CSA Articles:

Times Are Good, But Keep Your Eye on the Ball

Jim MoodyBy Jim Moody, CAE
CSA President

I’ve run into a lot of dealers recently who are talking about how great sales are right now. Some are from the metro Atlanta area, which everyone knows is very hot. But many are from more rural areas. I’ve talked to dealers in all of our states who are experiencing extraordinary times.

A dealer in a very rural area told me that March was his company’s best month ever. Another in a market that is a bit driven by second homes told me that 2017 was likely going to be their best year ever.

I know that everyone is not experiencing pre-2006 levels just yet, but I don’t think I’ve run across anyone who wasn’t experiencing strong growth. But with that growth come some challenges.  READ MORE


2017 Georgia Legislative Update

Katie Base RobertsReview of Legislative Days 36-40

By Katie Base Roberts
Director of Governmental Affairs
Fiveash Stanley, Inc.

Adjournment
Early in the morning of March 31, the General Assembly concluded the 2017 session.  The House and Senate again worked past midnight of the last legislative day, dismissing the tradition that the day should not span multiple calendar days.  The General Assembly finally adjourned sine die just before 1 a.m.

Governor Nathan Deal now has forty days to review and act on the bills that passed the legislature.  Those that did not make it to the Governor remain eligible for consideration again in the 2018 General Assembly. Bills that did not make the Crossover Day deadline appear in an abbreviated form in the following legislative report.  READ MORE


Batter Up: How CSA Membership Can Be a Game-Changer for Dealers

Katie BodifordBy Katie Bodiford
CSA Director of Meetings & Membership

Membership. Webster’s defines this word as “being a member of a group.” Although it’s sort of a cardboard description of the term, that truly is the basic meaning.

Having spent the past 22+ years serving as an association executive in several different industries, the term “membership” has been the sole focus of my career. For me, membership is at the core of what I do and it matters deeply how that word is viewed by the companies that comprise our organization.

In June of last year, the CSA Board of Directors gathered to discuss the strategic vision of our organization as we navigate through the next three years.  READ MORE

member spotlight graphicFamily-Owned Sandersville Building Supply Celebrates Success

Jim and Jimmy Croome credit much of their business success to the solid relationship they've built as father and son. They admit they share a "laid-back" personality and tend to approach challenges in similar ways, which makes decision-making easier. But even when they don't initially see eye-to-eye, they reach agreement pretty quickly.

"We don't always agree," Jim said recently, "so we talk until we can both live with the decision."

Making decisions is only one of the ways that this father-son team works well together. READ MORE


2017 Georgia Legislative Update

Katie Base RobertsReview of Legislative Days 29-35

By Katie Base Roberts
Director of Governmental Affairs
Fiveash Stanley, Inc.

Flow of Legislation Slowly Resumes
During Week 9, the General Assembly was in session Monday through Thursday.  Despite a busy committee meeting schedule, many bills were only given hearings.  Keeping a bill trapped in committee allows the committee chair to use it as leverage to nudge along priority legislation that has stalled in the opposite chamber.

This was no more evident than in the Rules Committees, where very few bills were placed on debate calendars, despite a growing list of eligible legislation.  The stalemate began to turn at the end of the week and the House and Senate will consider a combined 18 bills when they return on Monday.  With only five legislative days remaining, the pace will quicken as sine die approaches. READ MORE


Wide Open Job Market Creates New Challenges for Business

Jim MoodyBy Jim Moody, CAE
CSA President

I stumbled across a couple of news items about the job market this week that made me stop and think. No, I’m not looking for a job. But many of you ARE looking for employees. If you are in that boat, you probably already know that the tide has turned.It’s not so easy to find good candidates, not that it was ever really easy.  READ MORE


2017 Georgia Legislative Update

Katie Base RobertsReview of Legislative Days 21-28

By Katie Base Roberts
Director of Governmental Affairs
Fiveash Stanley, Inc.

Crossover Day
Crossover Day, the all-important deadline for a bill to be adopted by its originating chamber, came and went last Friday, March 3.

Legislation that was not adopted by one chamber by the end of Friday is lost as a standalone measure this year.  However, a bill is never truly dead until the Legislature adjourns sine die; advocates often attach the entire contents of lost legislation to related active bills through the amendment process in an effort to see their proposal enacted.  Vigilance becomes even more important as the session moves into the frenetic final days.

Bills that did not make the Crossover Day deadline appear in an abbreviated form in the following legislative report. READ MORE


Holmes Building Materials Donates Materials to Rebuild Flooded Homes

In Louisiana, family is everything, and at Baton Rouge-based Holmes Building Materials, family includes more than just the owners of the business. Family includes the company's 120 employees, thousands of customers, and the community at large. And never was helping family more important than during the aftermath of the worst flooding in the state's history.

Last August, heavy rainfall pushed more than 10 Louisiana rivers above their banks, flooding more than 146,000 homes statewide. Almost 75 percent of homes in Livingston Parish were considered "a total loss." Holmes Building Supply serves Livingston Parish, among several others, and many of its employees lived there.

As flood waters receded, third-generation owner John Holmes took stock of the situation. The company's two locations were spared. Physically, he said, business could resume as usual, but from a human standpoint, almost half of his team members were devastated. They couldn't come back to work until they had sorted out their living arrangements. John said his first priority was to take care of his work family.  READ MORE


2017 Georgia Legislative Update

Katie RobertsReview of Legislative Days 17-20

By Katie Base Roberts
Director of Governmental Affairs

Fiveash Stanley, Inc.

