I’ve been in this industry and a member of ASA for a long time - long enough to look back and recall a very definite “us vs. them” attitude when it came to the distributor/manufacturer relationship. The thought of a supplier becoming a member of ASA was met with acrimony and dismissed as “won’t ever happen.” How times have changed.
As I write to you in early 2010, I am proud
to say that we have a vibrant and strong Vendor Member Division that is an
integral part of our success as an association, with vendor members on the
Executive Committee and a supplier who served as president of the ASA Education Foundation. This change in
philosophy is an excellent example of Henry Ford’s statement declaring “Coming
together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is
The work we, as distributors, can do with suppliers to realize
success continues today. The change in our industry’s economy has presented
many opportunities for us to take a look at our relationships with our
suppliers (and vice versa) and see how we can make them stronger and more
profitable. The next step - while the economy is still in flux - is to come
together to work
morecollectively and profitably to survive. We all know pricing isn’t the answer -
what is, is understanding each other better. This is an area where I see ASA
providing a clear advantage to those who are members.
By having a united
membership of distributors and manufacturers, a network has been established
and cultivated over the years to provide a strong foundation which welcomes
open, honest conversation. A priority for 2010 will see ASA developing
opportunities where we can bring together manufacturers, their professional
representatives and wholesaler distributors to discuss dilemmas that drive cost
and hurt profitability on both sides. The role played by professional
manufacturers representatives will be of vital importance in that conversation.
Loyalty to domestic manufacturers is something I believe in and would like to
promote throughout the channel. I look
forward to working with the Vendor Member Division Council to look at how we
can work together to prepare for economic recovery.
The lessons ASA has learned over the years about the importance of partnerships
between wholesalers and manufacturers and their national trade association are
being applied in other important areas as well. Just as it was with the manufacturers,
there was a day not too long ago when ASA and the buying groups existed in an
“us vs. them” world, viewing each other as competition for time, talent and
resources of our mutual members. Over time we all came to realize that “policy”
didn’t do anything to serve our members or advance the missions of any of the
individual organizations. Leaders from all parties - volunteers and executives
- came together to discuss partnerships that would allow the groups to share
programs and services that focus on each other’s strengths.
Last year, ASA
signed cooperative partner agreements with three major buying groups that serve
our industry: Affiliated Distributors, Embassy Group and WIT & Co. The
overall view is very positive. All the distributors and manufacturers I’ve
spoken to see it as a win-win, and something that has been long overdue. This
year, we will maximize these partnerships. The distributors involved will
benefit from the collective efforts to strengthen the industry rather than
having to choose between two great organizations working toward the same goal:
a strong, profitable and growing PHCP and PVF industry.
Take advantage of these partnerships. It may be just the advantage you need to
bring your business to that next level and outshine your competition. I look
forward to playing a strong role in keeping us all together to show progress,
and can’t wait to see the success that comes from working together.
Letter From The ASA President: Coming Together Is A Beginning…
February 1, 2010