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NWPCA to Focus on Customers In Delivering Value to Members
NWPCA Vision: Leadership of the National Wooden Pallet & Container Association approves blueprint for progress in the face of dynamic change in the industry and economy.
By Bruce Scholnick
Date Posted: 2/1/2001
At our core, the goal of the National Wooden Pallet & Container Association is to deliver value to our members. One of the most important values we can deliver today is a direct knowledge transfer from the association to members about their customers’ emerging needs, desires and expectations, because it is their customers who are driving the changes in our industry.
There are new competitors (pallet rental companies), new ways of doing business (third-party online auctions), and alternative materials entering our industry because there are enough end users who want these options to support the market share these providers are winning. This is not to say that our members should switch to alternative materials or start selling through online auctions. However, in order to remain competitive — or better yet, grow — they need to understand why some of their customers are selecting these alternatives. Knowledge breeds better business judgments.
The Board of Directors of the NWPCA unanimously approved a long-term plan recently that serves as a blueprint for advancing the association in the face of the dynamic changes taking place in our industry and the entire global economy. The plan centers on five target opportunity areas.
While a great deal of the plan centers on ways to help our members take advantage of change, within each of our target areas are programs that preserve the enduring priorities of our members. Such things as educating members on maximizing cost efficiencies, improving day-to-day operations, reducing injuries, and the Pallet Design System will continue to be mainstays of the organization.
In this article, though, I want to concentrate on the programs and activities that deal with managing change by understanding end user demands — current demands and those on the horizon.
Research, Analysis, Solutions
One of the primary objectives of the plan is for the NWPCA to identify innovative, useful end user solutions that will help our members better meet customer needs, respond to change and take advantage of emerging trends. Achieving this objective will require accurate data, thorough analysis and reliable forecasting.
In Phase 1 we must build a foundation for developing innovative end user solutions. This year, NWPCA staff will conduct surveys and research on pallet users’ practices, needs and expectations. The vast amount of information captured from this customer profiling will be entered into what we are calling Data Central. After we have amassed, stored and analyzed this information, we will use it in a number of ways that will deliver value to our members.
The NWPCA will:
•conduct a feasibility study on an association-controlled online pallet auction.
•conduct a feasibility study on an association-driven national pallet retrieval/recovery service.
•provide members with useful survey and research results in a user-friendly format.
•make use of end user information it collects to forecast trends.
•identify future trends of Europallets in North America.
In Phase 1 we also will begin to develop end user solutions. While we are constructing Data Central, we will be moving forward on the following projects to advance our goal of originating end user solutions.
The NWPCA will:
•write and distribute Modern Materials Handling/Study 2001
•update the Uniform Standard for Wood Pallets, which will help members to better meet the expectations of their customers.
•develop new business models and other tools for members to adapt to emerging trends.
Building strategic alliances with end user associations and international pallet provider groups is another priority under the new plan. Our goal is to be seen by these groups as a resource in their planning and decision-making processes. To accomplish that goal, we will be implementing the following activities.
The NWPCA will:
•be more active in our participation in end user conferences, roundtables and trade shows.
•offer our officers and leaders as speakers for their forums.
•invite end user leaders to participate in association committee work to provide their input into our planning and decision-making.
•develop alliances with foreign pallet end users (and pallet providers) to lead the effort to determine global pallet standards.
•represent the North American pallet industry on ISO standard-setting committees.
•work to develop international membership to increase our members’ influence with end users globally.
•spearhead international phytosanitary issues by leading a worldwide implementation of a global pallet marking system.
•represent industry interests regarding the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s development and implementation of the "Global Import Rule."
•administer USEPAL/Europallets in Canada and Mexico and develop a North American certification program.
•put together reclamation programs for Europallets in North America.
Promoting Positive Image
In addition to striving to have an impact on end user thinking and decision-making, we want to strengthen their positive image of NWPCA members and our members’ products.
•strengthen the positive image of members through feature stories and news articles in end user publications.
•promote the value of our members’ pallet design and quality.
During the coming years, NWPCA will be focusing on our members’ customers much as a high beam light shines on the road ahead. It will aim its beam at end users, but it also will cast a halo of light that will both shine on our members and provide them with a clear direction in the vastness ahead. That light will also encircle our alliances with end user, industry and business groups worldwide. In this light, we will develop and deliver real business value to our members.