Dear Industry Colleagues,

A motivation to join ASA is often the common bond of being a business owner or supplier in the PHCP and PVF industry. Membership allows one to associate with people employed at companies similar to yours, who face many of the same day-to-day and long-term issues you do, and brings together all of us for the greater good of the industry. ASA has endured by following this philosophy, but grown and thrived by modifying it in a unique way.

At some point in the now distant past, the leadership of ASA realized that while all members had in common the industry they served, some companies were set apart by their involvement in specialized markets. In response to the needs of these members, ASA leadership created special interest divisions to drive programming and sharing of resources among existing ASA members whose companies could be served on a deeper level, by focusing on those specialized markets and characteristics. 

First it was the Associate Member Division, now known as the Vendor Member Division, which guided industry suppliers and manufacturers and focused on the issues of interest to them, greatly different than those of the wholesalers. 

Soon after, a group of companies that had heavy concentration in the industrial and mechanical pipe, valves and fittings market joined together and formed the Industrial Piping Division. 

As the companies that founded ASA started to turn the reins over to the next generation, it became a priority to create a group that would nurture and develop these future leaders. The Young Executives Division offered information and relationships that would build a web of support to usher in the new leaders for years to come. 

This year, the Board of Directors approved the development of the Plumbing Division, which will give distributors and manufacturers involved in the distribution of standard plumbing products the ability to evaluate and deliver programs and services that address more specific issues related to that field.

Some other organizations may look at these special interest divisions and wonder why ASA would fragment itself in such a way. Doesn’t it hurt the association’s ability to fulfill its mission? Doesn’t it create deep divisions among the membership? Doesn’t it go directly against the philosophy of an association to serve the common interest of a specific group? On the contrary, these divisions have only made ASA stronger and, as a result, of greater value to its members and the industry as a whole.

As a member-run organization, you can imagine that when it comes time for the Board of Directors to develop programs, identify services, and plan events for the coming year, everyone has an opinion. This is a good thing because it means that we have a very diverse membership and we can all learn from each other. A down side is that some of the ideas apply only to a select number of companies. How does such a diverse group as the Board of Directors discuss, evaluate and prioritize all of this in a way that is timely and makes sense for the association? It doesn’t. This is where the special interest divisions show how invaluable they have become to our association. Each group has an executive council that meets regularly and works together to identify how ASA can best allocate resources to address their unique needs and create value for their members. 

By first allowing them to work amongst themselves, and then bringing them together to share their knowledge with each other, these special interest divisions educate the collective ASA membership on their arm of the industry. This structure has provided a level of understanding for all companies, which has made our association stronger. ASA members understand the “big picture” of how we’re all inter-related and provide value to each other. 

So while the term “divisions” may imply separation, to the credit of the volunteer leadership and ASA staff, the implementation of this structure has had the complete opposite effect. ASA is stronger and better able to serve the entire industry because of its divisions. Take a look at the article on page 76 of ASA News about the Plumbing Division, which goes into greater detail on the form and function of special interest divisions. Then, contact Mike Adelizzi or Chris Murin at ASA and get your company involved. Membership in ASA and one of these groups provide tangible value for your investment, and that’s certainly something we all want, regardless of how our interests divide us. 

Frank Nisonger
Slakey Bros.