News and information about the American Supply Association.


ASA owes a great debt of gratitude to the efforts of Harold L. Williams of Security Supply Corporation in Selkirk, N.Y., retiring as ASA's Chairman of the Board this year. During his long tenure on the ASA Board of Directors and Executive Committee, Hal's tireless efforts and diplomacy enabled the association to grow and change with the changing needs of its members.

A huge thanks go out to Harold and his wife, Kerry Ann, who has served on the Partners of ASA Executive Committee for many years, for their staunch support and continued involvement.


This spring, the Executive Council of the ASA Associate Member Division (AMD) decided they wanted to sponsor a project that somehow would emphasize to wholesalers all of the supply chain management (SCM) efforts that manufacturers have undertaken that would positively affect everyone's bottom line. One of the objectives was to shift conversations from margins (what's your best price?) to expenses (what can we do to save money?).

At the same time, the Executive Council of the Industrial Pipe Division (IPD) wanted to pursue a project that would draw attention to those manufacturers who were making strides in SMC, with an underlying objective of "encouraging" those not involved in SMC to get on the bandwagon. Both groups had one overriding common goal: to move, push, pull, drag the industry forward in its efforts to wring supply chain costs out of an antiquated system in some of the same ways that Home Depot and other big boxes had done years ago.

Peggy Tracy, co-author of Action Plan 2003, was hired by a joint task force of AMD and IPD to design a project that would meet everyone's objectives. Over the course of the summer, Peggy has talked to dozens of manufacturers, wholesalers and SMC experts. The project started as a "report card" of the SCM efforts of each participating manufacturer and has evolved into a benchmarking project, in part, because of a benchmarking survey conducted in June. The survey resulted in an amazing 39% response rate signaling that manufacturers were extremely interested in the subject. Results of that survey are being made available to ASA members this month and will be included in the report Peggy will be providing at her October 23 presentation in Las Vegas.

At the ASA Convention, a large contractor, a national wholesaler and a large manufacturer will open the presentation by discussing their efforts to reduce supply chain costs and what their requirements are of good supply chain partners. Peggy will then present the process and content that the joint task force has designed. It is their vision that manufacturers will anonymously complete detailed SCM information via the Internet, submit it to a third party who will calculate industry numbers and then provide industry data to the PHCP community along with industry goals (e.g. "98% fill rate on first pass and no more than two shipments to complete an order"). The task force hopes to undertake the same project next year with wholesalers and ultimately with contractors.

Not only will this effort provide information to a data-starved industry, but the task force truly believes it will go a long way towards making the entire PHCP a much more efficient industry.


The EC Summit program at the ASA Convention this year will focus on one very fundamental subject: building an industry-wide, standard product database. On October 23rd in Las Vegas, Kevin Price, Director of ASA's Center for Advancing Technology, will lead a session designed to help distributors and manufacturers understand how the PHCP industry can benefit from the continued development of a bank of standard numbers. The session will help answer questions such as:

1. What is the database?

2. What can we do with it?

3. What do users need to get to it?

4. How can distributors benefit?

5. How can manufacturers benefit?

This session is being held as part of the ASA Annual Convention, but all interested parties are welcome. For more information, contact ASA at 312-464-0090, or visit


Even in an environment of "technology withdrawal," the PHCP marketplace continues to take advantage of computer-based capabilities to reduce costs. ASA ANSINET?, a full-service EDI (electronic data interchange) network, is connecting an increasing number of trading partners as short-term ROI (return on investment) expectations grow.

The Management Information Systems Group, Inc. (MISG) is teamed with the ASA Center for Advancing Technology to provide ASA ANSINET to PHCP trading partners. Recently, Bemis Manufacturing, Chicago Tube & Iron, Lasco Fittings, Metropolitan Pipe & Supply, Sloan Valve Company and Wolff Brothers Supply have been added to the ASA ANSINET community. These and hundreds of other PHCP companies use ASA EDI*Express standard formats to seamlessly exchange mission-critical documents, such as Purchase Orders, Invoices, Advance Ship Notices and Database/Catalogs, over the ASA ANSINET system.

Buying groups are also now taking advantage of unique flexibilities inherent with ASA ANSINET to reduce supply costs for members. Affiliated Distributors represents hundreds of companies in the plumbing, hardlines and electrical products markets, and it recently identified MISG as a preferred EDI service provider. ASA ANSINET and MISG's Internet-capable service, TransLink?, will bring significant savings to Affiliated members through the delivery of EDI documents.

Dot-com, online and other Internet applications have promised substantial supply chain savings, but they have risen and fallen quickly. The best of these will survive to provide unique solutions in the future, but ASA ANSINET and TransLink? are enabling suppliers and distributors to realize significant benefits today and at very little entry cost. Industry-standard document maps or formats, on-net translation, and improved technology are allowing companies with limited IT (Information Technology) resources to implement EDI and quickly realize savings. In fact, in most cases small to medium-sized customers can utilize Web browser technology to access EDI documents delivered over MISG networks, eliminating all start-up costs.

An interesting aspect to the relationship between EDI and Internet exchanges and marketplaces is that EDI networks like ASA ANSINET and TransLink increasingly are being used to provide transaction processing for the online applications. The PHCP industry is integrating the best of established technologies with expanding communications mediums while ensuring that it conducts business over reliable networks like ASA ANSINET.

For more information about ASA ANSINET, contact Paul Newman at MISG. Or, contact the ASA Center for Advancing Technology, 800-608-7308; email:


The 2001 Operating Performance Report (OPR) is now available, highlighting last year's business performance indices for the PHCP and PVF industries. The OPR has been prepared for the nineteenth year by Industry Insights, Inc. of Columbus, Ohio, and is representative of the survey responses of 211 ASA member distributors.

The Report includes financial ratios and statistics by type of firm (plumbing, PVF, combination, etc.), by sales volume and by high profit firms.

Some key findings from the 2001 OPR include:

Plumbing supply firms reported a 4.4% sales gain in 2000, down from 8.4% in 1999.

PVF firms showed growth of 7.3% in 2000, as compared to 4.4% in 1999.

Profitability (all firms) (after tax return on net worth) at 7.4% was down from 1999's 9.1% and 1998's 9.4%.

Gross margin on sales (all firms) remains relatively constant at 23.3% (23.5% in 1999; 23.7% in 1998).

The 95-page book is available to ASA members for $75 and to non-members for $150. It's an excellent resource to use when determining how your company measures up against your competitors, and to determine areas for improved financial results. For more information or to order, contact ASA at 312-464-0090.

What Will You Do With YOUR Tax Rebate?

In a gesture motivated by friendship and caring, Paul and Meg Davis (Western Suppliers Association executives) decided to put their $600 tax rebate to good use. They donated it to the Brad Sell Family Fund, even though they'd already participated in the program earlier this year. "We can't think of a better place to send it," said Meg Davis.

The Brad Sell Family Fund was established earlier this year to help the family of Brad Sell, executive director of the New England Wholesalers Association. Brad, 47, has been diagnosed with inoperable prostate cancer. He and his wife, Dawn, have two sons, the oldest of which recently entered college.

Thanks to the generosity of hundreds of people in this industry, the Brad Sell Family Fund has already reached $160,000. For more information, contact Inge Calderon at 312-464-0090 or write

Mark Your Calendars for IDM

The perennially popular Institute for Distribution Management has announced the dates for its 2002 program: March 24-27, 2002, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Those familiar with this valuable industry training opportunity are encouraged to block the dates and watch the mails for detailed information. Or, contact the ASA Education Foundation at 312-464-0090 to register early.

Newest CD-ROM Essential to Sales

Many wholesalers use the Product Pro Complete Plumbing Systems Course to teach their sales personnel essential information concerning plumbing fixtures. This month, we are taking a major step forward by introducing our newest CD-ROM training program, Essentials of Fixtures and Faucets.

This expanded and updated CD-ROM version of the book course covers all the basics on toilets, bidets, lavatories, sinks, showers, bathtubs and faucets. It also introduces new information on jetted tubs, spas, shower spas and others.

The program fills two CDs with interactive, graphics-intensive training, with animation and self-tests throughout. Two final exams (one for each CD) and a Certificate of Completion complete the package.

To learn more about the program, send an email to or call 312-464-0090.

Train When It's Needed

A key strategy in getting the most bang for your training buck involves training at the exact time at which it is needed. One example of this "just in time training" could involve a course on closing a sale. Imagine for a moment a new sales rep out on several training calls with a senior sales person. The senior sales person determines that the employee is doing very well but needs some help closing the sale. That evening, back in his/her room, the employee logs on to the NAM Virtual University and takes a 60-minute course (for less than $10) on closing a sale. The next day, armed with a new set of skills, the employee is raring to go.

In fact, the "Closing a Sale" course, along with more than 700 courses for just in time training as well as overall skill development, are available right now from the NAM Virtual University. You can connect through the ASA Education Foundation Web site (


DOT Hours of Service:According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), the agency will not issue a new hours-of-service (HOS) proposal for at least a year. The agency's proposed rule issued last year has generated more than 65,000 public comments (mostly negative). DOT is awaiting results of an independent cost-benefit analysis before moving forward. The agency has 3 options: issue a new proposal, issue a final rule based on last year's proposal, or issue a different final rule based on the findings of the analysis. ASA is watching this issue very closely.

OSHA Sends Warning Letters: About 14,000 work sites have received a letter from OSHA, warning owners that they have high workplace injury and illness rates and should seek assistance from OSHA or other resources to reduce hazards in the workplace. OSHA plans to conduct comprehensive inspections at about 1,000 sites reporting "especially high" lost workday injury and illness rates in 1999 (the most recent year for which data is available). The national average for private industry in 1999 was 3.0 cases per 100 full-time workers. The sites to be inspected by OSHA had rates of at least 8.0 cases per 100 full-time workers.

Free Monthly Updates: ASA's legislative advocates, Kent & O'Connor, publish a newsletter, "Washington Update," which is sent free every month via email to all ASA members and Associate members. If you're not on our list, send your name and email address to