MEMBERSHIP IN A TRADE association can be one of your most powerful business assets. It helps you achieve goals and stay informed. The more you invest in your membership, the more you'll gain. Trade associations provide a forum for people to discuss industry concerns, plans and progress. People also can bring and share ideas for the common good of the industry because associations work hand-in-hand with their members on issues that affect the success of business and industry.
Why join an association?
What is the value of trade associations? Is it education? Is it networking with customers and vendors? Is it surveys and statistics on industry trends? Is it promotion of the waste industry to the public? It is all of these things and more.
Associations play a critical role in supporting state and national legislative efforts. Initiatives include preparing and presenting testimony to state and local legislative bodies concerning industry issues and organizing local events where members meet with elected officials. Don't underestimate the influence of associations on local, state and national political affairs.
Another trade association benefit is reduced litigation costs and access to legal expertise. For example, members of the Washington, D.C.-based National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSMWA) frequently challenge state and local laws under the association's leadership, rather than seeking representation on a company-by-company basis. Organized legal representation eliminates expensive lawyer fees incurred when individual companies challenge laws separately. State and local laws and regulations are being passed and enforced as never before. NSWMA members have access to the association's legal department for questions and advice. The department also can help you save money by sharing legal briefs, court decisions and other information with you and your lawyer.
Associations conduct state chapter meetings and national conferences, which provide education conveniently and keep you current with the latest industry trends and developments to help your business be more competitive. Members of the Environmental Industry Associations (EIA), Washington, D.C., and its sub-associations — NSWMA and the Waste Equipment Technology Association (WASTEC) — can tap into a full range of important and timely information from industry reports, publications and research.
The ability to meet with customers and potential customers is critical to the success of your business. That is why associations conduct local, regional and national events throughout the year, providing opportunities to network with others in your industry.
For example, each year the EIA organizes WASTEC's Executive Roundtable Conference. This event brings top executives from many sides of the waste industry (solid and medical waste management professionals and waste equipment manufacturers and distributors) together to learn and network in a casual, nonselling environment. And there are lots of other opportunities, such as annual golf outings, chapter dinners and social events. Getting involved in your association's events is good business.
While there is an association for nearly every trade, the EIA and its two trade groups, NSWMA and WASTEC, come highly recommended. They have been representing the interests of the private solid waste industry since 1968.
These groups have led the private waste industry in shaping professional solutions and in keeping members informed of federal bills and regulations that pertain to you locally, such as Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Washington, D.C., guidelines, ergonomics issues and Department of Transportation (DOT), Washington, D.C., truck weight restrictions.
Sandra Price is EIA's director of members services.