Is Change Easy?
Meet the Bistepual and Other AMD Challenges
by Brian P. McIlwee
Back in February, the 41st Annual AMD Convention seemed so far away—members of AMD were busily developing a strategic plan for the association, while trying to predict the futures of those of us in the millwork industry. Going into this two-day planning session, I had a key concern that participants and our facilitators were identifying channel players by different yet similar terms.
I took it upon myself to identify all the market players and define who they were. My only thought was to have the planning group use common terms during the meetings and avoid any confusion. Much to my surprise and much to the credit of the facilitators, my channel player definitions had been transformed into a deck of playing cards.
Each deck contained 15 cards—each card representing a player—from manufacturers and their competitors (the import companies) to the builders and the small retail do-it-yourself dealers. One of the first exercises was to break into four groups and arrange the playing cards on a flipchart to show the way millwork is distributed.
Before we started, the question was asked, “Will all four resulting charts pretty much look the same?” The answer was a resounding, “Yes.”
After 30 minutes of heated discussion, each group presented their channels of millwork. We quickly discovered no one chart looked like another. We learned some new terms (or made them up as we went along) as there were players that were neither one-step nor two-step distributors. Hence, the term bi-steptual was born. Hyper- and hybrid-terms were used. Charts ranged from top down, and bottom up, to center out.
The one thing they all had in common was connecting lines running every which way and around each other. We even tried our hand at color coding and using straight, dotted and squiggly lines. We had, in fact, managed to perfectly illustrate the spider web of channels that makes up today’s millwork distribution.
My father’s generation might point to the charts and say something like, “The Huns are coming from over the mountains!” However, the bottom line remains, this is the way millwork is distributed today. It continues to evolve and change as pressures are added to create efficiencies and services to fill customers’ needs. It is imperative we meet the needs of our customer base if we are to remain a viable, profitable member of the distribution channel. AMD and its members, who are well informed, educated and proactive, will be better able to change their operations to meet those demands.
AMD has recognized this, through the development of its strategic plan. It has implemented several key initiatives, made some changes in its bylaws and continues to question how we might better educate our members in the value of membership and seek to offer benefits that might encourage others to join us.
As I sit and write this article, please understand it is only mid-July, I have a lot of confidence that AMD is heading in the right direction. It has been said that “change is easy as long as it does not affect me.” Today’s changes in the millwork industry require an openness that takes one out of their comfort zone. There are issues and concepts being discussed and shared that require courage to face down, to embrace and to move forward. AMD is benefiting from the courage and leadership of a stellar group of directors and associate members who by sharing their expertise in the development of the strategic plan continue to serve this industry and all who are facing those challenges.
The 41st Annual Convention is dedicated to the millwork industry and those who serve it well—on behalf of the entire board of directors, member companies, invited guests and the AMD staff, I hope you enjoy this exciting show. We have brought in some of the most respected speakers of our time, we have the best exhibitors in the business and we welcome each of you to Salt Lake City, Utah.
None of this has been easy, but it has been exciting to look to the future and place the AMD and ourselves firmly in it.
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