At the heart of every successful association–or for that matter, every company–are people who think in terms of "we" instead of just "me." The key to reaching that status is not to develop your employees to think as you do but to build a bridge that connects people, even dissimilar people, to work together on areas of common interest–to create a community.

Members' sense of community is essential to an association's success. A distinctive role for the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) is to connect many individuals (dealers) to do what would otherwise be impossible or impractical for one. We provide the format for like-minded people in this industry to advocate on our behalf, to create advantages and benefits for our collective membership, share information and knowledge, provide professional development, and acknowledge achievement. Connecting people, not programs and products, is the core of what NLBMDA does.

A question that is constantly on my mind and the minds of other association executives is "How do we effectively connect people and leverage community to achieve greater organizational success?" This question could be answered a multitude of ways, but the approach that the association's leadership has taken is to focus on industry issues that can have a positive impact on a dealer's present business and on their company's future well-being.

Over the past several months, two distinctive organizations with different core purposes have been working side by side to offer our industry community valuable connections and resources. The first is NLBMDA, which represents your company's interests in the nation's capital and before federal government agencies. The second is the Lumber and Building Materials Institute (LBMI), a new organization focused on industry research, employee development, and training. Each organization offers our membership of dealers, wholesalers, distributors, co-ops, buying groups, and manufacturers a vehicle to advance both personally and professionally.

In future articles I'll provide you with examples of how our thriving community works, including stories of dealers that share their ideas and energies to increase our scope throughout the LBM industry and have been a conduit to increasing our organization's value proposition. In the meantime, if you would like to learn more about our NLBMDA community, simply contact us at NLBMDA or LBMI, 800.634.8645.

–Shawn Conrad is president of NLBMDA.

NLBMDA 2007 Meetings and Events

  • Legislative Conference / April 16?18 / Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C.
  • Executive Committee Meeting / April 16 / 9 a.m.?12 p.m. / Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C.
  • Government Affairs Committee Meeting / April 16 / 2?3 p.m. / Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C.
  • Board of Directors Meeting / April 16 / 3:30?5:30 p.m. / Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C.
  • Board of Directors Meeting / June 15?16 / San Antonio n LBM Institute Executive Council Meeting / Sept. 11?13 / Newport, R.I.
  • Industry Summit / Oct. 4?6 / JW Marriott Resort & Spa, Las Vegas