As I travel to meet with customers and suppliers, I often get the
question: why should I become a member of a trade association, be it
national or regional? What’s in it for me?
As I travel to meet with customers and suppliers, I often get the question: why should I become a member of a trade association, be it national or regional? What’s in it for me?
It’s all a matter of influencing your destination, as a business. I once worked with a business leader that was an avid sailor. He often compared business to sailing, which at first may seem odd, but I think it applies very well to our industry. When sailing, you rarely travel in a straight line from point A to point B. You know where you leave from, and you know what your objective, or destination, is. You cannot change the direction of the wind, but if you pull on the right ropes, tighten one sail, loosen up another, you will be able to sail your ship to point B, even if the wind is blowing in another direction. In other words, there are things you cannot change (the wind), but your knowledge, experience and ability to adapt will allow you to make the right decisions to attain your objectives.
Being active in the industry helps broaden your knowledge, gain from experiences shared from other members and and be better equipped to adapt your business to a perpetually changing environment. And somehow, it also affects how the wind will blow in the industry.
You may read trade publications like this one, or attend trade shows to see what others are doing and what different suppliers have to offer, but these are typically unidirectional activities. Information gets to you, and you do with it whatever you see fit. Involvement in an association is a two-way street. Members voice their concerns, share their perception of how issues affect them and how they should be tackled and, if they so wish, actually take part in the teams or committees, addressing them.
A good example of this is the ever-increasing energy efficiency requirements we face. Fenestration Canada and other regional associations have been hard at work for the last few years, meeting and discussing with regulators, drafting technical documents, assessing how proposed regulations will affect you and proposing different options, striving to shape the way the wind blows, and providing you with tools and expertise to harness that wind. Energy efficiency is probably one of the challenges we face that has garnered the most exposure, and it is not going away anytime soon. But what about other concerns you confront every day that affect the direction of your business?
Are human resources an issue, attracting, training and retaining talent? What about marketing? Procurement? Logistics? What affects you most likely affects other fabricators or distributors around the country. Get involved in your association, let other members know the way the wind is blowing for you, and what you think the industry should do about it.
Like the old saying goes: the only thing permanent is change. The industry will change, your local business environment will change, your customers will change, your suppliers will change and the regulatory requirements will change. Your business will change. Nothing ever remains static, like it or not. You can choose to absorb these changes as best you can and hope for the best, and this may be a very worthwhile strategy. On the other hand, getting involved and helping shape the way the wind blows will influence the destination of your ship.
A good chance to embark with your association is coming up next month. Win-Door North America is Fenestration Canada’s flagship event for the industry, taking place Nov. 6 to 8 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. We will be holding our general meeting at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 9, in the presentation theatre right on the show floor. This is an excellent opportunity to find out just who is involved in the association and what we have been up to over the past year. Fenestration Canada will man a booth on the show floor where you can stop in any time for a private conversation with our executives. And you can see our technical team of Jeff Baker and J.F. Kogovsek show off their knowledge in 11 a.m. seminars on the 7th and 8th. If you have ever wondered just where your association can take you, Win-Door is the place to find out.
Pierre Perreault is a sales executive for Servitek Fenestration and chairs Fenestration Canada’s Editorial Committee.
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