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Orlando, Fla. -- The ProDealer Industry Summit (PDIS) kicked off Tuesday here with words of encouragement from incoming National Lumber & Building Material Dealers Association chairman Joe Collings of Indiana's Ferguson Lumber, and political insight from former U.S. Senator Trent Lott.
During the NLBMDA's new officer installation dinner, Collings alluded to the tough times facing the industry, but reminded attendees of the resilience of the members. "We have been here a long time," he said. "Some of us over a century, and we have proven that we are a hardy, focused talented industry, and we will be successful. If you did not believe that you wouldn't be here."
He said one effort of the NLBMDA in the coming year would be to work closely and form partnerships with the regional associations.
Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi, during his keynote speech talked about the good old days of bi-partisanship, which he described as sadly lacking in today's Congress. "Younger leaders in Congress will be taking over soon," he said, which he saw as a promising sign for cooperation.
Opening day of the PDIS coincided with NLBMDA board meetings. One new initiative was to identify all 6,000 association dealer members by congressional district, to help efficiently muster support for appropriate candidates and legislation when needed. "Now we can pinpoint our dealer members by their Congress member," said NLBMDA CEO Michael O'Brien.
Outgoing NLBMDA chairman Dan Fesler gave a brief state of the industry report, which included some positive interpretations. "Last year housing was on the red side; this year almost all of the metrics are on the upside," he said. "The financial markets are recovering, the housing markets are recovering. This is great news for us."
Fesler, the CEO of St. Paul, Minn.-based Lampert Yards, said the final rules of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on Cranes and Derricks in Construction were a big win for pro dealers. By exempting knuckle-boom truck cranes from cumbersome rules, "it saved every dealer in the United States thousands of dollars."
Jointly sponsored by the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) and Home Channel News, the ProDealer Industry Summit runs through Oct. 15. All events will be held at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress.