Participants in the ASA Convention program this year not only enjoyed the "Summit" portion of the agenda, but also got outstanding value as the ASA Education Foundation kicked off its brand new course, "Essentials of Profitable PHCP Distribution." The course was introduced in an energizing, half-day "train the trainer" workshop led by Dr. Kathryne Newton of Purdue University.

Almost 100 ASA wholesalers and vendors crammed the meeting room as Dr. Newton facilitated a lively discussion on how distributors could engage employees in thinking like owners and helping ensure a profitable operation. She showed the participants how to use "Essentials" to solicit commitment from their employees to increase profits. She demonstrated how to clarify concepts like margin vs. markup that are mysterious to new and sometimes even very experienced employees. Most importantly, participants learned how to use the course to help their employees emphasize improving factors that exert the greatest influence on profits.

Participants were unanimous in their enthusiasm for the new course. Alan Dickson of Dickson Supply Co. said, " Our industry has needed this 'business smarts training' forever. I am glad it's finally here." And Jeff New of Mid-City Supply noted that, "Our company does a lot of training. Reviewing this course shows us how far we need to go."

Even the vendors who took part voiced their enthusiasm for "Essentials" as a great way to get their own new employees up to speed on how wholesalers do business.

In commenting on how to best use the program, most distributors recommended working with employees over the course of several meetings, and working in company policies and financial statements. They also suggested that employees start the program right after they're hired, or just after that critical first 90 days to avoid employees who are unlikely to make the grade.

Over the next few months the Foundation will work to develop an instructor's and leader's guide for the course. Also in the works are "train-the-trainer" workshops in several regions in 2003. If you are interested in "Essentials of Profitable PHCP Distribution" or a train-the-trainer in your geographical area, please contact the ASA Education Foundation at 312-464-0090 or on-line at