Session Reaches Midway Point

Last week the legislature met Tuesday through Friday.  Friday was legislative day 20, midway point in the forty-day session.  With the session waning, the pressure is on to move bills before the Crossover Day deadline on Friday, March 3.

This week the legislature was off on Monday in observance of Presidentâ•’s Day.  They are meeting Tuesday through Friday. READ MORE

Have You Been Hacked?

By Chris Rader
Rader Solutions

CSA is partnering with Chris Rader this year to help members reduce technology risk and improve their use of technology. Articles like this one will appear regularly, and Chris will also be conducting webinars on various topics. He will also facilitate users groups for companies using Spruce and BisTrack software. Chris owns Rader Solutions, which provides technology expertise and hosting for building material dealers across the country.

I'm sure you've read about major hacking incidents in the news lately. Again and again, large corporations have had to apologize to customers for putting their personal information at risk. The numbers are staggering.

In September 2016, Yahoo announced that a data breach had occurred sometime in late 2014, affecting more than 500 million Yahoo user accounts.  Then in December 2016, the company announced that another, much larger breach had occurred in 2013, affecting more than one billion user accounts. That's billion with a "B."

During the first announced Yahoo breach, thieves stole names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth and passwords from Yahoo users.  During the second, they were even more sophisticated and used "forged cookies" or "web cookies" to gain access. By using forged cookies, they were able to break into accounts without passwords by falsifying login credentials.

With the number of affected users soaring into the billions, I'm sure you've wondered if you're at risk.  READ MORE


It's Time to Post Your Illness and Injury Data

Victor ShellBy Victor Shell
CSA Director of Safety & Transportation

Happy New Year, everyone!

2017 has ushered in many changes, including a new OSHA rule about posting and reporting illness and injury data for your shop on Form 300A.

Post Your Illness and Injury Data
As in previous years, OSHA requires that you post your illness and injury data, using Form 300A, between Feb. 1 and April 30.

What Has Changed From Last Year?
This year OSHA has added a new twist to the game of record keeping. This is how it affects you and your business:

  • Our industry falls under OSHA's building material & supplies dealers category and is considered a high-risk industry.
  • To be in compliance this year, dealers must not only post the 300A form, they must also submit the form to the OSHA website electronically.
  • OSHA's electronic reporting portal will go live in February 2017.  READ MORE


 Driver MVRs Must Have Proof of Medical Certification

Victor ShellBy Victor Shell
CSA Director of Safety & Transportation

Did you know that carriers are required to obtain MVRs on drivers to verify that the state has received their med card status?  Your answer should be YES!

In fact, the MVR document that you are required to have in your DQ file should verify that the driver is medically qualified. This was a permanent change to the regulation that became effective in January 2012.   As of January 2015, the medical card itself can only be used for 15 days from the date it was issued.   This regulation has been strictly enforced during 2016!

Speakers at the 2017 FMCSR Drug/Alcohol Clearinghouse seminar stressed the importance of keeping your files up to date. I want to ensure that all CSA members are double checking the MVRs they have on file and are compliant with this regulation.

When your drivers obtain their new medical cards, the examiners should submit them to the state DMV. The information is then reported on the MVR.  READ MORE


2017 Georgia Legislative Update -- Week 2

Katie RobertsReview of Legislative Days 5-8

By Katie Base Roberts
Director of Governmental Affairs

Fiveash Stanley, Inc.

Legislators Return
After taking a break for budget hearings, legislators returned to Atlanta on Jan. 23 and introduced a number of bills that will drive their work for the remainder of the 2017 session.  Legislation related to taxation, casinos and government accountability commanded the time and attention of everyone in the Capitol, signaling the beginning of real action.

On Thursday, the House adopted a supplemental budget that shores up state spending for the balance of FY2017, which runs through June 30.  The Senate will now consider and amend that bill, while the House shifts their focus to the larger FY2018 budget.  Passing a balanced budget is one of the few constitutionally mandated items the General Assembly must address.

Lawmakers will meet Monday through Thursday next week, Jan 30-Feb. 2.  READ MORE


What Is Your Purpose?

Katie BodifordBy Katie Bodiford
CSA Director of Meetings & Membership

While representing CSA at the HDW Spring Market last week in Hot Springs, Ark., I was asked one question more than any other. As folks that were unfamiliar with our organization would stop by our booth they would ask, “So what is it that you do exactly?”

If there is anything that helps you define your purpose, it is being asked that question hundreds of times within the span of a few days. What does CSA do? And how could it be beneficial to their company? Truthfully, on a trade show floor filled with people selling everything from faucets and ladders to cowboy hats and penguin umbrellas, it’s a bit hard to “display” the value of an association membership. But as I soon learned, sharing a bit about what we’ve got going on this year seemed to convey just how CSA works to meet the needs of independent LBM dealers.

So, what do we have going on this year? Quite a bit and the list is still growing.  READ MORE


 2017 Georgia Legislative Update -- Week 1

Katie Base RobertsReview of Legislative Days 1-4

By Katie Base Roberts
Director of Governmental Affairs
Fiveash Stanley, Inc.

