“Power Your Potential” was the theme to American Supply Association’s (ASA) Women in Industry Conference (WII), held in Savannah, Georgia in late April. The group, in its fifth year, is the fastest growing division of ASA. WII continues to provide its members networking opportunities and educational workshops/seminars and continues to be a driving force in attracting new talent to the PHCP-PVF industry.
More than 200 attendees from across the U.S. and Canada gathered for the packed three-day event. During the welcome reception and dinner, ASA President Brian Tuohey addressed the crowd and provided an update on ASA’s three major initiatives for 2018: e-commerce, expansion of the student networking program, and expanding the value of business intelligence offered by ASA. “ASA’s focus is on helping you to secure the best possible workforce for your industry. We are aggressively tackling the opportunities and challenges we will all encounter in this industry in the next 10 years. I’m looking forward to being in this audience 10 years from now, when the ASA president will be someone sitting here today, and that president looks back at what ASA has accomplished, and proudly says, ‘we did it,’” Tuohey said.
The conference is designed to empower women through multifaceted educational programs and networking opportunities. Kicking off the event was an eye-opening general session presentation by Stacey Hanke, author of “Influence in Everyday Life.” An expert on reputation management and personal perception, Hanke’s delivered an informative and interactive session on how to build trust and confidence through physical presence, speech cadence and eye contact. An example of only speaking when you are looking into the eyes of another individual, prompted much discussion. “You need to get comfortable being uncomfortable. The more uncomfortable you get, the better leader you will be” Hanke said.
The keynote presentation of achieving success in the distribution industry was delivered by Julia Klein, chairwoman and CEO at C.H. Briggs Co. Klein, a leader in the building materials distribution industry, shared her trials, travels and tribulation on her rise into leadership: “Above all, be ambitious. We are all in the gizinta business; we sell products that ‘go into’ something else. There are three lessons I learned in 30 years: first is the power of the network; the second is it’s all about the who; and lastly, don’t leave before you leave – meaning, don’t mentally check out before you check out.”
“With the future of our industry’s workforce reducing largely due to retirement, there has never been a better opportunity for women than there is now. Going to the ASA event reminds me how my role as a woman is extremely important and that hopefully women working in this workforce will be the standard in our industry,” said Alisa Shortell, M. Cooper Winsupply.
The educational seminars also made a powerful impact with presentations on negotiations, personal finance, and the ever-popular networking roundtables, where peer-to-peer discussions on topics allow perspective and to gain insight into how others are tackling challenges and finding solutions.
“I always benefit from the roundtable discussions. It’s a time where we all share, commiserate, and find a person I know I can call the next time I am struggling with implementing a marketing strategy. I learn that there is always someone in the room that has done what you need to do and can share their best practices,” said Toni Wall, The Collins Companies.
The yearly conference also includes events built for bonding outside of the meeting room, and this year the city of Savannah was the perfect backdrop. Reception and events, from a haunted pub crawl to a southern dinner cruise, allowed attendees to relax and take in the history of the city.
“ASA Women in Industry is a great network for me, not just professionally, but also personally. The organization offers great tools we can use in our professional and personal life. It is also great meeting great women in this industry that want to mentor and offer you advice from dealing with change in an organization to balancing your work and personal life. I also enjoy welcoming new people to our organization. It’s exciting to share how ASA has helped me. I stay in contact with my peers even after the meetings, and they are always there to support and bounce ideas off,” said Araceli Lee, Elkay.
For more information please visit www.asa.net