Dear Industry Colleagues,
This December issue starts a new feature, the Letter from the ASA President, an opportunity to reach out to the readers of SUPPLY HOUSE TIMES and share with you what’s going on at ASA.

Since December marks my last official month as President of ASA, this will be my first and last letter. I am grateful for the opportunity to share some thoughts with you.

My overriding desire this year has been to find ways to increase participation in ASA programs and events. To me, this is the real test of whether we’re delivering value to our members. We made some progress this year and I am confident that everyone at ASA is working hard on creating membership value.

We created the ASA Professional Peer Networking Councils. The Councils’ mission is to improve the value our executives, managers and supervisors bring to our organizations through networking, benchmarking, continuing education and sharing the latest trends with others in the same functional areas.

In August we held the first Council meeting for training and HR managers. We hoped to get 20-25 participants. At 55 registrants, we ran out of hotel space and closed the registration. The comment I received from our HR manager was typical of the reviews we received, “I met with other HR managers from around the country doing exactly what I do and dealing with the issues I face every day. It was the most valuable event I’ve attended in years. It was just too short. Our Council is now planning our February Council meeting where we plan to add a day to the agenda. I think ASA is really on the right track organizing this kind of program.”

We are now expanding the Council program with a Showroom Managers Council meeting Dec. 4-5, 2007, in Chicago (sold out), a Warehouse & Operations Council meeting in Dallas Feb. 26-27, 2008, and the second Training Council meeting in Dallas Feb. 28-29, 2008. In addition, we have Council meetings in the works for CFOs and sales managers for later in 2008. During my 32 years working in this industry the most valuable ideas have come from my peers. Facilitating these Council meetings is the right role for ASA and having your people participate is right for your company.

We also wanted to increase the number of members who use ASA Education Foundation programs (books, CDs, seminars, Webinars, podcasts, and more). Only a small percentage of members utilize our programs, so we introduced a trial offer where ASA members could purchase $1,000 of ASAEF training materials at a 75% discount. We had 43 new companies buy ASAEF materials. The ASAEF staff will be in contact with these companies to help them maximize the value of their new training programs. Training is like exercising - we all know it is good for us, but only a few of us do it. ASA can be your personal trainer; let us guide you and make your business healthier with training - it will pay dividends.

In closing, I want to assure you that everyone at ASA is working hard on your behalf to create a positive business environment - an environment that thrives with well-trained employees, access to valuable information, and opportunities to learn from one another. I’m proud to be a part of an industry in which so many people dedicate the time and energy to building a positive future for our profession. Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of it and to have served as ASA president this year.

Joel S. Becker
Torrington Supply Co.