2017 General Assembly Underway

The 2017 General Assembly convened Monday, January 9.  This first day of session was largely ceremonial, with the certification of election results and legislators swearing their oath of office.  Members then installed legislative leadership.  In the House, members reelected David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) as Speaker and Jan Jones (R-Milton) as Speaker Pro Tem.  In the Senate, David Shafer (R-Duluth) was easily reelected as President Pro Tem.

The remaining days in session were uneventful, save for Governor Nathan Deal’s State of the State address on Wednesday.  The Governor touted the state’s job growth, healthy rainy day fund, and increase in state revenues, which will be used to finance pay increases for law enforcement and other state employees.

Next week the legislature will not officially meet, but will be in Atlanta for joint budget meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Many Republicans will travel to Washington, DC for the inauguration of President-Elect Donald Trump on Friday, January 20.  The legislature will reconvene on Monday, January 23.  READ MORE


CSA Launching Users Groups for BisTrack and Spruce

By Jim Moody, CAE
CSA President

I mentioned in the last issue of Framework (and I KNOW you read every word) that we were beginning a technology initiative in 2017. Part of the initiative is to convene users groups for some of the newer POS platforms. Specifically, we are ready to announce details for our BisTrack and Spruce users groups.

Please note: We  are not endorsing these products or even intending to convey that these products are better than anything else. We simply have enough dealers on these platforms to give us critical mass for a users group. If we see demand for a group on a different platform, we will start a users group for them as well.

We actually ran a pilot test for BisTrack last year with a lot of success, and learned a couple of things to make the programs better.  READ MORE


New Administration and Congress Plan Ambitious Agenda for 2017

By Ben Gann
NLBMDA Director of Government Affairs

The start of 2017 begins with a new Congress and Donald Trump set to be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. Republicans control both legislative chambers and the executive branch for the first time in 10 years.

House Republican leaders have planned an aggressive agenda in Trump's first year as president, and are looking at repealing Obama-era regulations, reforming the tax code, making major changes to the Affordable Care Act, and passing an infrastructure spending package. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has compared the 2017 House schedule to the one in 1994 when Republicans were very active after taking control of the lower chamber for the first time in 40 years.  READ MORE


 2017 Georgia Legislative Session Preview

Katie RobertsBy Katie Base Roberts
Director of Governmental Affairs

Fiveash Stanley, Inc.

Legislature Convened Monday
The 2017 Georgia General Assembly convened Monday, Jan. 9, and will last forty working days, typically stretching into early spring.  Although they do not face reelection this year, lawmakers have little interest in lingering in Atlanta longer than necessary.  Delays may be unavoidable, however, as the political overhaul in Washington, D.C., is certain to impact Georgia's budget process.

During the first week, lawmakers will meet through Thursday, ticking off four largely ceremonial legislative days.  Although the House and Senate remain comfortably under Republican majority, each chamber will swear-in new members from both parties.  Since the beginning of the 2015 session, the legislature has experienced a turnover rate of nearly 30 percent.  READ MORE


 CSA Plans for 2017: HR and Technology on the Horizon

By Jim Moody, CAE
CSA President

As we finish out 2016 and perhaps catch our breaths, I want to let you know about some plans we have for 2017 that I hope you’ll find interesting.

Workforce Development/HR
We’ve been dabbling in this area for a couple of years. We’ve offered a stand-alone workshop and have tried to include something related to HR in our all-member meetings. We’ve offered some webinars as well. The feedback has been positive, and members continue to tell us that dealing with the broader HR function is something many people struggle with.

The time seems right for us to jump into this area with full force. I’m in the process of searching for a full-time staff member with expertise in this area. Our goal is to do for HR what we do for safety – provide an expert in the area to provide assistance and raise the bar for the industry. We know that most of our members have someone “doing” HR, but most often that person wears multiple hats. It’s tough for that person to stay on top of the whole HR function. READ MORE


 Hubert Lang Leaves Legacy of Success, Kindness

By Jim Moody, CAE
CSA President

Most of us approach the end of the year with a lot of excitement. It’s a time to celebrate, rest, have fun with family, and seek closure on lots of projects. For one member of the CSA family, that’s particularly true this year. Hubert Lang of Lang Building Supply in Brunswick, Ga., is retiring at the end of the year.

Hubert is well regarded by his peers. He’s been an active member of a roundtable for as long as anyone can remember, and every other dealer in that roundtable would tell you Hubert is as fine of a person as you could ever find. He’s humble, kind, generous and brilliant. When you think of the kind of person that makes our industry special, Hubert absolutely belongs in the discussion.

Hubert LangI got to know Hubert really well a few years ago. His sister-in-law was ill with cancer. She lived pretty close to the CSA office – a fairly long haul from Brunswick. Hubert caught a ride with me from a roundtable meeting to join his wife, Linda, for the weekend as they cared for their loved one. We had a long time to chat. It became clear to me that Hubert and Linda came up very often to help his brother-in-law care for his sick wife and young daughter. Hubert and Linda gave tirelessly – because that’s what you do for family.

Hubert also gave of himself for many years as a trustee for our self-insured worker’s comp fund. For the past eight years or so, he’s been the vice chair. There is no compensation for being a trustee, and it requires a lot of work to gain the expertise needed to do the job. There were a couple of long stints in there (more than a year long each) where the trustees had no staff support and had to handle a lot of the administration themselves. But Hubert was happy to do it, giving back to the industry that was so important to him.  READ MORE


A Few Things I'm Thankful For

By Jim Moody, CAE
CSA President

As we all prepare to gather with friends and family to celebrate Thanksgiving, it seems appropriate to let you know why I’m thankful this season.

