Advancing the interests of our members and industry has been a driving force for the American Supply Association, our staff and volunteer leaders. Protecting our interests in Washington, D.C., is one area that has compelled the association to build bridges with industry organizations whose interests are aligned with ASA; and it’s through these developing partnerships where ASA can be most effective. Take lobbying Congress for instance. ASA represents more than 500 industry firms and a majority of their branch locations throughout the country. In order to stop harmful or pass favorable legislation that would have an impact on our membership, it takes a consortium of all interests within the industry to be most effective. Members of ASA and non-ASA affiliated firms working together to protect the interests of the industry can be a very effective force for change.


One industry association that ASA has built bridges to advance our interest has been with the Association of Independent Manufacturers’ Representatives (AIM/R). When officers from both national associations met in February of 2013 they discussed ways for the two organizations to work more in alignment to advance industry interests. They envisioned both organizations working together to best deliver training programs to industry member employees, lobby for sound legislation and regulation, and to recruit the next generation of our industry’s labor force. Barriers toward working together, such as rep firms required to join both ASA regional groups and the national association, were removed allowing rep firms to gain ASA membership simply by joining an ASA regional affiliate. “I have enjoyed my time serving on both the ASA Education Foundation Board of Trustees and more recently the ASA Board of Directors,” said Brian Burke of Burke Agency, current Chairman of AIM/R. “As a direct result of this renewed alliance between AIM/R and ASA, our association will once again be an active participant at NETWORK2015.” For the first time since 2007, AIM/R will sponsor a seminar in Chicago (enhancing the wholesaler-rep working relationship) and will hold its popular AIM/R Principals Reception. “We are very excited to be back,” Burke added.

Today, ASA has more than 100 manufacturers representatives as members of the national association; a tenfold increase from two years ago. As a result, they are getting behind ASA’s advocacy efforts and engaging distributors
in ASA programs. In return, they have access to training, benchmarking and an emerging recruitment campaign.

“One of the challenges we face as an industry is that we are very fragmented. We consist of thousands of small family businesses, therefore our voice and efforts are relatively unnoticed. AIM/R and ASA have taken the steps to start working more closely so our industry as a whole will benefit. One of our biggest concerns is the average age of the professional plumber is now 58. By 2020 we will be facing a shortage of 165,000 plumbers. The plumber protects the health of our nation, so while this is a concern it’s also a great opportunity for many. It’s in our best interest to spread the word, work together and do what we can to fill the pipeline of our next generation of professional plumbers,” said Stew Chaffee, president, Rich-Tomkins Co., and president-elect of AIM/R.