Dear Industry Colleagues,

As I write my monthly letter, I am at the point of completing the great majority of my annual ASA presidential duties.

Earlier this year, I embarked on several busy weeks of travel which involved representing ASA at a series of industry events throughout the country.  As my predecessors as ASA president can tell you, this involves providing association updates at various regional meetings, including gatherings of the Midwest Distributors Association, the Wholesalers Association of the Northeast, the North Central Wholesalers Association, the Southern Wholesalers Association, the Western Suppliers Association and others. 

By the time this letter is printed, NetworkASA 2013 in Washington, D.C., will have been completed; also a very busy time. While these are not only some of the busiest times in the life of every ASA president, they also are some of the most rewarding and meaningful.  I would personally like to thank all of you for your kind words and support during these times as they are most certainly a positive reflection on where we are headed as an association.

In addition to an attendance-record-setting NetworkASA 2013 event, perhaps one of the most rewarding events on the ASA docket this year was the ASA Young Executives’ Annual Spring Forum in Kansas City, Mo. This group of up-and-coming industry leaders has met each spring for many years, sharing thoughts and ideas with their peers, working to achieve common goals, learning from subject-matter experts and each other, and managing to have some fun in the process. 

This year’s event attracted its largest attendance in more than 10 years, with 100 attendees representing two industry buying groups, 31 wholesalers, 23 manufacturers/vendors and nine independent manufacturer firms. These are significant increases over recent years in terms of the number of attendees and companies, which have consistently trended upward.

At the many events I have attended throughout 2013, it has been reinforced to me quite clearly that one thing is for certain; we can be proud to say that we continue to be part of a relationship-based industry.  In a communication-hungry world filled with social media, Twitter, blogs and the need for instantaneous communication in all aspects of our lives, it is refreshing to see our industry still values the face-to-face relationship. I began attending ASA meetings many years ago and continue to have regular conversations with many of the people I met at those meetings. 

The uptick in attendance at the Young Executives’ Spring Forum means some of those attendees were meeting each other for the first time. Hopefully, they will look back several years down the road and say the same thing that I can about those that I have met through this industry over time.

 In today’s unbelievably fast-paced world, we should regularly remind ourselves to take a few important things into consideration. Our business relationships, for instance, are a constant that we should nurture and care for regularly, regardless of how busy we are. Without them, our industry just wouldn’t be the same.