Here are a few of the things for which I give thanks:

  • The 20 pounds I said goodbye to. There are still 20 more who apparently really, really want to hang around. Hopefully I can get them to move along after the holidays.
  • High school football. The sense of community it builds is one I really enjoy. Fortunately my team’s still playing (likely to change by 10:15 Friday night). I used to enjoy college football, too. This season? Not so much. When beating Kentucky on a last second field goal is a step in the right direction, you know you’ve been down pretty low.
  • The end of humidity for a few months. But, I’d be OK with a little rain.READ MORE

Saying Goodbye

By Jim Moody, CAE
CSA President

In the past six weeks or so, I’ve heard of several dealers who are parting ways with senior managers. Meanwhile, I’m serving as a shoulder to cry on for my wife as she deals with a difficult situation with a long-tenured, senior employee she manages. Between the insights I've had with a couple of the dealers and the conversations I’ve had at home, I’ve come to recognize a few things.

First, there are times when it’s clear that someone needs to go and we choose to do nothing about it.  READ MORE


CSA Announces Board Nominations

By Jim Moody, CAE
CSA President

It’s time again for CSA to renew itself by selecting board members to replace those who are rotating off.

One of the biggest challenges in constructing a board is finding people who will say "yes." We’re all conditioned to immediately say "no" because our conception of board service – whatever the board – is negative. We assume it will be time consuming, non-productive and boring. That’s because for most boards, that’s the reality.

CSA’s board is a bit different than most. We are focused on strategy and the future. Most boards I’ve been a part of seem to spend more time looking backwards.  READ MORE


Managing Setbacks

By Jim Moody, CAE
CSA President

One of my biggest personal challenges is my weight. I have a genetic predisposition for a large belly, and I tend to like sweets a lot more than green things (unless they are sour apple Jolly Ranchers). For more times than I care to count, I’ve gotten large and then exercised it off only to repeat the cycle.

Sometime in May I decided I had gotten big enough and started running again. Running has proven to be the thing I can keep up the longest and has the best results. Unfortunately I’ve aged to the point that I can’t exercise my way out of being fat. I have modified the diet a bit and lost about half the weight I need to lose. READ MORE


 Don't Ignore Generational Differences

By Jim Moody, CAE
CSA President

A couple of weeks ago I was at a conference with my counterparts who run other regional LBM associations. The theme of the conference was building a Next Generation Association.

We hear a lot of talk about generational stuff, but rarely do we get down to the level where we talk about how we need to change our businesses to adapt. It's much easier (and fun) to talk about the weaknesses of Gen X and Gen Y (sometimes called the Millenials). They have no loyalty to a company. Their work ethic is questionable. They always seem to be on their phones. They don't seem to accept responsibility well. If it's not fun, they aren't interested. You've heard them all before, and they are all true to a point. (There are also negative characteristics of "older" generations, but we never seem to dwell on those.)

The sad fact is that Gen X and Gen Y are the way they are because we made them that way. READ MORE


 Mississippi & Louisiana Legislative Update

Steve BrowningBy Steve Browning, CSA Lobbyist
Hayes Dent Public Strategies

Mississippi
The Mississippi Legislature completed its Regular Session earlier than normal this year. Much has already been written about the accomplishments of this Session, but one major success was the passage of Taxpayer Relief Act of 2016 and its phase out of the state franchise tax.

As many of you know the state franchise tax is a tax that businesses pay on their investments. Even if you have no state income tax liability, you likely pay a steep franchise tax to the state. The tax is typically assessed at $2.50 for every $1000 of capital invested in Mississippi. As you might expect this tax discourages investment.  READ MORE


 What's Your Most Profitable Thing?

By Jim Moody, CAE
CSA President

I got a lot of feedback on the last issue of Framework, mainly from people who took exception to my Michael Jackson lyrics. I will refrain from referring to ‘80s music for the time being, but it’s your loss.

One good comment I got, however, was about margin. One of our member companies has been on a mission to improve margin since their roundtable meeting in the spring. Part of that quest has been detailed analysis on different product lines to see where they really were making money, and where they weren’t.

They came to the realization that some of the most profitable items were things they never would have put at the top of the list. “I recently discovered that I make more GM off of Yeti cups than I do on Sakrete. That is crazy if you understand the volume of Sakrete we move!”

This dealer suggested we query our members on what one thing (product or service) is most profitable for their business. I think that’s a great idea.  READ MORE


Are You as Profitable as You Want to Be?

By Jim Moody, CAE
CSA President

Well, here we are halfway through the year. The threat of terrorism still plagues us. We are in political hell. And, global economic uncertainties make us wonder whether we are on a slippery slope back to recession.

Yet for all of this, the housing market seems to be humming along nicely. I’ve met with probably 75 different dealers over the past six months, and nearly every one has told me they are busy. Many folks are hiring again to cope with increased business.

So my question for you today is this: Are you making enough money to be happy? Are your profits sufficient to rebuild your balance sheet? Is your return on investment enough to justify the risk you take each day opening the doors to your business?

