The Importance of Associations

I’m at the NWFA convention this week and I think this is a good minute to talk about the importance of associations.

I think my writing is familiar to many. I blogged for the Association for six years before I took my break. And as most of you know that for those years, as with many before, the Association outsourced publication of Hardwood Floors Magazine. Last year the NWFA decided to bring the publication in-house. When that happened, the previous publisher created a new independent magazine. I note this because I want to avoid confusion—with my permission, my old blogs remain up on the third party site. I wish them well–I enjoyed working with them and I know they are trying to do right by the industry. However when it became time to make a choice, I decided that I would continue my blogging under the Association’s umbrella because I’m a true believer in the power of a good association as well as in the need to give back to the industry.

Consider what you expect from your professional association. A good association needs to be a source of information, of standards, of training. A good association needs to be a place where friendly (and even not so friendly) competitors can meet and find common ground, where they can work toward shared goals. A good association needs to provide a common brand to help support members’ marketing and a common set of terminology to help explain the issues of the day. A good association can be an industry’s representative with government or other organizations. Most importantly, a good association needs to help coordinate between different market positions and should put the overall growth and health of the entire industry ahead of one segment. It’s a lot to juggle and it only works if we all participate.

If you’re here at the Expo, good for you. That’s a big part of getting your money’s worth out of membership. Say hi to the staff and say thank you as well—running something this big is crazy challenging.

Just think about it. The NWFA membership includes the largest manufacturers and single one person shops. It covers distributors and importers, installers and inspectors, retailers and providers of a multitude of accessories and services—that’s an exhaustingly broad membership, all of which have very different needs.

The NWFA membership is a bargain. A lot of companies join just so they can use the logo, and if that’s all you want from them, then it’s ok. But the real value comes by participating in the Association’s offerings: the Expo, the educational programs, utilizing the resource books, and of course, this magazine (both online and in print). And I always feel you get back what you put in. We get a lot from a good association and we owe the industry more than just dues. So I’m back to blogging for the Association because it’s working hard for me and I owe it what I can offer in return.

Have a great convention. If you see me, say hi and “welcome back,” and feel free to request posts. But more importantly, look for NWFA staffers and thank them. Volunteer to help in some way. Sign up for a class. You get back what you put in.

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