Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Year in Review 2014

For the ASCA and its membership, this was another year defined by milestones and accomplishments. The association was founded on four pillars, and as the industry continues to embrace the ASCA’s mission, we continue to fulfill our membership’s mandate to bring positive change to the professional snow and ice management industry.

Industry Standards

The basis of everything ASCA, the Industry Standards reached the pinnacle of validation in January when we were accredited by the American National Standards Institute. These standards, now known as “System Requirements For Snow and Ice Management Services; ANSI document #: ANSI/ASCA A100-2014.” The ASCA Industry Standards committee worked tirelessly to produce these standards, and then worked diligently to get them accredited by ANSI.

Standards provide the basic best practices a snow and ice management company must abide by to be recognized as professional. Following standards not only shows property managers you are an industry professional, but they serve as a legitimate defense in a slip-and-fall lawsuit. These standards encourage thorough documentation, which is a key tool in defending yourself against such claims.

In the end, the ANSI accreditation is the most credible designation a standard can have. ASCA members received the ANSI Standard as soon as it was approved

Education

ASCA-C education continues to have a positive impact on the industry. To date, nearly 300 individuals are earning certification. ASCA-C education ensures you are well versed on industry standards, risk management, and best practices. In all, with nearly 5,000 courses taken, ASCA-C is having a positive impact on the industry and is earning recognition from outside the professional snow and ice management industry.

Verification

The ISO 9001/SN 9001 quality management system is beginning to take hold in the industry. Initially intimidating, many contractors, once engaged in the process, found they were over complicating the matter and dove in to earn certification.

ISO 9001 validates the processes and procedures you have in place to ensure service quality, while SN 9001 ensures you have implemented the industry standards into your company.

To date, nine companies have achieved the ISO 9901/SN9001 designation. This is the first year in which companies really began to pursue the auditing program. With dozens of other companies beginning the process, we expect 2015 to be an exceptional year for this program.

Positive Legislative Changes

For a number of years, the ASCA has been active at the Federal level. While in previous years we had been active at some state-level initiatives, in 2014 we really dove in to laying the ground work for substantial state legislative initiatives. Beginning in Trenton N.J., we kicked off the spring with what one New Jersey insider described as the most impressive legislative day ever. We then headed to Springfield, Ill., to do the same. There we laid the groundwork for legislative change. We also have been working behind the scenes to do the same in other states. We expect 2015 to be a big year for implementing these initiatives in a number of key snow states.

At the Federal level, we continue to focus on lawsuit abuse and spent time in Washington DC to drive home this message. Meeting mostly with Senators and there key staffers, ASCA members spoke passionately about how legislative change would impact their businesses. We are always pleased with the positive reception we receive in DC.

In the end, the four pillars of the ASCA were established to change how the outside world looked at our industry and your businesses. In the short time we have been active, we are already seeing the impact.

The last year marked the first-ever insurance carrier recognizing the ASCA’s educational certification, and offering more competitive rates to those that are ASCA-C. Impressed with the verification system, they began offering deeper discounts to those that were ISO 9001/SN 9001 certified.

Finally, 2014 marked the first time a property management company began asking about ASCA certifications (both ASCA-C and ISO/SN 9001) in an RFP. This is a huge milestone because this will be the norm in a few years.

When I look back, I could not be prouder of the ASCA membership and our staff. It is your commitment to the four pillars and to the ASCA initiatives that makes this possible.

Have a happy New Year!

Kevin Gilbride is the Executive Director of the Accredited Snow Contractors Association and the Publisher of Snow Magazine.

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