If the answer is yes, then good for you. Read no further. But if the answer is no or perhaps even maybe, then I have some more questions for you.

READ MORE


 What I Told ProSales Magazine

By Jim Moody, CAE
CSA President

My good friend Craig Webb, editor of ProSales, contacted me the other day to pick my brain on some issues. Most people who pick my brain find that there’s not much left to pick, but I shared what little I know with Craig. Following are some of his questions and the answers I gave him based on conversations I’ve heard during our spring roundtable season. 

Are you seeing dealers use any particular metrics more often these days than they used to? If so, which ones? I would bet people have been measuring gross profit, gross margin, and net profit from the beginning of time. But are you noticing any dealers that have begun putting other metrics into their regular tallies of performance? READ MORE


Don't Be Held Prisoner

Jason RobersonBy Jason Roberson
Director of Lumber and Building Materials
Rader Solution

I hate to write this and sound as if Chicken Little is telling you that the sky is falling.  I wanted to issue a warning on something called Ransomware.  You might ask, “Ransom what?” 

Ransomware is a type of malicious attack on a person or companies computers that locks up data.  The organization that does this then requires you to pay them in electronic currency to unlock your files to get them back.  It’s a ransom of your data from criminals.  The people who are creating these attacks are from a foreign country, almost untraceable, and are making a great deal of profit doing this.  The FBI has seen a significant increase in this type of attack in 2015 and into 2016. 

It’s really a nasty thing and if the attack gets by your security it really complicates your operations.  I wager that if you asked around in your LBM round tables or to friends in other markets someone will have a story about an attack.

The malicious attack generally comes from an email with an attached file that is opened, that file then installs and starts locking up files on the PC.  It may also come from web pages that ask you to download an open a file.  Once the malicious software is installed on a PC on the network, the software will look for other vulnerable machines on that network to attack including servers.

So how do you prevent it?  READ MORE


What is Your Next Opportunity to Lead?

By Jim Moody, CAE
CSA President

“You don’t just sell things. You sell your knowledge of materials and building. You are the building experts in your town.”

Craig Webb, editor-in-chief of ProSales and Remodeling, made this comment during his review of industry trends at the CSA Annual Meeting last year. He suggested that understanding industry trends can provide new direction and new markets for dealers throughout the United States. When you are the expert in your town, customers will turn to you for your knowledge, as well as your products. In no particular order, here are some suggestions for expanding your markets through expert knowledge:

Indoor Air Quality
As architects and builders work to create tighter homes with increasingly sophisticated filtration systems, they are addressing health issues involving dust mites, molds and other allergens. Craig quote these statistics: families living in homes that have been retrofitted have seen a 67 percent decline in emergency room visits. Aetna Insurance saves more than $800 for every asthma-related hospital visit and $8,800 for each asthma-related hospital stay that can be eliminated due to better indoor air quality. Improving indoor air quality is similar to recognizing the danger of lead paint in the 1970s. READ MORE


 Bits and Pieces: People Issues, LA Legislative Victory, Health Insurance

By Jim Moody, CAE
CSA President

We’re starting to hear a lot of members talking about problems with “the people thing.” As I’ve been to roundtables this spring, I’ve heard it time and time again. Finding and keeping good people is a lot tougher than it used to be. We just conducted a summit in Birmingham on this topic and found that we’d hit a nerve.

So often we think about HR in terms of compliance, and certainly that’s been a big issue in the past couple of weeks with the issuance of the rules on overtime by the Obama administration. But HR is much broader than that, and it’s a lot harder to do well than the “simple” compliance things. At the summit, we talked about recruitment and continuous performance appraisal among other things. The attendees asked us to continue this discussion, perhaps through a roundtable where people with similar interests meet a couple times per year.

It’s not often that your customers (in our case, members) tell you in such clear terms what they want, so we will certainly take that to heart and make plans to offer more along those lines.  READ MORE


The Survival Strategy for Independent Dealers

By Jim Moody, CAE
CSA President

 

Strategy is something we don’t spend a lot of time thinking or talking about in our industry, but it’s really important. Strategy is a plan designed to achieve an overall goal, usually over a long period of time. It’s how you do what you do. It’s how you differentiate yourself from your competitors. It’s how you achieve your mission. (Mission is also important, but it’s another discussion for another day.)

When I look at marketing materials from independent dealers, I typically see one of two things. I’ll either see “locally owned since 19XX” or something along the lines of “We deliver service.” Frankly, both of these taglines stink as messages to your customers. Why do I say that?

READ MORE


 CSA Fund Issues Dividend; Makes the World a Better Place for Members

By Jim Moody, CAE
CSA President

Most of you are aware that CSA offers a self-insured fund for workers' comp insurance in Georgia. It’s a unique program that sends all of its profits back to Fund members as dividends.

I wish we could expand our program to other states, but Georgia state law prohibits the Fund from crossing state lines (except when simply delivering materials). We’ve looked at ways to start new Funds in other states, but today’s market realities are quite different than the ones that existed when our Georgia Fund began. Although it’s technically possible to do it, every one of our trusted advisors tells us it would be foolish to try.

But, for those of you in Georgia, this remains a financially lucrative opportunity. READ MORE


Can Your Service Compete With This? I Sure Hope So!

By Jim Moody, CAE
CSA President

I recently suffered through my annual bad service experience at a well-known, big-box store where employees (if you can find one) wear orange.

