Making decisions without the proper data is an enormous risk.
a business isn’t all that different from solving mysteries. You find a lot of
clues, put them together in a way that makes sense and hope that the end
conclusion is correct, or it’s back to the starting point. The great Sherlock
Holmes once said, “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.” It
makes perfect sense in solving mysteries - and running a successful business.
Making decisions on product, operations, personnel, capital investments without
the proper data is an enormous risk and, thanks to the American Supply
Association, one that none of us has to take.
Since January 2009, ASA has produced an ASA Industry Intelligence Report –
Monthly Sales Report, documenting trends in sales, inventory and employment in
the PHCP and PVF wholesale distribution industry on a national level. This is the only report of its kind available
to us. If you participate by sharing your data and using the information
produced as a result of that, I thank you. If you do not, I have to ask, why
In these unstable times, it is difficult to know how we are doing in our
marketplace. Much of the business available to us is project work, with
billing and shipping happening in large pieces with many starts and stops. The
old market with a nice flow of business is just not there. This makes it very
difficult to gauge how the general market is doing. Especially important is,
“Am I keeping up, gaining, or falling behind?”
The best benchmark available to me is this monthly sales report generated by
the ASA. Each month, ASA invites all of
its member wholesaler-distributors to participate in this report by completing
a confidential survey on sales (both MTM and calendar YTD), inventory levels,
three months average DSOs, and YTD profit before taxes. Typically, the
participation deadline is on the eighth business day of the month, and the
report is available within four business days. The report provides a breakdown
of the data across different sales volumes, industry segments, regions and
specific state/metropolitan market areas.
Sounds like something you need in your hands every month, right? I can assure
you it is.
I’m writing about this today to request that every company who is not currently
submitting their data for this report consider doing so for all of 2011. It
costs nothing to participate - it’s a member benefit provided to you through
your dues. The resulting report is available free to ASA members who submit
their data. With a 15-minute investment each month, you can gauge the market
and how your company compares on key items such as sales, gross margin,
inventory, and headcount.
The report available now is excellent, but it could become even better. The
quality of the information can improve for all of us if we all participate,
making our industry stronger, more sustainable and proactive in advancements.
Taking risks is all well and good, but save that for an area in which there
isn’t such a valuable resource available to you. Make sure you have the data
before you theorize on that mystery we all strive to solve each day - achieving
Pipe & Supply
Letter From The ASA President - Make No Mistake
February 1, 2011