The highly acclaimed “Hamilton” is the current must-see Broadway play.

But “Hamilton” will have some company in that “must-attend” regard when the PHCP-PVF industry’s premier event, the American Supply Association’s Network2016, plays New York City Sept. 28-30 at the historic Waldorf Astoria hotel.

“There is so much to gain by attending NetworkASA, including getting some quality time with our loyal customers and manufacturing colleagues,” says Bradford White Director of Marketing Carl Pinto, whose company hosts the opening evening reception gala. “The level of information that ASA brings to the table at this event genuinely helps its members stay dialed in to industry trends as well as the evolving needs of the wholesale community.”

Elkay Executive Vice President Mark Whittington calls the benefits of NetworkASA “far-reaching” for the suburban Chicago manufacturer. “First, we show our support and dedication to our industry organization as a Platinum sponsor,” he says. “Second, we get to attend a number of outstanding educational sessions and network events, including several great nationally recognized speakers. Finally, we have face-to-face appointments with many of our key customers and informal meetings with many others. It’s a great use of our time and resources.”

Karla Neupert Hockley, president of Tigard, Ore-based Consolidated Supply, adds: “We participate in Network because it offers a great educational component and the opportunity to network with fellow distributors and vendors.”


Learning curve

ASA Executive Vice President Mike Adelizzi notes the association continues to raise the bar with the quality and quantity of its educational sessions at the convention.

Speaker, author, consultant and Supply House Times columnist Dirk Beveridge kicks off the educational portion of Network Wednesday, Sept. 28 with a talk on reimagining distributor and manufacturer relationships in the age of innovation. He immediately follows that with another session that focuses on nine questions to reimagine distributor and manufacturer relationships.



Other educational presenters include Brent Grover (“Strategic Planning for Distributors”), Steven Handmaker (“Strategic Employee Engagement to Drive Business Results”), Jim Pancero (“How Will You Attract the Best Millennials to your Sales Team?”) and Justin King (“Shift Happens — Build Customer Loyalty & Increase Revenue Through E-Commerce”).

Two other recent convention hits return in the form of the AIM/R forum for manufacturers representatives and the Meet the Pros (industry experts and veterans) sessions.

“The education sessions always provide great value for us,” says Viega Vice President of Sales and Marketing Dalyn Cantrell, whose company is sponsoring Grover’s session on strategic planning for distributors. “The schedule is packed with great in-focus sessions, offering a wealth of knowledge.”


Pulse of the marketplace

As always, one of the most anticipated events on the Network schedule is the annual industry forecast, which is delivered by one of the ITR Economics brother duo of Alan and Brian Beaulieu, with the latter doing the honors at the Waldorf this time. Alan Beaulieu provided Supply House Times with a sneak peek into what his brother will be talking about on Friday morning, Sept. 30, in front of what certainly will be another packed house.

“Leading indicators and consumer trends are encouraging for 2017,” Alan Beaulieu says. “The economy is not without its issues, but overall economic growth is on the horizon. Brian will provide details on the good and the not-so-good at the meeting, but attendees should leave with some sense of optimism for 2017.”

In addition to many networking opportunities, the annual wholesaler-vendor conference appointments take place Thursday afternoon, Sept. 29. Last year’s event had more than $14 billion of business represented.

“We look forward to the individual wholesaler meetings, which allows us a chance to connect with our customers,” says Anderson Metals National Plumbing Sales Manager Jerry Mitchell, whose company hosts the Industrial Piping Division breakfast on the morning of Sept. 29. “ASA provides us an opportunity to take a ‘pulse’ of how the industry is doing. In addition, it allows us to strengthen relationships with our customers.”

Jay Hults, of Warren, Mich.-based distributor Progressive Plumbing Supply, adds: “Our annual convention gives me the opportunity to re-connect with fellow distributors and also with our current vendors and those we aren’t currently doing business with. The sharing of ideas ‘in the hallway’ with leaders of our industry gives me ideas to take home and put to use.”


The main eventers

And Network wouldn’t be Network without a host of well-known keynote speakers. Former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino is first up on Sept. 29 at the IPD Breakfast sponsored by Anderson Metals.

Writer and television commentator Stephen Hayes, who was well-received when he spoke at an ASA legislative fly-in event several years back, will talk about the political landscape and its impact on policy during the InSinkErator ASA annual meeting and member luncheon on Sept. 29.

“I’m looking forward to hearing about the election and the political landscape and the effect that will have on America and our business. I’m also looking forward to the economic forecasts,” says Frank Nisonger, of Northern California-based distributor Slakey Brothers.

Fox News Channel’s Neil Cavuto delivers his “Business in America; Where Do We Go From Here? (And Where is Here?)” talk during the Kohler Plumbing Division breakfast on Sept. 30.

General Michael Hayden, a retired four-star general, wraps things up during the A. O. Smith Future Trends lunch on Sept. 30 with his “Protecting American Interests in a World at Crisis” keynote.

“Network is educational, engaging and an excellent way to build our business,” Rheem Vice President of Sales Tom Wujcik says. “The convention gives us an opportunity to have direct face-to-face conversations with other industry professionals. This quality time is extremely valuable when it comes to building a solid business relationship.”

Brian Tuohey, president of East Windsor, Conn.-based The Collins Companies, says his company derives several benefits from the convention. “We treat the convention as a thank-you and an enjoyable retreat for all our managers and their spouses,” he says. “They thoroughly enjoy the presentations, the comradery with their peers and the mini-vacation aspect in a new city each year. Having my entire management team there allows us to discuss the new ideas and innovations presented in ‘live time’ directly after we hear them.”

A. O. Smith Vice President of Marketing David Chisolm says Network is top-tier event on the company’s calendar because “of the feedback we get from our industry partners.”

“From product and program development to customer service, the insights we gain from a typical Network event always are put to good use,” he adds. “I’m most excited about connecting with my friends and colleagues who I might not have seen recently. This is a great opportunity to build and reconnect relationships from many facets within the industry. Network is a great way to get a ‘pulse’ of your business, as well as a gauge for the macro-environment all in one place. It’s refreshing to see so many people aligned around a common goal of growing and supporting our industry.”


This article was originally titled “Better than ever” in the September 2016 print edition of Supply House Times.