The Industrial Supply Association has been a pillar in the industrial products market since its 1902 origins, and its presence is largely felt at its annual convention, which just wrapped up Monday in Denver.
The event is always an excellent opportunity for industrial distributors and suppliers to form new business relationships and enhance existing ones, as well as a chance for ISA to promote education and innovation throughout the industry.
Last August, ISA made waves with the announcement of Ed Gerber as its new president and CEO. Gerber, who previously served as vice president of sales and marketing for Hagemeyer-Industrial Distribution Group (now Vallen Distribution)’s northeast and western regions, spoke at the convention about the association’s brand building and new tools it will soon be offering member distributors and suppliers.
Immediately following ISA’s opening session on Saturday, I was able to chat with Gerber 1-on-1 about the association’s new direction, new developments and tools it will soon be offering its members, as well as its new website to be launched later this year.
According to Gerber, ISA aims to change its fundamentals.
“Right now we’re in the middle of a new rebranding initiative,” Gerber told me. “It starts in our purpose. We completely redefined our purpose. ISA today is all about helping people develop and advance their companies and careers. We’ve redefined what that means. We’re all about education.”
During his opening keynote speech in a Denver Convention Center ballroom filled with ISA members, Gerber said his goal is to elevate ISA from a “convention-first” association to an “association that also has a convention”.
On the education front, ISA looks to build professional development through a new informative series called ISA360, which will be made available to download from the ISA website. The association also plans to have standalone education summits apart from the convention.
“There’s a lot of excitement there,” Gerber said about ISA360 and the group’s overall education push. “There’s a lot of good things happening.”
Furthering that, ISA will be doing new benchmarking for its membership, to be launched in Q1 2018. The benchmarking will be comprised of economic data aimed to show members how the industry economy is doing relative to their specific business performance.
“It won’t be gut-feel. It’ll be real,” Gerber said about the offering, alluding that the benchmarking data will provide reliable data distributors and suppliers can use to gauge business conditions instead of relying on intuition.
On top of that, ISA will be launching a revamped website in Q4 of this year, aimed to be more centralized and make educational content easy to find.
“It’ll be a website not only for new and existing members, but for convention registration and will be much easier to use,” Gerber said. “Right now you have to go to multiple places to find things. From a user experience, it’s going to be what everyone would expect a website to be. There will be a lot of interactive data back-and-forth with the networks and people. It’ll be a smart website.”