It reminded me how difficult it is to be all things to all people. It is tough to offer a zillion SKUs, be a low price leader and provide great service all at the same time. Sometimes I think big boxes can’t even get two of the three.

So here’s my story. I needed a hosemobile. My old one sprang a leak, and Peachtree City frowns upon leaving your garden hose lying out in your front yard. So off I went early Saturday morning. Keep in mind that it’s spring – prime garden season. I’m not the only person looking to do yard work. But when I drive up, is the garden center entrance from the parking lot open? Nope. Not really a big deal to walk through the store, but it was a harbinger of things to come. READ MORE


 The "People Part": How CSA Tools Can Make It Easier

Katie BodifordBy Katie Bodiford
CSA Director of Meetings & Membership

If there is one thing about working with independent businesses that I enjoy the most, it’s the people part. Whether it’s a “mom ‘n pop” operation in a rural area or a larger company with multiple-line yards, there is a common vibe among our members — a genuine care for their people. Although we focus a lot on acquiring and retaining customers, the people I’m referring to are folks who make a company tick:  the employees.

In our quest to meet the continually-evolving needs of our members, CSA is focusing on ways to help our members develop and streamline resources to effectively manage the human resources function in their business. An often-overlooked area in the strategic plan of most companies, the management and development of your workforce can be an untapped source of efficiency improvement and a key to the overall health of a company. READ MORE


 2016 Georgia Legislative Session Update -- Legislative Days 36 - 38

Katie RobertsBy Katie Base Roberts
Director of Governmental Affairs

Fiveash Stanley, Inc.

Final Week Approaches
With the 2016 edition of the Georgia General Assembly nearing an end, activity under the Gold Dome is busier than ever.  The legislature met well into the evening Monday through Wednesday this week in a final push to finish their work.  As is always the case this time of year, several legislators saw their bills hijacked, gutted and loaded with new language to resurrect otherwise lifeless legislation before the clock runs out.

Next week, lawmakers will meet Tuesday, March 23 for day 39 and Thursday, March 24 for day 40, the last day of session.  These final days are dangerous, and your Government Affairs Team remains vigilant until the last bell of the 2016 session rings at midnight next Thursday. READ MORE


2016 Georgia Legislative Session Update -- Legislative Days 30 - 31

Katie RobertsBy Katie Base Roberts
Director of Governmental Affairs

Fiveash Stanley, Inc.

Crossover Day Arrives
The House and Senate worked into the evening on Monday to consider as much legislation as possible on Crossover Day.  This important procedural milestone is the deadline for a bill to be adopted by its authoring chamber.  Bills that have been adopted then “crossover” to the other chamber for consideration during the remaining legislative days.

Measures that do not crossover are technically dead, but as anyone who has spent time under the Gold Dome can tell you, nothing is ever truly dead until the session closes at midnight on day 40.  Advocates of lost measures will tack language on to active bills of a similar subject matter.  Sometimes the amendment makes little different to the General Assembly, but often the additional language sinks the underlying bill, either because it is contentious or lawmakers object to circumventing the committee process.  Your Government Affairs Team remains alert to friendly and hostile amendments. READ MORE


Are Your Hands Clean?

Victor ShellBy Victor Shell
CSA Director of Safety & Transportation

Have you ever considered how important it is to have clean hands? Washing your hand is the single best way to keep from getting sick. Regularly washing your hands helps to kill viruses that cause the common cold and the flu.

Do you know that it is your responsibility to make hand washing available to your employees? Have your employees been informed that they must wash their hands before returning to work after leaving the restroom facilities? Should you document this information? So, I ask are your hands clean? READ MORE


It Pays to Get Rid of Toxicity

By Jim Moody, CAE
CSA President

We all know intuitively that there are some employees who are really good at their work but make everyone else miserable. Maybe they have an abrasive style or stab people in the back. They angrily demand the impossible for everyone but themselves. You could call them workplace bullies.

You’d think that people like that would be terminated quickly, but they often are not. I bet you’ve had one you kept on for far too long. I’ve done the same thing.

I ran across a Harvard study a couple of weeks ago that put a really interesting spin on this. It termed these folks “toxic employees.” The study says we tend to keep them on the payroll because by and large they either are (or are at least perceived to be) top-notch performers. We believe that the value they bring outweighs the mess they leave in their wake. READ MORE


Mississippi & Louisiana Legislative Update

Steve BrowningBy Steve Browning, CSA Lobbyist
Hayes Dent Public Strategies

The MS Legislature returned to Jackson Tuesday (1/6) at noon to begin a four year term.  Rep. Philip Gunn and Rep. Greg Snowden were re-elected as Speaker and Speaker Pro-Tem, respectively.  Lt. Governor Tate Reeves was sworn in to a second term in this office while Sen. Terry Burton was elected President Pro-Tem.

All committees have been named and committee chairmen have been selected…..so the framework for the next four years has been established.

We continue to review all bills which are important to the construction supplier industry.  We hope to see meaningful legislation which gives our members tax relief….franchise tax and accelerated sales tax relief to be exact. READ MORE


2016 Georgia Legislative Session Update -- Legislative Days 21 - 24

Katie RobertsBy Katie Base Roberts
Director of Governmental Affairs

Fiveash Stanley, Inc.

