By Diane M. Calabrese / Published April 2020
Alist that spans A to Z? Not quite, but the benefits of CETA membership are long, growing, and getting darn close.
From the annual meeting (A), benchmarking (B), and collegial connections (C) to regional meetings (R), scholarships (S), and visibility (V) through certification, the benefits tied to CETA membership are many and varied—so much so that singling out one as the best reason for belonging is impossible.
Each member views the benefits from a unique perspective. Indeed, CETA is all about the uniqueness of what members bring to the whole in a way that makes the entire industry stronger.
Yet benchmarking ranks among the top benefits for many. “The benchmarking program was instrumental to our company to compare sales, service, inventory, and expenses with other similar businesses,” says Eric Weimer, president of Bozeman Distributors in Baton Rouge, LA.
The access to incisive information is just one component of all that’s good about the CETA benchmarking program. “The best part was it was totally free as a member of CETA,” says Weimer.
Al Bonifas, the owner of All-Spray in Swanton, OH, also puts benchmarking atop his list of membership benefits, and he tells us why.
“The biggest benefit of CETA membership is the benchmarking, which gives me an evaluation of the performance metrics of my business compared to other distributors like me and of similar size,” says Bonifas. “I don’t think there are any better numbers and ratios that can be found anywhere to help us evaluate our pressure washer distributorships.”
Indeed, benchmarking is good; and in the spirit of the industry commitment to continuous improvement, it will be even better in 2020. We’ll be discussing changes in a later column. For now, know that a new look (for readability), an interactive graphic (for profit analysis), and high-level security (encrypted end-to-end) are among the enhancements.
Bonifas also tells us about some of the other benefits he values. In fact, he says he appreciates the annual convention for some of the same reasons he appreciates benchmarking.
The convention allows interaction with “other dealers in a more personal way,” says Bonifas. Also, it affords “the benefit of talking to suppliers and manufacturers all in one location.”
Currently a member of CETA’s board, Bonifas has also served on the board of the CETA Education Foundation, an independently incorporated charitable organization (established in 1996). The Foundation raises funds for scholarships, which are awarded on a competitive basis. Families of CETA members and CETA members’ employees and families are eligible to apply.
“The scholarship program is a great employee benefit that would really help any employee’s student pay for school,” says Bonifas. Merit-based awards that help college students defray costs of their formal education are important.
Of course, life-long learning is just as important. In the second half of 2019, CETA University began anew to augment—not supplant—the many kinds of training that fortify teams at member companies.
Yes, there’s distributor training, and there’s OSHA training. CETA University, however, allows members to tap into the deep, collective knowledge of its members—in real-time settings and online (through courses and a library of information).
Greg Sprunk, president of Superior Cleaning Equipment Inc. in Phoenix, AZ, heads the committee for CETA University. (He also heads CETA’s membership committee.)
With a curriculum that includes topics such as burner diagnostics, pump troubleshooting, and safety and sales training, CETA University will develop and grow into a repository of vital information. By consolidating information and organizing training modules and primers from manufacturers and distributors, it provides an easily accessible location for members who want to find assistance for training employees in the best possible way.
Regional meetings add to the opportunities for CETA members to exchange ideas and discuss important updates. Attendees meet for a day or a bit longer. Technical issue updates as well as other topics make up a robust program.
The next regional meeting is set for June 12, 2020, in San Antonio, TX. The Hyatt Regency Riverwalk is the venue. There is no cost to participate in the meeting, so watch for details coming very soon from the CETA office.
This year’s annual meeting is a big one—PowerClean’s 30th Anniversary. It will be held October 22–25, 2020, in Reno, NV. Past presidents and award recipients (Lifetime Achievement and Distinguished Service) will be in attendance for the celebration of three decades. In addition, CETA would very much like past members to attend the meeting, and Debbie Murray, executive director of the organization, asks them to contact the office at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
PowerClean, the annual convention and tradeshow, gives members the opportunity to fulfill a great many goals that fall into the A category. Acquaintances can be renewed and affiliations strengthened.
The annual meeting is also very much about business-to-business connections. And the B category is really emphasized here because the connections give attendees the opportunity to build on relationships and find new ones among fellow distributors, manufacturers, suppliers, and more.
Then there are the friends (F category), who are made not just at the annual meeting but through all CETA activities and service. It takes time to serve on the board of directors or on a committee, but the time spent is a good way to fortify individual ties and the industry.
Growth (G category) is both an intangible and tangible benefit of membership. Meeting potential business partners—and even a competitor may turn into one—whether at an annual or regional meeting or in committee or board service, can lead to growth for a company.
Learning (L category) is part of all engagement. CETA University adds a new dimension to the possibilities. The CETA Technical Committee, which is currently led by Jimmy Welch of American Pressure Inc. in Robbinsdale, MN, offers updates on important issues via the CETA.org website.
Recognition (R category) and visibility (V category) boost the energy level and broaden the reach of a company. The CETA Certified Distributor program demonstrates to all that the member company has gone the distance to show that it is a strong and forward-looking business.
We skipped over the N category for networking. This is a benefit that accrues to members through every aspect of membership.
Sharing (S category) is part of membership in many contexts. The roundtables and seminars at annual meetings afford the opportunity to focus on—and share—ideas about how to market or how to best comply with regulations, as well as which software for accounting and inventory or hiring works best.
That circles us back to questions (Q category). A CETA member who has a question can get the help and advice needed to answer it.
Time (T category) savings, wherever it can be had, matters to the owner of a business. Membership provides some of that, too. Imagine trying to go it alone while keeping pace with emerging regulations, such as California’s Proposition 65 or the newest requirements from DOT, OSHA, and EPA.
Members get streamlined (timely) guidance for new and pending requirements. They also belong to an organization that is ready to respond to requests for comment on significant and industry-affecting changes to rules.
Let’s do Z and link it to zest. Enthusiasm is what ultimately buoys strong manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers even when there are strong countercurrents. CETA truly reflects the enduring passion of its members for their industry.