Benefits of membership: STAFDA

By Georgia Foley, Executive Director, STAFDA

Georgia Foley, Executive Director, STAFDAIn these times of budget cuts, layoffs and declining profits, many companies re-evaluate memberships in trade associations and their participation in industry trade shows. Businesses will stay involved only with those organizations from which they derive the most value.

Not many associations can say they’ve never had a member dues increase. When STAFDA (Specialty Tools & Fasteners Distributors Association) was established in 1977, annual dues were set at $350. Today in 2009, membership dues are still just $350 a year, less than $1 a day. Keeping dues low has helped STAFDA grow from 18 members in 1977 to over 2,750 today.

In addition, by continually adding new services to the array of existing programs, STAFDA brings even more value to its members. It is that rare service where benefits increase each year, while the cost, in inflation-indexed dollars, decreases.

STAFDA’s Annual Convention & Trade Show has also grown, helped by low costs. The convention registration fee has been $190/per person for many years and allows people to experience three days of educational programs, great networking opportunities, a General Session featuring internationally recognized keynote speakers, enjoyable social events, and of course, access to STAFDA’s members-only Trade Show.

The 900-booth show fees sell below the exhibit industry average: 10’x10’ for $1,100 and 10’x20’ for $2,200. STAFDA’s Trade Show is a bargain compared to other construction industry and non-industry  trade shows.

During tough times businesses often cut back on employee training. Sending folks to seminars or workshops isn’t the easy option it was a few years ago. STAFDA recognizes this and is bringing more education to members’ offices this year. A series of Webinars this year allow employees to listen to experts like Tom Reilly talking about selling in down markets and how to crush price objections; Abe WalkingBear Sanchez addressing accounts receivable issues; and economist Alan Beaulieu offering insights on when this recession will end and how to prepare for that “brighter day.”

More employees are studying on their own and STAFDA has had success with a series of training manuals. In 2005, Counter Pro, a 140-page book focused on inside selling skills, was introduced.

In late 2006, Tom Reilly wrote Sales Pro specifically for STAFDA members. He spent eight months researching and interviewing STAFDA outside salespeople, their managers and end-users to develop a broad, yet detailed, look at how outside salespeople can become more effective professionals.

In December 2007, STAFDA issued Foundations of a Business, which offers a soup-to-nuts overview on the different facets of a distributorship. Written primarily for new hires, each STAFDA consultant wrote a chapter on the “basics” of what a new employee needs to know about distributor operations – from inventory, profitability, accounts receivable, human resources, warehousing and more.

This year, the training manual trilogy is being expanded. STAFDA has hired Greg Gorman to research and write a showroom design and merchandising book. He’ll explain how distributors can create visually attractive showrooms to help drive sales. Gorman is visiting several STAFDA distributors so he’ll be able to show and describe what works and what can be done better.

Another training manual is also in the works. STAFDA has engaged disaster expert, Mike Foster, who’ll work with STAFDA insurance consultant, Doug Austin, Sentry
Insurance, to publish a manual on disaster preparedness. Mike will cover what companies need to know to get their businesses up and running again, and Doug will tackle the questions victims face when their firms are ravaged by natural disaster. It’ll be a one-two punch type of book which, hopefully, members never have to use, but if they do, they’ll have answers at their fingertips.

These two training manuals will be released in late summer/early fall. As always, each member receives a complimentary copy with more available at discounted prices.  

We recognize that companies are taking a sharp pencil to every line item in their budget. However, between STAFDA’s low dues, low convention fees, training manuals, quality educational programs, benchmarking reports, annual 500-page Member Directory and 65 other services – STAFDA offers extraordinary value to its members.  

(Not a STAFDA member? Learn how you can benefit by visiting or calling 800-352-2981).