From file "034_pss" entitled "PSBRFS11.qxd" page 01
From file "034_pss" entitled "PSBRFS11.qxd" page 01

A friend of mine who manages a trade association here in Washington, D.C., recently told me about a marketing program that a coffee store chain has unveiled. This ad campaign has received a lot of attention because of what it says and what it doesn't say about people's priorities.

The concept that the java chain is promoting is that the company's goal is to be the third priority in a person's life, behind their family and their job. This lofty goal has gotten the attention of not only coffee drinkers but religious groups and drive-time radio talk show hosts wondering where the “higher authority” ends up on this pecking order. Whether this omission was intentional or not, the company has received extra media coverage and provided an opportunity for many to re-examine priorities. This is a good thing.

For the sake of argument, let's place drinking lattes and Frappuccinos in the top five most important things in one's daily life. My take on all of this is that in the scheme of things even when one's faith is listed, the coffee chain still has it wrong—somewhere on this list, before drinking expensive coffee, should be your involvement with your respective trade association.

Newly appointed NLBMDA chair Kevin Hancock addresses attendees during the NLBMDA/ProSales Industry Summit last month.

Trade associations and specifically the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) and our affiliated state associations play a pivotal role in positively impacting your work and family environment. Participating in your trade organization has been proven to create opportunities to learn from peers and keep up with trends and issues that can impact your business. All it takes is that one time that you come away from an association meeting with a nugget of information that is then applied back at the yard or office; you'll know firsthand that the time away from work was worthwhile. The one statement that I always enjoy hearing from industry members is that they “get more from their association participation than they put into it.” I typically hear it from a volunteer leader who has just ended his or her term on a committee or our Board of Directors. The magic happens when you get involved.

Involvement can come in many ways. One day you could be participating in a roundtable discussion, another day you could be phoning your congressman to support legislation that benefits your company. Or perhaps your employees are utilizing industry statistics or training modules to help make your company even more successful.

Your family also can enjoy your time with a trade association. Over the past three years, I've attended industry meetings where families wouldn't think of missing the convention or function because they wouldn't get to see the close friends they have made through their involvement.

While accepting the chair's gavel last month, NLBMDA chairman Kevin Hancock, CEO of Hancock Lumber in Casco, Maine, mentioned the many people in this industry who had asked him to step up to the plate over the years, to get involved and share his expertise for the good of the industry. Kevin also thanked dealers from across the country, people he would not have had a chance to meet if not for his involvement with the association. One of Kevin's goals for the coming year is to reach out to as many dealers as possible, and he invited them to experience firsthand the important role NLBMDA and their state association can play in their lives.

Visit to join NLBMDA and contact me at to learn which committees may be of interest to you. On top of all the great experiences that await you at NLBMDA, we also serve a great cup of coffee—and bagels! —Shawn Conrad is president of NLBMDA.