With another NetworkASA only three months away, ASA Executive Vice President Mike Adelizzi recently shared 2012 program highlights with Supply House Times as well as how the growing association plans to top last year’s highly regarded event in Las Vegas. In addition, he shared several new offerings that attendees can look forward to in Orlando this fall.
For those who have not been to NetworkASA recently, please explain the value of attending.
Adelizzi: We believe that we not only provide a level of certainty for attendees about what is coming down the pipe (no pun intended) in the PHCP and PVF industry, but also how to remain relevant and successful in the future. Wholesalers and distributors know what is happening in today’s marketplace; they live it day-to-day. What they really need help with is figuring out what is coming at them out of the blue so that they can plan ahead. That is the value of NetworkASA. When you look at the programs and educational sessions that are offered, it is clear that a great deal of thought and effort have been put into providing attendees with a glimpse of what is ahead for the industry.
Forbes, Foreman and Forecasting – that is clearly a powerful lineup. What else will attendees experience at this year’s NetworkASA?
Adelizzi: Over the past few years, NetworkASA has offered attendees a strong group of speakers - George Will, Karl Rove, Chris Wallace, Mike Ditka and Gene Simmons, just to name a few. This year, Steve Forbes, Chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media and twice a presidential candidate, will offer his insightful comments on business and politics only a few weeks before the November election. George Foreman, Friday’s Weldbend IPD Breakfast speaker, will be on hand to not only entertain but inspire guests with his stories of achievement from both the boxing and business world. Our Plumbing Breakfast will feature Dakota Meyer, a Medal of Honor recipient, who has quite a heroic story to tell from his service as a U.S. Marine in Afghanistan just three short years ago.
Something new is the 2013 Industry Forecast session where Alan Beaulieu, one of the country’s most informed economists, will provide attendees with a blueprint of what they can expect from the PHCP and PVF industry over the next several years. Alan will examine short- and long-term economic forecasts, how they will impact individual businesses, relevant economic indicators that attendees should be watching for and strategies that should be implemented.
These are just a few of the highlights that we have in store. Other features include our always-popular Wholesaler and Vendor Conference Appointments, which allow for valuable one-on-one time enhanced with formalized appointment-making software, and our keynote session featuring Stu Rothenberg, one of Washington’s most intuitive political handicappers. We have something for everyone and then some!
You are asking distributors to spend money to attend NetworkASA at a time when the economy is still uncertain. Even so, your attendance grows tremendously each year. How has ASA done it?
Adelizzi: Asking distributors to spend money was not really the issue. Asking them to take time away from their businesses is a genuine concern. Through surveying our members, we have learned that a worthwhile program, including movers and shakers such as Forbes and Foreman, and a meeting schedule that keeps downtime to a minimum is a winning combination. Because we have delivered an event that is fresh and relevant, word is out and attendance is growing each year. We think that adding a new forecasting component makes this year’s NetworkASA in Orlando even more valuable. This year, we also have plans for workshops specifically dealing with the following topics: Regulatory Issues, Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs), Succession Planning and Forecasting. We certainly make every effort to keep everyone on their toes! We want to ensure that attendees are receiving a return on their investment.
What does NetworkASA have to offer that cannot already be obtained by attending other industry meetings?
Adelizzi: After we chose not to align ourselves with a trade show any longer, we spent time looking at all of the demands on a distributor’s time and made sure we didn’t duplicate other events. It took us a year or two to get it right, but I think we have a winning mix for attendees. The key for ASA is to offer something consistent with our long-range vision. We offer speakers and sessions that will help attendees look forward and navigate the challenges that a crazy economy throws their way. It’s not always about “how to run my business better today.” It is really more about “how will I run my business better in the future and remain viable and relevant next year, 10 years or longer.”
Each year, NetworkASA programming has gotten stronger and stronger. Attendees are raving about the sessions. How big do you think the event can get?
Adelizzi: If we hit our goal in terms of wholesale firms attending this year (which is a modest increase over the number that attended last year), we will have doubled the number of wholesale firms that were attending five years ago. I’ll take that any day in a tough economy. If the event continues to grow at its current pace, it will become the premier event in the industry.
“I don’t have the funding now; I can’t take time away from my company; I already go to two buying group meetings.” Do these sound familiar to you?
Adelizzi: We’ve heard all of these and then some! What it means is that we haven’t done a good enough job expressing the strength of the program. We have built net growth in attendance over the past few years because when people experience a strong program, they return. We also believe that in the fall when NetworkASA is held is the perfect time for follow-up with your contacts from spring buying group meetings. It is still difficult for people to spend money on hotels, flights and registration fees if they are not sure about what they are going to receive in return for their investment. To those people who have never come to NetworkASA, or haven’t come in the past few years, I urge you to give it a try. You have very little to lose, but an abundance to gain!