Dear Industry Colleagues,

In my January letter, I indicated that ASA has taken great strides in improving upon all four of its key strategic initiatives (Benchmarking, Networking, Advocacy and Education) during these past few years of tremendous growth. With that in mind, Benchmarking is the key initiative that we would like to see ASA expand upon most in the new year, with a keen interest specifically in the area of forecasting. Our leadership specifically visualizes developing ASA’s benchmarking tools into a forward-looking forecasting model in 2012. 

Most of us know that ASA does a great job of providing information on what is currently happening in our industry. Those members who participate in and take advantage of ASA’s valuable Benchmarking tools such as the Monthly Sales Report, Operating Performance Report, IPD Commodity Report, Materials Market Digest and others can attest to that statement. Because of the positive feedback that we have received as a result of offering these tools, a strong Forecasting Task Force has been put into place to give us the opportunity to provide knowledge on what is about to happen.

Forecasting has always been an important part of any business model. Traditionally, the concept has been based on face-to-face meetings and common-sense thinking coupled with analysis of trends within an industry. In recent years, however, the concept has developed into a much more scientific endeavor, with a host of methods and techniques designed specifically for forecasting certain types of data. With the development of information technology and the Internet, many companies have invested an abundance of time and money in adopting sophisticated software and technologies into their own forecasting models, many times, at the end of the day with the question, “Will this work?”

One of the driving purposes of our newly formed Forecasting Task Force is to allow you and your company to avoid the headache, expense and uncertainty of having to do all of this work yourself. With the pool of resources that ASA has available, it only makes sense that we provide regular industry forecasting reports just as we have done with the Benchmarking reports. How do we do this? The system is already in place and working quickly. 

Our first task force meeting took place in the fall at NetworkASA 2011. Specifically, we have set out to parse data by industry segment including PVF, Plumbing, Hydronics, etc. The next step will be to create a prediction model, as mentioned above, that will allow ASA to become the industry forecasting expert. We can do this by collaborating with each other, sharing information and exhausting all of the resources that we have available. Moving forward, this will involve: a.) generating interest and participation; b.) making our reporting customizable; and c.) ultimately, making the reports accurate and indispensable.

We know that our Forecasting Task Force has set ambitious goals. We also know that this is an ambitious time for ASA and our industry, so the timing is perfect. What better time to reemerge as indispensable? Let’s get to work and keep the ball rolling!

Scott Weaver
APR Supply Co.