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STAFDA meets in Denver

Denver -- STAFDA president Rick Peterson hammered away at the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) and offered free advice to STAFDA distributors during the organization’s 32nd Annual Convention & Trade Show and during the most volatile year in recent memory.

In comments that received spontaneous applause during Peterson’s address to members, he called the EFCA “terrible” and “Orwellian” and a “serious threat to small businesses.” Among its provisions is the elimination of the secret ballot in certain union elections.

“If passed, what this terrible legislation would do would eliminate the time honored requirement for secret ballots of union elections and enable union proponents to coerce and intimidate workers who disagree with the union objectives,” he said.

On March 1, 2007, the House of Representatives passed the act by a vote of 241 to 185. It subsequently stalled in the Senate.

Peterson, the president of Seattle-based All-West Fasteners, shared four points of advice to STAFDA houses. Adopt improved supply chain partnerships, such as Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI). The goals of VMI are to make sure the customers’ production line never shuts down due to a product shortage and to minimize the total cost of supply. He cautioned distributors not to get burned on special inventory. A tool they should use is non-cancelable, non-returnable agreements (NCNRs).

Athird suggestion was to ensure that company’s terms and conditions protect them from product liability. “Remember, we’re the distributor, not the insurer against all things bad in the universe,” he said.

Finally, Peterson called on STAFDA houses to protect themselves from giving customers detailed industry descriptions that they can use to shop pricing and sourcing with their competitors.

During his general session address Monday morning, Peterson described his company’s increasing diversification since its founding in 1978. It started out as “two guys in a nearly empty warehouse” and reinvented itself as a supplier of aircraft fasteners and military specification hardware, supporting Boeing and the U.S. Navy. More recently, All-West added electronic hardware to its offerings.

Other STAFDA members are currently shifting sales to commercial, industrial and other market sectors, and that’s what the trade show is for -- new products to help in this transition.

Incoming STAFDA president Hal Look, of Livermore, Calif.-base ORCO Construction Supply, summed up 2008 with two concepts: the presidential election and turbulent economic times.

“This year has not been normal to say the least,” said Georgia Foley, STAFDA executive director. Still the 32nd event will stand as the fourth largest meeting in the organization’s history at about 4,500 attendees. Some 880 booths were on the show floor, down from 969 booths last year, a record high. Of those 880 exhibitors in Denver, 19 percent were not present last year.

STAFDA membership has dipped slightly in 2008 to 2,845, including 1,215 distributors.

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