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Association Has its Benefits

If you feel membership in a trade association isn't worth what it costs in dues, here are a few reasons to change your mind.

As I write this, I’m attending the PHCC’s Connect 2019 meeting in Indianapolis. And I’m not just covering it because it’s an important industry event (although it is, and you can see our coverage starting here). CONTRACTOR Magazine has been a member of the PHCC for decades. I’m actually not sure how long, since the membership is owned by the publication, and not any one individual. I do know for a fact that we’ve been sponsors of the Robert M. Cox Humanitarian Awards that the PHCC bestows each year since 1972.

I know there are some members of the industry out there who feel, for one reason or another, that membership in an association (be it the PHCC, the Mechanical Contractors Association of America or the Radiant Professionals Association) isn’t worth what it costs in dues. Here are a few reasons you might want to reconsider.

Education. Just today I was able to attend two educational sessions, one on connected data, another on manifold flow-metering in radiant heating applications. With the way new technology is developing by leaps and bounds these days, you need to keep up on your education or you’ll soon be left behind, and associations can be a valuable educational resource. And with an association, the educators know just who they’re talking to. Both sessions I attended, while covering very different topics, went out of their way to show how advances in technology can save a contractor time and make them money.

Best Practices. Best practices are usually less for the technical side of the job, and more for optimizing your business. How can I set up a company 401K plan, and what will it cost me to do so? How can I better train my customer service reps, and what can that do for my bottom-line? How do I set up an employee referral program, and make sure that it’s working? Answers to these questions, and dozens of questions you might never think to ask yourself, can all be found through materials, seminars and workshops offered by associations.

Networking. One of the best resources for any contractor is another contractor. Somewhere out there is a business-owner who has faced the problems you are facing, and they can tell you what worked and what didn’t. Somewhere out there is a contractor in a similar market, facing a similar customer base, who has found ways to make money that you haven’t picked up on yet. Somewhere out there is a guy who knows a guy. After all, what’s an association for if not to let its members associate?

Stories. The thing about networking is, it’s almost never all business. Did you know that you’ve got to watch those guys pouring concrete like a hawk? Did you hear about the new regulations coming out of Oregon? Did you hear the one about Dan Holohan and the 100-year-old boiler? The one about Hot Rod Rohr? About Dave Yates? (And for those of you out there missing Dave like I am, you can catch up with him in his semi-retirement in our latest Forum.)

Getting the Big Picture. Everybody in this line of work, it seems, is incredibly busy. But if you’re only keeping your head down, focusing on the day-to-day, you can sometimes miss the forest for the trees. It’s a fascinating industry with an important role to play in our society. Being a member of an association can really bring that home.


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