Dear Industry Colleagues,

This issue ofSupply House Timesshines the spotlight on manufacturers. ASA is using this platform to announce its new Premier Vendor Program, (see ASA News) giving recognition to those vendors who contribute to building a strong industry channel. I am adding my voice to the chorus of kudos going out to our industry’s manufacturers.

It wasn’t so long ago that the “us vs. them” attitude permeated much of the channel where the distributor and vendor relationship was concerned. Like many other relationships in life, this one has evolved over time to where we now stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the manufacturers and vendors in the “us.” This paradigm shift is certainly present in what the vendors have accomplished since the time they’ve been included in the ranks of ASA.

It’s tough to put into words how I feel about the role that the vendors have played in the success of our industry association. Of course, there’s the obvious role - the money that has sustained the organization since its inception. Whether it has been the sponsorship of events, the purchasing of display space at the convention, the glorious parties that they’ve thrown for us or the generous contributions they have made to the Karl E. Neupert Endowment Fund, the vendors have always been there when we’ve needed them.

As time went on, their contributions became much more than financial. It was recognized that their insight was essential to building a strong future forallof ASA’s members. One of the best decisions previous leaders at ASA ever made was to welcome manufacturer members to sit on the ASA Board of Directors and the Executive Committee. Over the years, I have been in the presence of some “mighty fine dogs” - members of the manufacturers’ companies that have served us well with their expertise in organizational dynamics, finance, marketing, and specific knowledge of our industry and its members. One passionate person in particular that I remember is Dennis Broderick of InSinkErator. When Dennis was a member of the Executive Committee, not a meeting went by that he didn’t challenge us by asking the tough questions. He made us prove our worth at every meeting. Dennis was a great influence on our organization, and I, personally, learned a lot from him. 

However, from my point of view, the greatest contribution the manufacturers have made to ASA is the relationships they have built over the years - relationships not only between customers and suppliers, but relationships amongst competitors. I hear it said again and again: This is a great industry, with some wonderful people. That includes the manufacturers. There are many people who I consider to be my friends, both wholesalers and vendors. Coming to our annual convention is like attending an annual reunion of old friends. We talk, we laugh, we toast our successes, we lament our failures, and we mourn those who have passed. When you ask me what the manufacturers have done for the American Supply Association, I think about all the friends that I have made and the partnerships that have flourished. I thank all those people for making this such a great industry! It’s one of the many reasons I’mstillexcited to be president.

Jeff New