 

Legislative Days Grow Longer

For the first time this year, on Tuesday the House had too many bills on their debate calendar to consider them all before lunch and had to reconvene in the afternoon.  When this happens, committees do not meet until late in the day and Capitol Hill stays active well into the evening.  This informal tipping point is a surefire indication that leadership have one eye on the short legislative calendar and another on the immense volume of active legislation.

Next week lawmakers will meet every day as they race towards Crossover Day on February 29.  Expect session to run late and committees to run even later as legislators work to position bills for consideration before this important milestone. READ MORE


2016 Georgia Legislative Session Update -- Legislative Days 13 - 16

Katie RobertsBy Katie Base Roberts
Director of Governmental Affairs

Fiveash Stanley, Inc.

Bills Begin to Move

As was the case last week, committee activity has continued at an active pace.  Throughout Capitol Hill, various committees meet throughout the day to consider and vote on a variety of policy issues. 

Several long-anticipated bills were introduced this week and will likely receive hearings when the legislature returns on Monday.

There is plenty of time left in the session for members to advance their initiatives through the process, but the calendar will become a factor as the midway point grows near.

Next week promises to be the liveliest yet.  READ MORE


Brother Gene, Jesus and the Piggly Wiggly

By Jim Moody, CAE
CSA President

I had a lesson in indignation a couple of weeks ago. I was in a restroom in the Atlanta airport, and a guy was smoking in a stall. It was illegal, and it was rude. As he walked out I had a strong impulse to confront him in a holier-than-thou manner.

But in that moment, I flashed back to a memory from adolescence that stopped me in my tracks. It’s a lesson from church, but not exactly the kind you’d expect from a religious institution.

I grew up Baptist. Very Baptist. READ MORE

 


State of the Association: Lots Going On This Year

By Jim Moody, CAE
CSA President

We recently endured (or enjoyed, depending on your perspective) President Obama's final State of the Union address. It reminded me that it's a good thing to keep people informed on the state of things from time to time. So, with that in mind, I'd like to give you an update on where CSA is at the moment and where I see us heading.

READ MORE


2016 Georgia Legislative Session Update -- Legislative Days 6 - 8

By Katie Base Roberts
Director of Governmental Affairs

Fiveash Stanley, Inc.

Georgia House Begins Work on Budget
Reporting on Jan. 22, 2016: The legislature wrapped up the Legislative Day 8 this morning and hit the road in response to a winter weather forecast.  Before leaving, they did succeed in adopting a calendar for the rest of the session, which is scheduled to conclude on March 24.

The focus this week has been on the state budget.  The FY2017 budget sets spending from July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017.  The Governor recommends spending based on projected revenue, and the House and Senate spend the session negotiating the final plan.

Action in other committees has been very slow thus far, but that will change when lawmakers return next week.  Budget writers will continue to work on appropriations as the rank and file legislators turn their attention to various policy issues.

READ MORE


CSA to Launch Initiative to Help with Workforce Issues

By Jim Moody, CAE
CSA President

We often hear people in service industries (like ours) say  “our people are our most important asset.” While we’d like that to be the case, the reality is we often don’t back up this claim with solid workforce planning that helps reinforce that value.

Many dealers can point to people who’ve been with them 20 or even 30 years, but we sometimes forget the positions that seem to churn constantly. We place a high value on how knowledgeable our people are (“our folks know way more than the people down the street at the national chain”), but as an industry we spend very little on training. We want to grow our business, but we often fail to set operational goals that flow down to the employees on the lower rungs of the org chart. And who among us can honestly say they have a meaningful performance appraisal system that works?

READ MORE


Hark the Herald, Hammers Swing

 By Jim Moody, CAE
CSA President

 Here we are at the end of another year. It’s my 10th Christmas/New Year at CSA. Some have been good; some have been less than stellar. This one seems better than any since 2006. By the end of 2007, we all sensed that very bad times were around the corner even if some folks had not felt it just yet. Sort of like you can smell a sewage treatment plant before you see it.

While this has not been a banner year for every member, most everyone I’ve talked to says this has been a pretty good year, relatively speaking. For some, sales have been red hot. Hopefully you have maintained lean operations and been able to put a lot of that sales increase on the bottom line.

As we end this year, particularly with business better than it has been in a long time, it seems appropriate to count our blessings. I’d like to share some of mine:

READ MORE


 2015 Political Roundup for Mississippi and Louisiana


By Steve Browning, CSA Lobbyist
Hayes Dent Public Strategies

As many of you know, 2015 is an election year for Mississippi and Louisiana.  Below is a breakdown of final campaign outcomes.

Mississippi

Statewide General Election Results

Governor: Republican Phil Bryant
Lt. Governor: Republican Tate Reeves

House:  Partisan breakdown through General Election:  73 Republicans and 49 Democrats.  One House Democrat seat is the subject of an election dispute.  The House Speaker has named a committee to hear this dispute and make recommendations to the full House for resolution. The Republicans retain control of the House, the Speaker’s chair and leadership posts.

READ MORE


 Hey, Non-Planners: This One’s For You!


Jim Moody, CAE
President

Flying by the seat of your pants is fun sometimes. We all enjoy a vacation every once in a while where we have no plans other than to relax. The occasional Sunday drive can be pleasant as long as gas prices are low. But for most of us, living everyday life by the seat of our pants is not something we would recommend. Yet that’s exactly how many folks run their business.  

