The ASA Convention this year, September 29-October 1 at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, will once again feature the "Summit" format introduced a year ago, in which all delegates participate in the same sessions through the day. However, this year's event will cover new ground, and will include a perspective not evidenced during last year's program. Here are just a few highlights:

Michael Marks -- will serve as the Summit's facilitator. He's always knowledgeable, often irreverent, and frequently controversial. He'll spur participants to think differently and to ask provocative questions of our speakers.

Instant Audience Response System -- will allow the wholesalers, manufacturers and reps in our audience to respond to the speakers' remarks and to identify whether they agree or disagree with what's being said. This is a great tool to identify trends.

Hot! Speakers -- at press time, we'd confirmed some speakers, and had pending invitations out to others who were checking their calendars. These keynote speakers will explore not only what's on the horizon for the wholesale channel, but will also examine other channels that can and will affect our industry's future:

C.S. "Chip" Hornsby, President & CEO, Ferguson Enterprises, will lead off a series of keynoters, who will each represent a differing viewpoint on where our marketplace is heading, and what's in store for the wholesale distribution channel in the near future.

Among others we've invited are executives with a large contractor consolidation firm, as well as one of the leading execs with Lowe's Companies, Inc.

Be sure to watch for announcements as this slate is completed. More industry figures will also be participating in the afternoon's panel discussions, including wholesalers, manufacturers and others.

Economic Update -- we've invited Edwin Scott Jr. back once again to present a capsule of what the plumbing and industrial PVF markets have in store for the short and not-so-short term. Is a true recovery in the cards, or are we due for more of the same?

Market Breakfast Programs -- a new way to focus in on the unique needs of plumbing wholesalers and manufacturers, and on the industrial PVF market will take the shape of three separate breakfast programs, each geared to one segment of the audience. Participants will hear the results of a pre-convention survey designed to "take the industry's temperature," and facilitated group discussions will solicit feedback.

ISH North America -- The Mandalay Bay Convention Center will host this year's ISH North America, where 350+ manufacturers will be displaying their products and talking about what's new. Plus, the expanded "ISH Academy" of 50+ professionally-led seminars will bring thousands to the event.