Sept. 7, 2005, will mark the 90th anniversary of a Chicago meeting between dealers from across the country for the purpose of forming the National Retail Lumber Dealers Association. The organization's purpose then, as it is now as the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA), was to “elevate” retail lumber businesses.

Over the past year-and-a-half, dealers, manufacturers, and state association executives have met to develop a new Strategic Plan for NLBMDA—not for the next 90 years, but for the next three. Our discussions focused on creating the means to strengthen National to fully represent this industry's interests in Washington, D.C., and to be a resource for national trends, issues, statistics, and education.

This past March, NLBMDA's Board of Directors approved the Strategic Plan, which places a special emphasis on:

Government Affairs Legislative Affairs: One of NLBMDA's founding principles was to represent this essential industry in Washington, D.C. Today, NLBMDA will continue this vital mission by representing the industry's interests in legislative affairs before Congress, the administration, and the White House.

Regulatory Affairs: NLBMDA has long-standing relationships with agencies including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Commerce. With our federal alliances, we will keep our members informed of important issues, provide technical information, and assist dealers in complying with federal regulations.

Risk Management NLBMDA keeps dealers informed of issues concerning safety, contract negotiation, and insurance coverage. Through a series of newsletters, teleconferences, events, and programs, NLBMDA will build greater awareness of the importance of risk management in the LBM industry.

Education and Safety Programs NLBMDA believes success starts with safety. Training dealers and their employees is essential to the success of the industry. Numerous activities and programs have been and are being developed to help our members better prepare their workforce.

Networking and Events NLBMDA offers members multiple opportunities to meet and collaborate with other members of the industry. Each year NLBMDA hosts a Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., that focuses on building relationships between dealers and their representatives in Congress. The annual NLBMDA/ProSales Industry Summit will continue to attract dealers and industry professionals for education sessions and networking opportunities.

To accomplish this work, the Strategic Plan enables dealers to continue their involvement with the state LBM associations while enhancing their support to NLBMDA directly. The new Direct Dealer membership category opens NLBMDA to any dealer in the United States to join us directly, regardless of their affiliation with other organizations, and more importantly provides direct access to NLBMDA. Dealers who join NLBMDA will have enhanced opportunities to access our programs and activities. For information on how to become “Directly” involved with NLBMDA, call me at 800.634.8645.

I think you'll like what you see at NLBMDA. Your participation is welcome!

Shawn Conrad is president of NLBMDA. 800.634.8645 E-mail: