Visionary. That’s a word often used to describe people or companies with unusually keen foresight. Being a visionary is often linked to achieving success in unconventional and progressive ways. When asked, many companies consider training their people to be a fundamental building block of success, not something unconventional or progressive. Yet, few actually follow through on developing and implementing a training program, and for the majority of companies in this industry, it is the first line item to be cut during tenuous times, or for some, it’s not even in their scope of vision.   

When asked why, the replies vary from not interested to too busy to no budget. Yet, countless studies have shown that untrained employees can cost a company customers, can cause losses and can greatly affect profits.   

Having a working and consistent training program should not be considered visionary. A goal of the ASA Education Foundation is to move that perception of training from being an “extra” to what it truly is - a fundamental element of a highly profitable company. 

LOOKING BACK

For years, the ASA Education Foundation has been recognized as a valuable provider of industry education and training. EF-developed courses on product knowledge, business basics, customer service and sales training have been the cornerstone of industry training.  With these programs now delivered in an interactive and online format within ASAU Online, the Education Foundation is now positioned to further help the industry train its workforce. Yet with all these strengths, the EF has been ill-equipped to help the industry develop and maintain company training programs. That’s about to change.

IN PLAIN SIGHT

In November of 2009, the ASA Education Foundation Board of Trustees, the governing group for the Foundation who determine the goals and the direction of the EF, created ASA University in direct response to the void seen in accessible assistance in starting, developing and maintaining company training programs. ASA University encompasses all that the ASAEF has to offer; the workshops, the product training, the business training, self-study, online training.   

"ASA's stated goal is to help members' employees become the best trained, best educated and most professional in the industry. The Foundation has developed some really good stuff to meet that goal, but many members are so busy they can't devote the time to determining what materials to use or how best to launch a training program,” shares Mark Hanley, president of the ASA Education Foundation Board of Trustees. “ASA University is designed to fill that void - to provide a comprehensive curriculum in sales, leadership, warehouse management, finance and purchasing, utilizing the best training materials available. Much of the Foundation's material that will be a part of the curriculum is already on-line and interactive, meeting the needs of the up-and-coming generation."

SEEING THE FUTURE

The true strength of ASA University will unveil itself within the established five colleges of industry training. 

Industry distributors and manufacturers are working together to identify the core competencies critical to success in each concentration found in the colleges.  Once these competencies are identified, the volunteers prioritize the multiple key behaviors associated with each one. For example, the College of Sales/Sales Management has listed “Outside Sales” as a major job function within the college. Core competencies include: Sales Ability/Persuasiveness, Customer Focus, Contributing to Team Success, just to name a few.  Each competency has multiple key behaviors associated with it, such as “demonstrates ability to integrate channel partners into sales opportunities” and “learns and demonstrates understanding of basic business analytic skills and their application to customers’ businesses.”  Each of these key behaviors is then mapped to an objective and matched with an opportunity for training. If there is no acceptable training to educate on a key behavior, that will become the focus of EF development going forward.   

The final result will be clear training tracks for virtually every job function within the PHCP/Industrial PVF distribution industry and ultimately, certification programs, such as Branch Management Certification. Recommended training will include vetted third-party resources as well as EF-developed training and checklists, mentor programs and other elements of a comprehensive approach to training.  

The Competency Models and Curricula Tracks will be available as early as Fall of 2011 for Sales and Leadership Colleges through the ASA Education Foundation Web site and within ASAU Online. Companies will be able to find training either through job position, competency/key behavior needed, College of interest and more.   

"The strategies and tactics that led to success ten years ago are less and less effective today. The market now requires different skill sets to maintain and improve efficiency and profitability. Through ASA University, companies soon will have the ability to address those needs in a turn-key and cost effective manner."  

For more information on the ASA Education Foundation, visit the Education section of www.asa.net.

2011 ASA Education Foundation Board of Trustees

The work of the ASA Education Foundation is led by a group of dedicated and focused individuals who direct and facilitate the goals of the Foundation.  

Mark Hanley, President - Hajoca Corp, Conroe, TX
Joe Maiale, President-Elect - InSinkErator, Racine, WI
John Mills, Treasurer - WHCI Plumbing Supply Co., Union City, CA
Michael Adelizzi, Secretary - American Supply Association, Chicago, IL
Amy Black - ASA Education Foundation, Chicago, IL              
Ron Black - Southern Pipe & Supply, Meridian, MS
Robert Blades - F.W. Webb Co., Portland, ME
Brian Burke - Burke Agency, Inc., Walled Lake, MI
Dennis Crump - National Wholesale Supply, Mesquite, TX
Doug Dillon - Kohler Co., Kohler, WI
Christopher Fasano - Torrington Supply Co., Inc., Waterbury, CT
Todd Ford - Central States Industrial Supply, Inc., Omaha, NE
Vickie Johnson - WinWholesale, Inc., Dayton, OH
Bill Kenny, ASA President - Kenny Pipe & Supply Inc., Nashville, TN
Peter Martineau - A. O. Smith, Ashland City, TN
Pamela Mouton - Coburn Supply Company, Inc., Lafayette, LA
Brian Tuohey - Collins Pipe & Supply Co., Inc., East Windsor, CT

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