As my predecessors as ASA president have communicated very well in this column over the years, a key ASA focus is to give members the ability to grow and prosper.

Historically, ASA has been successful in providing opportunities for upper-level management, company principals and upcoming industry leaders. The association also realizes the strength of a member company firm lies within its core. How do those who are essential to the everyday operations of a member firm network and gain information to help their company succeed? Up until recently, this has been a challenge for ASA. ASA’s Peer Networking Councils now bring networking and educational opportunities to all departments within a member firm.

The leadership of ASA had the vision of developing the Peer Networking Councils a few years ago with the general idea that all areas within a company have challenges and issues that can be addressed by networking with industry peers. The Peer Networking Councils were formed according to the following responsibilities within a company: CFO’s, showroom managers, trainers, human-resource professionals and warehouse and operations professionals. One year ago, ASA’s Networking Councils restructured, rebranded and retooled themselves to better fits the needs of the groups.

The current lineup of councils includes: Finance Networking Council, Training and Human Resources Council, Showroom Managers Council, and the Logistics and Operations Council. The Finance Networking Council, formerly the CFO Council, has recently rebranded to allow for a larger audience. The council regularly meets to discuss items such as succession planning and will meet again this October in Chicago regarding corporate governance.

The Training and Human Resources Council, formerly the Trainers Council, has rebranded to allow for a larger scope in audience as well. This active group has a busy ongoing webinar schedule and regularly discusses items such as team building, leadership, hiring and onboarding, and recruitment and retention of employees. They have a webinar scheduled Oct. 18 titled “Building Development Plans from the Succession Planning Process.”

The Showroom Managers Council has held an in-person event in conjunction with KBIS the last several years that is well-attended. Last year, they also had a successful event in Dallas and the group continues to have regular educational webinars on all topics regarding operating a successful showroom. The Logistics and Operations Council, formerly the Warehouse and Operations Council, is another group that has retooled to allow for a larger audience. A face-to-face meeting this month in Chicago focused on “Developing the Most Effective Logistics Strategies.” The group will meet again Oct. 4 for a webinar with The Distribution Team’s Jason Bader entitled “Creating a Dead Stock Plan.”

To continue the momentum, ASA staff continues to work hard to collect key member contact information — allowing us to reach out to the correct contact person within your firm to communicate with them about activities of each of the specific Peer Networking Councils.

For more information on participating in ASA’s Peer Networking Councils and to find out which face-to-face meetings and webinars are planned for each group for the remainder of 2016, please visit or contact Maria Marchesi for more details at or 630/467-0000, ext. 210.