It has been only 28 days since my appointment to the Presidency of the International Professional Pond Companies Association (IPPCA). It has been a busy month, with the IPPCA also adding Dave Ouwinga, Easy Pro Pond Products, as Vice President and James Lavery, Atlantic Water Gardens, accepting a position on the Board of Advisors.
The IPPCA has also spent the last 28 days speaking with contractors, dealers, distributors, and manufacturers in order to better familiarize ourselves with the specific needs of our industry. From the economy to product defect rates, pricing structures and unfair competition, I have heard about the many challenges that face each of us as we market our products and services.
Perhaps the two most difficult issues impacting our industry today concern MAP pricing (Minimum Advertised Price) and the overregulation of our industry by Federal, State, and Local governments.
MAP pricing is certainly not a new issue, with some manufacturers having policies dating back several years. These manufacturers had the foresight to identify the Internet as both a better way to advertise and a device in which products could become quickly devalued. These early companies did their best to delay the commoditization of their products and to protect the profits of their distributors and dealers.
Unfortunately, the economy, the increased number of manufacturers in the market and the failure of the traditional distribution system has led to countless pricing issues. Some manufacturers do not yet have MAP pricing for their products. Others have a program in place but are unable to render effective enforcement. I firmly believe some manufacturers have the wrong program in place but are unsure as how to improve it. The result is a mish mash of rules and restrictions that some sellers adhere to while others simply disregard.
The increased regulation of our industry is just as great of an issue. Our industry is under ever increasing scrutiny by Federal, State and Local governments. From wanting to ban pond and water feature construction on new homes, to outlawing Koi, to requiring a union plumber to install a water garden, we face ongoing scrutiny from all levels of government. Our industry professionals in over 10 states and countless cities, have faced severe (business killing) threats in the form of poorly thought restrictions or bans on issues the governments have little or no expertise in.
With all these issues before us it is easy to become discouraged. One can easily see that becoming a pond installer or dealer is certainly not as easy as it was just 5 years ago. Fortunately there are projects in place that are addressing these issues and seeking solutions that will benefit the entire industry.
**GOOD NEWS! HELP IS ON THE WAY!**
The IPPCA seeks to harness the power and creativity of our industry and use that to create long-term solutions for these and other issues. We look forward to working with both our members as well as our corporate partners as we seek improvements that will benefit everyone.
Our goal with MAP pricing is to learn, from Water Garden manufacturers, what is and is not working for them. With that information we can put together a model using all of the best practices which all manufacturers will have the opportunity to duplicate. Our manufacturers wish to see all of us successful in the sales of their products. Their business cannot grow unless ours does. When MAP pricing is standardized in our industry everyone will win.
The IPPCA goal concerning increased regulation has been to create an industry wide Legislative Action Team (LAT). This team will be expanded and composed of members from multiple manufacturers and industry professionals and will formulate an action plan to educate and combat the rising tide of absurd regulations as they crop up. The solutions the LAT come up with must address the issues at all levels of government and it must harness the power of all our industry members in order to overcome the obstacles facing us. Look at what the power of people in Egypt just accomplished! Let’s bring the power of the people to the Pond Industry and prevent the government from regulating us right out of business.
**WE NEED YOUR HELP!**
As most of you know, the IPPCA is a non-profit organization dedicated to the improvement of the entire Pond Industry. Our officers and advisors are all volunteers and do an incredible job juggling both their IPPCA work with the needs of their own businesses. In order to continue our fight to bring positive change to the Pond Industry we need your spare time and we need your financial support.
**Give us an hour and we will give you a lifetime!**
Got an hour a week to spare? You can either use that free hour to watch reruns of Gilligan’s Island or you can use it to save the industry that employs you! Not sure what you can do? Just give me or IPPCA a call and we can get you started. The time you invest on the behalf of your industry brings us that much closer to protecting it for this and future generations. Many people have told us what they think is wrong with the industry, but I am asking each and every one of you to make a personal commitment to actually doing something about it.
**Give us a couple of bucks and we can give you a future in the industry!**
Over the years, many organizations may have asked for your membership or a donation. Many well meaning groups have been formed to tackle the issues of our industry. Many of you may have given money only to find that little, if anything changed. I cannot promise you that the IPPCA will solve every problem facing our industry. I cannot promise that the IPPCA will save every business that is hurting today. What I can tell you is that the IPPCA has been in existences for over seven years and in that time every accomplishment achieved has been off the sweat and determination of those who volunteer and run it. Always underfunded, and yet never once a thought of throwing in the towel, the IPPCA has stood the test of time.
Now our industry itself could be running out of time. We must reach deeper and strive harder so that we can push forward on the seemingly overwhelming problems that so many in our industry face. An investment in an IPPCA membership is an investment in your business, it is an investment in our industry and it is an investment that is needed for us to continue to fight on your behalf.
Many of our members have enjoyed the free introductory membership offered this last year. It is time for you to step up and lend your financial support. In this economic climate many manufacturers have opted to maintain only minimum sponsorship levels. It is time for them to step up and lend their support to the industry and invest in the IPPCA.
Each and every one of you can and SHOULD make a difference. Your membership allows us to continue the work that now firmly sits on far too few shoulders. We need your time, money and ideas. Working with the IPPCA is the single best way that everyone in this industry can ensure the future success of the industry, their businesses, and the well being and financial stability of their families.
Call 770-592-9790 to lend your support. Visit www.IPPCA.com to begin or renew your membership today. Or contact me directly at John@IPPCA.com.
John Olson, President