By Kenyon Gleason, NASGW President
When Jade Moldé, Shooting Industry’s editor, contacted me recently about providing a brief update on the National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers (NASGW), what we’re up to and the benefits of being involved in the group, I said “yes” without hesitation. Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to toot their own horn a bit, right?
But as the deadline for this column came nearer, I admittedly started to get a bit nervous. Not because I didn’t or don’t have anything to share, but because there’s so much going on within the association right now I was worried the story would go beyond his word count.
The year 2016 was probably one of the association’s most transformative years. And based on ongoing discussions by NASGW’s Board of Directors, it’s likely 2017 will bring more of the same. We’re thoroughly and completely committed to our mission: “Bringing shooting sports buyers and sellers together.” And we’re committed to finding new and innovative ways of doing just that; it’s a mission we take very seriously.
As you read this, I’m just entering my third year as the association’s president. We’ve come a long way in the past 24 months, and you’ll see some of our new member services and programs below. But while we’ve rolled out lots of new things, we remain and have recommitted to our long-term core principles as well, things such as:
Promoting the common interest of the sporting goods industry.
Encouraging the highest standards of merchandising practices.
Maintaining an active liaison with other industry trade associations.
Conducting the annual NASGW Expo & Annual Meeting.
In fact, the last item is, has been and likely will be for a long time, our primary reason for existence. Over a half-century ago, leaders from the manufacturing and distribution sectors of the industry got together to create the Expo because they understood the benefits and strengths of pooling interests, networking and providing a forum for everyone to come together under one roof. And by any measure, the Expo is one of the industry’s favorite gathering places.
In today’s advanced technology world, I’d argue the Expo is more important than ever. Unlike technology, which takes the personality out of some relationships, the Expo allows people to come together, face-to-face and in a little more relaxed environment, for interactions and conversations that simply can’t be facilitated elsewhere.
There’s no show like the Expo. And there’s no better place to do business than the annual NASGW Expo. Our members know this, and it’s why they keep coming back. It’s also why the 2016 Expo was yet another record-setting event for NASGW. The Expo will continue, and we strive to make it better each and every year.
Because the Expo is such a critical part of NASGW, many perceive it as the “only” thing NASGW does. But the NASGW is about more than our annual gathering. We have a bigger, more important story to tell. We maybe haven’t always been so good about doing the telling, but it’s changing — just like the organization is — as we prepare for the future and the changing dynamics of the shooting sports industry.
In 2016, NASGW launched a rebranding effort that resulted in a new logo and
“Wholesale Trust” slogan. The association also designed an Expo-specific website
and developed the NASGW/Orchid Advisors State Firearms Portal.
Fresh Effort To Tell NASGW’s Story
We began the “telling” process this year with a total revamp of our logo and a complete rebranding of the organization. We’ve updated and enhanced our regular member InSight newsletter and increased its frequency. We created a new Expo-specific website (www.nasgwexpo.org) and recently launched a brand new NASGW member website (www.nasgw.org), which gives us a stronger vehicle for communication to keep members of the association better informed. Our membership consists of wholesale distributors, manufacturers and importers, sales and service specialists, manufacturer sales representatives and the industry media.
Other new adventures for NASGW in 2016 include a new compliance partnership with Orchid Advisors and Epicor. Because of the always-shifting political landscape, compliance is a major issue for companies all along the sales channel. We created a program to benefit wholesalers and other NASGW members by offering them either free or significantly discounted access to training, compliance materials, guidebooks and a host of other benefits.
We followed this by creating the NASGW/Orchid Advisors State Firearms Portal. Originally a members-only benefit, it has recently been made available to any company wanting information from a real-time database — which has consolidated every state’s firearms regulations. Plus, if the rules change, so does the database; so subscribers will always know the current laws in each state. We’ll make regular enhancements and improvements as well to make it as user-friendly and as easy to understand as possible.
Editor’s Note: For more on the NASGW/Orchid Advisors portal, see p. 26 in this issue.
Strengthening “From The Inside”
NASGW is a very unique organization, with a very unique purpose — providing connections to both manufacturing and the retail environment. No other group is better poised to find solutions to make the sales process a better, more seamless experience. It’s our vision to “unite our members by leading the effort to grow the shooting sports’ two-step distribution supply chain from manufacturer to the end user.” This is our purpose and will remain so, though we’re constantly finding new ways to make a mark.
Groups like the NRA and NSSF, have reputations and missions considerably more well known than ours. The NSSF is a prominent public and lobbying group for the shooting sports industry, while the NRA is a champion for millions of firearms owners. Our 40 wholesale members and approximately 600 associate members are the backbone of an incredible supply channel that plays a quieter, but still critically important role in the shooting sports industry. In a nutshell, NASGW is the voice for business — the business of getting products from manufacturers to the store shelves and ultimately into the hands of consumers.
So, while you won’t always see us on the front line, you hopefully have a better understanding of a group of dedicated professionals who work tirelessly behind the scenes to strengthen the shooting sports industry from the inside. To learn more about the National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers and its members, visit us online at www.nasgw.org.