Service Centers

ASD Now Part of FMA

Written by Tim Triplett

The Association of Steel Distributors is now a technical affiliate of the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International, Elgin, Ill. ASD functioned as an independent, nonprofit service center trade group for 75 years, but changing market conditions and flagging membership forced the association to ally with a larger organization to ensure its continued survival.

“This is a very big, transitional day for ASD,” said Andy Gross, owner of Alliance Steel, Bedford Park, Ill., and current ASD president, announcing the deal with FMA during ASD’s regional dinner Thursday in Chicago.

Like many trade groups, ASD has struggled to maintain its membership in recent years as service centers have merged and consolidated or opted out to save money. Upon ASD’s dissolution and affiliation with FMA, its member companies, now numbering fewer than 40, will join FMA’s 2,300 members.

Gross said some long-time ASD members, whose families have been part of the peer group for generations, were reluctant to make the change. But, after some persuasion, they acknowledged it was the only way to guarantee ASD’s continued existence. In the end, the vote was unanimous. “I had to make the board understand that the further we went down the river, the further we were up the creek,” Gross said. “It was important for me not to allow this group to go away.”

ASD will remain “a group within the group,” similar to the toll processors and pipe and tube suppliers who are also technical affiliates of FMA. It will host its own speakers, conferences and meetings, and will try to perpetuate its traditions, such as its Steel Man of the Year Award. “The goal is to keep our identity,” Gross said.

FMA brings a host of new value to an ASD membership, including wide-ranging educational programs, access to its fabricator and manufacturer members, and participation in the FABTECH trade show, among other benefits. And all at a lower cost. A service center can join ASD, through FMA, for a cost of $495 a year, or $1,295 for a full corporate membership. That compares to ASD’s former membership fee of around $2,000.

Gross is confident FMA will help ASD grow and succeed in its mission to share best practices. “I am excited about being part of such a large organization.”

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