Dear Industry Colleagues,

For decades, there was a vacuum in our industry when it came to reliable business data. It was impossible to find anywhere a national snapshot of sales or inventory numbers against which you could measure the performance of your company. It was a challenge to identify and anticipate trends in order to prepare your business strategy.

Annually, ASA develops the ASA Operating Performance Report, which allows companies to submit overall data from the year and have it compared to others from around the country. It’s a great tool to be sure, and it provides detailed breakouts of data by region, company size and product specialty. Unfortunately, in this day and age, once-a-year statistics don’t cut it anymore. There was a great need for monthly data, collected and distributed in a timely manner.

When ASA’s Board of Directors sat down in 2008 and spent two days setting goals and priorities for the association, a good deal of time was spent on this very subject. Was this something ASA could do?  Was it something ASAshoulddo?  Were we the right entity to undertake such a commitment?  Time and again, the answer from Board members and influential industry citizens was “YES.”  As the national association for this industry, it was indeed up to us to lead the way and fulfill this significant need.

Since that time, ASA has developed an influential suite of benchmarking reports, which include everything from the OPR to compensation studies to monthly sales, and for a time during the darkest months of the recession, a weekly data and narrative report. Like any new program, these reports started out slowly and have grown into must-have measures for the ASA members who use them.

There are distributors who have successfully crushed price objections by sharing this information with customers, manufacturers who have crafted sales strategies that answer trends identified in the monthly sales reports, and ASA has positioned itself as the go-to resource for accurate and timely statistical information on the PHCP and PVF industry.

ASA now distributes a monthly press release to industry publications and nationally renowned business periodicals and newspapers, including theWall Street JournalandUSA Today. This has established ASA as a credible source of data for the industry and at the same time promotes the industry to customers, end-users and the public at large, raising awareness of who we are and what we do. When I started my term as ASA president, one of the issues I wanted to work on this year was to remove the invisibility cloak from around our industry and increase awareness of the important role each of our businesses play in our national economy and society as a whole.

Take a moment to consider how valuable these reports and increased visibility are to your company. Then, look at the article by Mike Adelizzi on page 52 in ASA News, bringing to your attention the actions ASA is taking on our industry’s behalf in Washington, D.C., and what it means to our existence in the future. These are just two - only two! - items that ASA is working on for each and every one of us and the viability of our companies. Add into that educational programs that raise the level of our workforce, networking opportunities that bring together supply chain partners, and the role played as a clearinghouse for information that can make our businesses more profitable and sustainable. Now, compare the value of these benefits to the cost of your annual dues. I don’t know of a greater bargain in existence.

Budget time is right around the corner. Make sure one of the first things on your “must have” list is renewing your ASA membership. If you’re currently not a member, there’s never been a more important time in our nation’s economic history for you to join with the association that works every day to create a stronger and more successful industry. Measure your success with ASA.

Frank Nisonger
Slakey Brothers