Action Committee. PSDA members and associate members each year donate valuable prizes to this event.

The program was rounded out with plenty of time for golf and tennis, as well as the popular ice cream social. For more information about PSDA's programs, contact Bob Bluth at 480-991-5703.

Maintain Training in Tough Times

One of the most difficult things a company may have to do when business drops off is to reduce the size of its workforce. Many companies often find that downsizing does not reduce costs or increase profitability to the extent expected.

Remaining employees can find it a great challenge and disheartening to pick up the extra responsibilities of departed employees - especially if those employees were highly experienced, possessed different skills and performed well. Smart operators will adjust job descriptions of the remaining employees to encompass the newly required skills and target training at the new responsibilities. Providing needed training and leveraging that training with necessary systems, tools and incentives can go a long way toward increasing worker productivity and eliminating errors and frustration.

Keeping your commitment to training can be especially tough when trying to recover profits in an economic atmosphere where prices cannot be raised and gross margins cannot be increased. Training is clearly an operational expense and the temptation to consider it optional can be compelling. Resist that temptation! Changing your organization cannot be done without significant learning. The learning organization will always embrace change, build momentum and gain the edge over those who count beans rather than brains.

Scholarship Applications -The Most Ever!

Every year the Foundation offers five $1500 scholarships to assist ASA member company employees and their families in pursuing higher education. This year the Foundation received a record 145 applications - an increase of 26% over the previous year.

A scholarship committee of ASA leaders is currently judging applications. The winners will be announced in early May.

Scholarship applications and promotional posters are sent to ASA member companies in early November of each year. The applications are also made available on the ASA website. Promoting the scholarships within your company is a good way to demonstrate your interest in the well-being and ongoing development of your employees.

Revised PVF CD-ROM Courses

This month the Foundation will introduce three revised PVF CD-ROM courses. The three revised courses include: Introduction to Pipe, Valves and Fittings; Steel, Stainless Steel and Iron Pipe and Fittings; and Copper, Plastic Pipe and Fittings and Pipe Joining Methods. Each revised CD replaces the three short exams per CD with one comprehensive exam per CD that can be faxed or e-mailed to the Foundation for correction and issuing of a certificate of completion. The new exams significantly improve the assessment component of the program. Other improvements in navigation and content enhance the speed and effectiveness of the learning.

To learn more, contact the Foundation at 312-464-0090.


This month's focus is David M. Siegal, President and CEO of Hercules Chemical Company, Inc. in Passaic, N.J. David is currently serving as Vice Chairman of the ASA Associate Member Division, and also participates on the recently formed Database Task Force. His ASA service also has seen him in an active role in the development of the strategic plans relating to the organization's restructuring.

Hercules has been in business for 87 years offering a mix of plumbing chemicals and related accessories. Its market is primarily in the U.S., with some exporting. Its "niche," according to David, is providing the highest level of quality and noteworthy customer service.

David himself has been in this industry for 17 years. "I started my career intending to be an industrial arts-vocational education instructor. Unfortunately that didn't pay very well and Susan, the future Mrs. Siegal, was on the scene. So I took a job in the retail division of J.C. Penney, ultimately becoming a hard goods buyer. In 1987, I accepted an offer to join and become general manager of Hercules, and then moved on to vice president and executive vice president. In 1995, the employees bought the company under an ESOP and I became president and CEO."

Mr. and Mrs. Siegal have two grown children and a granddaughter, all of whom live in the San Francisco area. When he's asked why he volunteers his time giving to ASA causes, David says,

"Working with ASA gives me the opportunity to network with the 'best and the brightest' people in our industry. It's a wonderful window into what is of concern to today's wholesaler. Working with people on all sides of the supply chain we can share our experiences and try to guide our industry into solutions for tomorrow's challenges. The big plus of this is the warm and delightful friends we have made, both at the ASA staff level and among the wholesaling and manufacturing communities."