Dear Industry Colleagues,

This is my ninth letter as the ASA President. In preparing to write it, I went back through the previous eight to review what we’ve talked about over the months. I found that of the eight letters, four talked about ASA’s role in government affairs, with two being completely devoted to the topic. That’s 50% of what we’ve talked about so far this year. As someone who wasn’t particularly involved to a large degree with this aspect of ASA, I can tell you with certainty that I am living proof of the saying “the only source of knowledge is experience.” I’ve gone to Washington, D.C., and met with our legislators, I’ve had our congressman at our business, I’ve written letters on behalf of our industry regarding issues that impact how we do business - and I discovered what we have to saydoesmatter. Wecanmake a difference - now imagine what ASA can do with its entire membership behind it.

ASA will be the recognized voice for the PHCP/PVF Industry.

ASA can speak on the industry’s behalf like no other organization because we are structured to address issues on a national level and support our regional affiliates on issues unique to their areas. If we do not live up to this responsibility, we would be accepting the fact that our industry will have no one speaking on its behalf. That is not acceptable to ASA’s leadership and we take active steps to ensure we fulfill our responsibility as “The Voice of the Industry.” 

A unified voice is not limited to government affairs. But the stronger our voice and the better capable we are of getting our message out there, the more powerful an influence we can be in Washington, D.C., in working on behalf of our members. The influence we can wield in D.C. is the fruit of our labor in the following ways:

Action Plan #1: Increase the number of key audiences that recognize ASA as the judicious voice of the industry.

In the past year, ASA has been more involved in coalitions and partnerships with other associations within and without our industry. There are 11 coalitions in which ASA is actively involved, working with corporations and other associations to promote (or defeat) legislation on behalf of our industry.  ASA also chairs the coalition that is working to pass the W.A.T.E.R. Bill of 2009, which today has one sponsor and six co-sponsors in the Senate and one sponsor and eight co-sponsors in the House.

The Education Foundation has signed partnerships with three associations to sell ASA-developed products that are applicable to their members. By sharing our products and resources in these ways, we are exposing ASA to new audiences that are coming to recognize we mean business and have the programs to back it up.

Action Plan #2: Increase meaningful communication throughout the supply chain.

ASA has increased communications efforts significantly since the inception of the strategic plan with print and electronic media, plus a completely redeveloped Web site that shows ASA’s accomplishments. The development of Professional Peer Networking Councils has brought together manufacturers and wholesalers in the same job functions to network and share Best Practices.  We have recently entered into agreements with Affiliated Distributors, Embassy and WIT & Co. to work together on sharing complementing resources between our memberships.  All of these bring together members of the supply chain that have not traditionally engaged each other, and ASA is the central force behind it.

Action Plan #3: Engage the industry in the advocacy effort.

My opening paragraph touches on the initiatives that ASA has put in place to accomplish this - the Legislative Fly-In, the Congressional Visit Program to members’ places of business, and taking individuals to D.C.  ASA’s Government and Public Affairs Committee has done outstanding work in getting ASA members engaged in the advocacy effort. Through regular conference calls, suggestions for improving the legislative section of ASA’s website making it easy for more people to get involved, and constant communication with Kent & O’Connor in Washington, D.C., they have become an impressively active and effective committee. Our most ambitious endeavor to date is the Capitol Hill Legislative Appointments that will happen atNetworkASA 2009: POWER. Take a look atASA Newsto read about this program in greater detail. As someone who has first-hand knowledge of the impact these types of visits can have, I implore you to make sure you attend NetworkASA 2009 and experience this for yourself.    

I look forward to seeing you in Washington, D.C., this October to unify our voices on behalf of this great industry.

Joe Poehling