READ MORE


A Common Thread


By Katie Bodiford
Director of Meetings & Membership

It was barely light out as my car took the ramp onto I-20 West last Monday morning. With a strong cup of coffee and a full itinerary lying on the seat beside me, I was excited to embark on my first official road trip visiting members since joining the CSA team in April.

I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know many members at various meetings throughout the year—especially during our Sales & Management Conference held at Callaway a couple months ago. A people person to the core, I take great delight in putting a face to a name which only makes my job as an association executive that much more rewarding. But there’s something about getting to know someone on their turf that gives me a real sense of who it is I go to work for each day.

READ MORE


Notice of CSASIF Trustee Nominations


The CSA Self-Insured Worker’s Compensation Fund is now required to provide notice of trustee nominations to all fund members. Following the notification, fund members have 21 days to make alternate nominations. If 20 percent of fund members nominate the same alternate, then an election will be held. Otherwise, the nominees selected by the current fund trustees will be deemed elected.

The current fund trustees have nominated Billy Badger and Hubert Lang to serve three-year terms beginning Jan. 1, 2016.

Other trustees whose terms are not open for election this year include Jim Moody, chair; Chuck Bankston; Tahl Barrett; Jerry Bigham; and Stephanie Dyson.

Fund members who wish to make an alternate nominations may submit names to Jim Moody at jimmoody@gocsa.com or by fax at (678) 674-1860 or by mail at 120 Handley Road, Ste. 610, Tyrone, GA 30290 by Dec. 3, 2015.

 


 DON'T LET YOUR BUSINESS GO UP IN SMOKE!


 

According to the National Fire Protection Association, U.S. municipal fire departments responded to an estimated 1,240,000 fires in 2013, which resulted in more than $11.5 billion in financial loss, injured more than 16,000 people, and killed more than 3,000.

We at Federated Insurance have seen the results of this kind of devastation first-hand. And, what we find most alarming is that the vast majority of fires are avoidable.An in-depth study of Federated clients’ fire-related losses shows the leading causes to be:

  • Spontaneous combustion of improperly stored, oil-soaked rags and other combustible materials
  • Over-loaded electrical circuits and improper use of electrical cords and surge protection
  • Careless smoking
  • Improper storage of flammable liquids

Each of these fire risks can be avoided by following proper prevention steps.

READ MORE


 BOARD NOMINEES NAMED FOR 2016


 By Jim Moody, CAE
President

The CSA Nominating Committee met earlier this month and made recommendations for open positions on the 2016 Board of Directors.

Those nominated include:

  • Chair-Elect: David Huntington, Huntington Lumber and Supply, Hazlehurst, MS
  • Georgia Member: Will Lummus, Lummus Supply, Atlanta, GA
  • Mississippi Member: Ken Morris, Barnett Phillips Lumber and Home Center, Canton, MS
  • At-Large Member: Turner Townsend, Townsend Building Supply, Enterprise, AL
  • At-Large Member: Denise Minvielle, Minvielle Lumber Co., Abbeville, AL

 READ MORE


WHAT'S YOUR LEGACY?


 By Jim Moody, CAE
President

How often do you think about the legacy you are leaving in your business? If I had to bet, I’d say not very often, if ever. But the fact is that everyone leaves a legacy whether they intend to or not.

I’ve written many times about how easy is it is to be caught up in the everyday operations of your business and never think about things at the 30,000-foot level. It’s easy for that to happen because everyone looks to you to solve the problems of the day, but also because thinking at the 30,000-foot level is harder and less fulfilling.

One of the clouds that lives at 30,000 feet is your legacy. Even more than strategy, margin, branding or any of the other “clouds” at that level, this is one that is ignored. Legacy is all about what people think of you after you are gone, and few of us care to contemplate that. But we should.

 READ MORE


BIG CHANGES AHEAD FOR CSA's 'ALL-MEMBER' MEETINGS


 By Jim Moody, CAE
President

Our Sales & Management Conference at Callaway Gardens a couple of weeks ago was quite a hit. At least that’s what the evaluations tell me. Sometimes I worry that people tell me what they think I want to hear on evaluations. Nevertheless, I’m riding high based on that feedback.

While the meeting was successful in any way you can measure it (attendance, finance, evaluations, “vibe”), I think many of us are wondering if an association our size really needs two “all member” meetings per year.

The Board met the day before the S&MC started and looked at that issue. We considered lots of factors. On one hand, having two meetings makes obvious geographic sense because our territory is vast. It’s a long way from Lake Charles, La., to Savannah, Ga. It’s also true that both meetings have been successful financially and from an attendance perspective.

READ MORE


THE IMPORTANCE OF PROFESSIONAL FRIENDS 


By Jim Moody, CAE
President

A long time ago, I ran the association for people who work in associations. It was during those years that it occurred to me that there is an association for every trade or profession you can imagine. From beekeepers to school lunch ladies, there’s a group for everyone. It's the same for people who manage building material associations.

To be sure, the Building Material Association Executive group is smaller than it used to be. There’s been a lot of consolidation over the past few years. But for those of us who are left, I’d dare say each of us would point to it as the most important group in our professional lives.

We see each other only three times per year, yet in those short interactions we’ve formed bonds that transcend usual friendships. The fact that we deal with the same issues means we’re forged in the same fire. No one walks a more similar mile to mine than these folks.

 READ MORE