Volume 48, Issue 5 - September/October 2009
Networking and Connecting with Partners is More Important than Ever
by Larry Ray, architectural consultant for GHDC Inc. in Tupelo, Miss., and immediate past president of the Association of Millwork Distributors. Mr. Rays opinions are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect those of this magazine.
The ongoing consequences of financial markets have been frustrating for those
in the building products industry. I applaud the creative efforts of those who
have persevered and endured, not only in our industry, but all independently-owned
businesses. Most efforts have focused on cost cutting and/or cost containment
resulting in lean, trim and focused organizations that can and will build on
solid foundations for the future.
As we consider the future, with all the possibilities for re-growth and prosperity, let us not forget the basics that helped us grow our companies from their infancy. Phrases like Where do you find? and Who do you know? have been replaced by connected and networking, and they still mean the same to small- and medium-size businesses. It is the art of doing business in small-town America.
In the process of cutting costs to the bone, have companies started to sacrifice the intangibles of networking and connecting? After all, dont these still take place at our local homebuilders association meetings, local civic clubs and charitable events that put us in touch with other people and eventually prospective customers? And, did we not refer to networking when we rubbed shoulders with our friends and neighbors at such events?
Over the past several months, I have assisted the Association of Millwork Distributors (AMD) in the areas of membership recruitment and retention. Two reasons are most often used to explain the non-commitment of membership: first, the financial stress and burden, and, second, a lack of perceived value. My first response to this mindset is to re-sell networking and connecting because these represent the value offered by trade organizations such as the AMD, and for that matter, your local organizations that I mentioned earlier.
Connecting people through networking cannot be measured easily in terms of dollars and cents and remains among the most valuable intangible benefits offered by membership at AMD. Trade associations are a good example of member-based organizations that must strive to add value to the membership by offering enhanced benefits. AMD has invested in added value with new programs, even in these challenging economic times. This year, AMD launched Simply Certified, an AMD certification program, offering an array of certification programs through its partnership with the National Accreditation and Management Institute (NAMI). This program is designed to meet code requirements. The association also launched a new website making it easier to navigate with added resources for its members.
"Whether you serve at
the retail, distribution or the manufacturing level, some intangibles will never
be expressed on the bottom line of a balance sheet."
An Accurate Assumption
Through this publication, as I address the many levels of the building products industry, it is understood that no one solution will fit all. Whether you serve at the retail, distribution or the manufacturing level, some intangibles will never be expressed on the bottom line of a balance sheet. If networking served us well in the growing years, would it be reasonable to assume that networking will play an equally important role as we emerge from this recession?
You bet it will. Why? Because distributors need to talk to their vendors and vendors need to talk to their distributors. I do mean TALK. No, I dont mean in an e-mail. They cant hear what you really want to say, what you really meant to convey and they cant hear your voice that reassures this is where we are or were with you on this. Especially today, people need to communicate face to face.
AMD is providing the opportunity for networking and connecting at the 45th Annual Convention in San Antonio October 7-12, 2009, where industry professionals can come together to solidify ideas and strategies as they anticipate 2010. You can connect with one another and address various methods to revitalize individual businesses and the millwork industry. Touch the intangible benefits by spending time networking and connecting. Ill see you there.
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