Associations thrive on involvement. Membership means nothing without member engagement. During a presentation Tuesday at the Commercial Vehicle Solutions Network (CVSN) Summit in Boston, Dan Schuberth of the National Association of Wholesale Distributors (NAW) stressed that message to the distributors in the audience.
“Companies innovate. Associations accelerate,” Schuberth says. Trade associations enable industry to “do things together that no one of us can do on our own.”
Trade associations are hardly a new entity in North America. In fact, Schuberth says the first trade group in the United States was founded in New York City in 1768, nearly a decade prior to the writing of the Declaration of Independence. Today, there are more than 100,000 trade associations in the U.S. Schuberth says each association may cater to a different market segment but many have the same goals — to give a voice to their members and speak up on behalf of their industries.
“When you can organize companies to work together with public officials, you get to have a little more of a say,” he says. “Associations give companies a larger seat at the table.”
In the truck parts sector, Schuberth says CVSN is a vital trade association because of its ability to connect independent operations across multiple nations and buying groups. Schuberth says CVSN’s focus on training, support for right to repair and commitment to the development and distribution of business best practices ensures the independent aftermarket remains competitive against the OE dealer channel and has a stake in regulation debates, taxation and more. And NAW membership also is a perk of CVSN membership, meaning aftermarket distributors also have access to Schuberth and his team to speak on their behalf in Washington, D.C.
Schuberth says NAW has proven to its essentiality to the economy over the last three years, supporting massive vaccine clinics to curb the pandemic and later fighting against higher taxes and vaccine mandates that would have harmed businesses coming out of the pandemic.
In closing his remarks Tuesday, Schuberth urged all in attendance to speak up and become active participants of CVSN and any other trade associations with which they made be associated. Schuberth says the strength of an association is defined by the commitment of its members. The more businesses throw their weight behind a group, the stronger front that group can bring when communicating with government, or simply speaking out on behalf of the industry.
“If you’re not learning you’re following behind,” Schuberth says.