As the only national industry association, the American Supply Association is in a unique position to drive change that benefits the entire industry.
Since ASA has opened a full-time satellite office in Washington D.C, the association has been building coalitions that help leverage our ability to succeed in critical areas such as protecting LIFO, securing marketplace fairness, promoting America’s energy independence and protecting our industry’s small businesses through comprehensive tax reform.
An important coalition we’ve worked hard to build upon the past five years has been our expanding partnership with the industry’s buying groups. When ASA established its Long Range Strategic Plan seven years ago, an important component of that plan was to build strong ties with the industry’s viable buying groups. Today, ASA has strong active relationships with Embassy, WIT, Affiliated Distributors, Omni and Equity.
The leadership of the buying groups has opened their meetings enabling ASA the opportunity to educate buying-group members on the value of ASA. In addition to exposing buying-group members on the value of partnering with the association, buying-group staff members play a role in ASA committees and the association’s divisional structure, ensuring our organizations are aligned and moving together in the same direction.
Advocacy Gaining Momentum
One of ASAs greatest strengths as an association is its industry leadership role in Washington, D.C. For the past five years, ASA’s full-time presence in our nation’s capital has created the opportunity to provide input (a seat at the table) when debate on issues is beginning and a voice when legislation is presented. Our voice has been a leading one on issues of importance such as protecting LIFO and advancing a level playing field as it pertains to the Internet sales tax debate.
But any national trade association is only as effective as the players in the industry are engaged. So it’s been our strategy to partner with the industry’s buying groups and all their members to conduct meetings in Washington and allow ASA to facilitate meetings with members of Congress resulting in a total engagement of the industry in ASA’s advocacy process. Hundreds of companies and thousands of people backing ASA’s efforts will make a powerful voice.
We are pleased that later this fall WIT will conduct its shareholders meeting in Washington and partner with ASA for visits with elected leaders, thus becoming the first group to follow ASA’s lead. Following WIT will be AD, which travels to Washington in the spring of 2016 and Embassy in the fall of 2017 — all working with ASA to create a powerful and unrelenting voice for the industry.
Imagine the impact as hundreds of industry businesses, members of ASA as well as non-members every year working together to protect the interests of the industry through ASA’s leadership forming a relentless assault in support of the issues affecting our industry. Roughly seven years ago ASA saw buying groups as a competitor. Today, we have become partners for ensuring our future — a huge sea of change.
Advocacy is not the only area where building coalitions with buying groups is providing results. Buying groups have started to partner with ASA to collect business intelligence to provide a more defined vision of economic and business trends for firms to better navigate turbulent and uncertain times. The annual Operating Performance Report is one such success where ASA members and several buying groups have joined to collect data that is creating improved reporting and value to the industry
While the relationship between the buying groups and ASA has strengthened over the past few years, we still have a ways to go before all the members in every buying group see value in partnering with ASA by joining the association to advance their ability and the interests of a strong unified industry.