Meet George Jetson, his boy Elroy, daughter Judy, Jane, his wife! I bet you can already hear the fast-paced tune of the classic 1960s cartoon. Are you imagining the cloud-level apartment buildings, flying bubble cars, a dog named Astro, and a robot maid named Rosie? If so, you probably saw the cartoon, but more importantly you still remember the predictions of what the future might hold as envisioned by the inventive minds behind the show.

Like we did as kids watching the Jetsons, this industry and its leaders also must peer into the future so that dealers are equipped to address issues and trends impacting their businesses. NLBMDA members, which include pro dealers and their suppliers, regularly discuss “strategic” plans that will better prepare the building materials industry for the future. The ideas from these discussions have led NLBMDA to create products and services to help prepare dealers for the challenges of today, tomorrow, and 10 years from now. Here are just some of the initiatives NLBMDA currently is working on:

Federal legislation and regulatory activities. Whether NLBMDA is fighting for liability reform in Congress or working with OSHA and the Department of Transportation to create new materials to assist dealers in complying with required regulations, NLBMDA is always considering the impact of government affairs on the future of your business.

Industry communications. Being prepared for the future means you must first know what the situation is today. NLBMDA provides dealers with the information they need to compete in today's markets, protect their companies, and advocate for a better future. Communications on industry news, regulatory affairs, risk management issues, and legislative activities are all sent each month directly to dealers' e-mail inboxes.

Risk management. NLBMDA has responded to dealers' desire for more resources focused on the growing concerns of safety, contract negotiation, and insurance coverage by creating the Risk Management Committee. As a result, training programs now are in development to assist dealers in complying with OSHA and DOT regulations for fleet and lumberyard safety. These videos will be the first in a full series of training programs.

Education. A core principle of education is the importance of learning information today that you can apply tomorrow. NLBMDA recognizes the need for continuing education in the LBM industry and is providing dealers with the tools to educate and train their employees with the latest techniques and tips for management development and financial skills, material handling management, sales, and customer service. All of these subjects are part of a new National Education initiative to deliver high-quality affordable training to dealers nationwide.

Emerging issues. NLBMDA continues to scour the industry for the latest issues and trends that may affect dealers in the future. New issues such as green building and persistent issues like mold are being monitored.

NLBMDA is delivering all this information and more to dealers using 21st-century formats like our Training Without Travel teleconferences, our new electronic Industry Newsletter, our redesigned Web site,, and monthly e-mail updates. We may not live in the Jetson's version of the future, but NLBMDA is committed to developing new ways to harness information and technology to make dealers' jobs easier, more efficient, and more effective.

Shawn Conrad is president of NLBMDA. 800.634.8645 E-mail: [email protected]