With nearly 1,300 wholesaler-distributors and hundreds of manufacturers and rep firms operating in the PHCP and PVF industry, how do you identify the leaders from the rest of the pack?

It’s actually fairly easy. Find the companies displaying the ASA logo on their websites, at the front of their offices, in their showrooms and in the lobbies of their places of business. Every day, ASA members display leadership traits through their volunteerism and dedicating their time on numerous ASA national committees, regional boards of directors, buying group organizations and even in their local community philanthropic endeavors.

According to Amy Cosper of Entrepreneur Magazine: “Great leaders do many things; however perhaps their most telling characteristic is a natural and authentic ability to inspire excellence while maintaining strength and a modicum of humility....bosses manage, leaders inspire. Anyone can manage, not everyone can lead.” This is a very accurate statement, especially in today’s world.

The individuals making up ASA’s leadership team are visionary, insightful and self-confident professionals operating with a high level of commitment to building the industry. They inspire trust, share vision and clarify purpose all while unleashing talent to inspire innovative ideas. They are adept at communicating; not just what they want done, but a clear vision of where they are going. In the process, they gain buy-in from those that follow.

According to Dirk Beveridge, founder of UnleashWD and author of “INNOVATE!”, distributors are living in the age of disruption unlike anything that has ever been experienced before. “We need leaders to emerge now more than ever because we are living in the age of disruption,” Beveridge says. “These leaders will attack the status quo as if it is the enemy and inspire their organizations to a relevant and sustainable future.”

ASA members are forever scanning the horizon to see what’s in store for their businesses. They constantly seek to position their company, staff and resources to best contend with future challenges and position their organizations to seize new opportunities. A part of preparing their businesses is to attack the status quo in their organizations that subsequently makes companies stagnant and staff complacent. They look to the American Supply Association for new ideas and to connect with leaders outside their buying groups for new and innovative ideas that are being tried around the country. They are beginning to flock to ASA-sponsored events such as UnleashWD, and to programs that challenge distributors to think well outside what is the norm to change their culture, break the sameness trap, and explore new business models.

ASA volunteer leaders are challenged to do the same for the association. The challenge is how ASA can best position itself to be an integral part of a member’s business during the age of disruption that threatens the very future of many businesses. Anyone paying attention over the past seven or eight years would have seen ASA rapidly building its financial resources, expanding its leadership
voice into numerous areas of a company’s operations from education and
advocacy to business intelligence and workforce development.

In the coming years you’ll see ASA bring its leadership to manufacturer training, expanding the association’s voice into codes and standards and advocating the use of ASA members as a preferred vendor to industry customers. These are all ideas that have been percolating in ASA’s strategic meetings for years and they are now moving to the forefront of new ASA programming. In the process, the association adds more to strengthen its membership’s position as industry leaders.

Today, few would argue that ASA is currently firmly implanted as the visionary leader in the PHCP & PVF industry. The association continues to mobilize members as the voice for advocacy, education forecasting, business intelligence and in innovation sharing. “I believe that ASA got here because its visionary volunteer leadership and staff sought to be relevant in ensuring the future of the industry and its company’s role by disrupting the status quo that had bogged down ASA a decade ago” Beveridge said. “I have had the privilege to work closely with ASA and many of its members. What’s exciting to see is that they aren’t complacent. They continue to drive culture change that advances the ability of their membership to remain relevant in the age of disruption.”