The weather wasn’t typical of Southern California in May. A little much-needed rain and cool temperatures didn’t do much to chill attendees of the 48th Pacific Southwest Distributors Associationannual convention at the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort in Indian Wells, Calif., May 14-17.
Robert Bluth, executive vice president of the Scottsdale-based association, said the Western market is cautiously optimistic in these post-recession days. Companies that call the West their home know the market is recovering, he said.
“They’ve had a couple pretty good years,” he said, noting the group’s sphere of influence encompasses Southern California, Southern Nevada, Arizona and Utah. “With the exception of, perhaps Las Vegas, the other areas have picked up considerably.”
One sure sign of a recovering economy is attendance at trade shows and swelling association membership rolls. While registrant and attendee totals weren’t available at deadline, Bluth said the group was “about 15 hotel rooms ahead” of the previous edition of the event.
“One of the things we’ve really worked on is increasing our membership. We’ve worked hard on that, particularly on the vendor side,” he said. “The wholesalers have been very active with us of late. That’s been a great boon to our membership.”
Mike Adelizzi, executive vice president of the American Supply Association, speaking to the assembled group during the “ASA Review” portion of Friday morning’s events, said his association, too, has been prowling for membership and developing programs to cater to members.
“Just this week we found net membership growth for the fourth year in a row,” Adelizzi reported. “In light of consolidation and everything else that’s going on after a 20-year net decline in membership we are now going up with membership. In fact we’ll have at least a 10 percent increase by the end of the year. ASA is definitely on an upswing.”
Highlights of new things at ASA include an improved financial position and a reconnection with the core things associations do: “We used to be in the technology business. Associations can’t do technology,” Adelizzi said. “That’s for private companies because they’re constantly investing and we weren’t. We killed our trade show and made our convention more of a smaller, more integrated networking opportunity with a lot of education and some dynamic speakers. We don’t have trade shows anymore.”
Friday morning’s speakers included Todd Talbot, president of Fluidmasterin San Juan Capistrano, Calif., who both challenged the industry to innovate and called attention to the fact manufacturers rep firms play a key role in satisfactorily communicating those innovations to the buying public. He noted the company has been sitting in tall cotton the past few years by expanding into Chinese and European markets.
“We do have a manufacturing facility in China,” he said. “In fact, it’s our smallest manufacturing facility servicing markets such as Hong Kong and Australia, which are now very significant markets for us. The future’s quite bright as we continue to grow because people do things differently all over the world.”
Future expansion plans call for possible Fluidmaster moves into Brazil and onto the Australian continent. India also is an important emerging market for the company: “There is a huge population there and more than half of the population does not have access to indoor plumbing.”
The 2016 PSDA annual convention will return to the Renaissance Esmeralda in May, 2016 for the 49th annual get-together. Check the PSDA Event Calendar, bit.ly/1FzMBpT, to be the first to know when dates are finalized.