Membership Spotlight: Top 5 New Equipment Services
By Adrienne Dayton
NSSEA Essentials, Fall 2010
With the School Equipment Show just around the corner, all eyes are on the tradeshow. But here's a reminder for you: NSSEA is much more than a tradeshow. While NSSEA's most visible member benefit may be our annual gatherings of buyers and sellers, members have come to rely on NSSEA to help maximize connections by providing networking opportunities to build relationships and marketing information to make solid business decisions.
Here's a roundup of what NSSEA has developed in recent months to serve the needs of the equipment segment.
1. Development of an Industry Safety Standard and Certification: NSSEA/NSF 380
NSSEA has partnered with NSF International to develop a standard for K-12 school equipment and supplies. The standard will be the first comprehensive standard to certify health, safety and environmental aspects of products and equipment used in an educational setting. The standard will help meet the needs of product manufacturers, educational organizations and consumer interest groups looking for standardization and third-party objectivity. Developing a national standard and certification program will enable school districts to easily and efficiently identify products and equipment that are appropriate for use in the K-12 educational setting.The standard will incorporate mandatory legislative standards along with other testing schemes.
To be designated NSF/NSSEA 380, the standard will assess products for materials of construction, flammability, electrical safety, emissions, and physical performance. Products to be addressed in the standard include desks, tables, and seating products, visual communication products and audio-visual equipment, flooring products, and laboratory equipment. Upon completion of the standard, NSF will also offer a third-party certification program to organizations interested in documenting independent verification of the compliance of their products to the standard.
The K-12 school equipment standard is being developed using a consensus-based approach involving representation from all stakeholders affected by the scope of the standard via NSF's standards development process. NSF International is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to develop American national standards. This process ensures balanced input and representation from K-12 school and educational advocacy organizations, school procurement professionals, public health and regulatory officials, industry representatives and consumers. A standards committee meeting will take place on Tuesday, November 16 from 10 AM–2 PM during the School Equipment Show.
In addition, NSF International will launch a certification program, which will be based on the K-12 school equipment standard. The certification program will verify that all NSF Certified products meet the standard's requirements. All NSF Certified products will be listed on NSF's website and can bear the NSF Certification mark. A certification committee meeting will take place on Thursday, November 18 from 8-10 AM in Phoenix. If you are interested in participating in the standard's development process or attending either of these meetings, contact Bill Duffy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-495-0240, ext. 1026.
To learn more about this new standard and how it may affect your company, we encourage you to attend a workshop on Thursday, November 18 at 9:00–10:15 AM during at the School Equipment Show entitled "NSSEA/NSF 380: What You Need To Know about the New School Equipment Safety Standard, Certification Program, and BIFMA Educational Furniture Standard." Presented by representatives of NSF International and BIFMA, this session will provide an overview of the standards development process, details about the requirements of the standard and the primary elements of the certification program. In addition, BIFMA International, an ANSI-accredited standards developer, will be on hand to share the latest developments of their proposed Educational Furniture Standard.
2. Trends Forecasting at Special School Equipment Show Session
We all know that the furniture and equipment marketplace has been flat these last couple years with school construction starts lower in most areas of the country facing tight budgets, but what will the future hold? Will school district budgets improve enough to see real growth? Alan Beaulieu, from the Institute for Trend Research, will deliver an informative and timely presentation on Thursday, November 18, 10:30–11:45 AM that will shed light on the future through business cycle trend analysis for both the U.S. and international markets, and prepare you for what lies ahead. The Institute for Trend Research has more than 60 years of predictions throughout every major historic economic turning point. Alan will not only provide an extensive review of business cycles, but can explain the implications to the school furniture equipment suppliers and dealers. Come hear what the future holds for your company.
3. NSSEA-Managed Focus Groups to Provide Affordable Feedback on Products
Candid, confidential feedback can be crucial to bringing new or improved products successfully to market, and NSSEA wants to assist companies in their search to for a better understanding of brand loyalty, generating new ideas for improving distribution, or assessing the probable success of new product introductions. For the first time, School Equipment Show exhibitors will be given the opportunity for direct, candid feedback from the people who influence and make purchase decisions for their product lines. By providing a platform where key purchasing influences can come together and voice their concerns and opinions in a structured environment led by a independent, professional moderator, the School Equipment Show Product Purchaser Focus Groups will help open doors at the buying level in organizations and assist with building solid, meaningful relationships between buyers and sellers. The pilot program will be taking place in Phoenix.
4. Adoption of a Product Information Template as Industry Standard
In an effort to improve the efficiency of the channel and drive down transaction costs, the NSSEA Business Technology Committee has developed and released an industry product information template for use by suppliers and dealers in the school market. The template, endorsed by the NSSEA Board of Directors and leadership, is available in an Excel format. It includes standard data fields for vendor information, product dimensions, UPC and or ISBN codes, minimum orders, delivery methods, MSDS requirements, safety criteria, recycled material specifications, among others, and can be adapted for any products currently being sold.
The NSSEA leadership is supporting a standard format to promote efficiencies in order entry, decrease the redundancies in order entry, reduce transactional costs, and ease difficulties associated with the transfer of product data for catalogs and websites.
"Our goal is to move the industry toward a total adoption of electronic commerce in order to automate business processes and reduce the amount of rekeying of data," explains Michael Green, one of the key members working to support the adoption of the template in the school market. "Only with the support of both dealers and suppliers, will we be able to effectively compete with other channels."
You can download the template at: http://www.nssea.org/Resources/standards.cfm
5. Education Offered to Help Streamline Operations and Reduce Transactional Costs
Another key component of NSSEA's service package is to deliver the resources to help people think differently and improve operational efficiency. NSSEA is holding a workshopto help equipment companies increase the effectiveness of the marketplace by sharing best practices at a session to be held on Thursday, November 18 at 9 AM entitled "Improving Operational Efficiency Through Technology." The NSSEA Business Technology Committee have invited Transactiv CEO Karl Perron to lead a discussion on how free standards such as the NSSEA Product Template can increase efficiencies and build connections between companies. He will share examples of how to facilitate online transactions between buyers and sellers through social networking platforms. Members of the NSSEA Business Technology Committee will be on hand to share ways they have reduced costs, streamlined operations, and increased revenue though IT investments.
NSSEA wants to continue to develop innovative programs that will meet your needs. Please share with us your ideas and business challenges so we can serve you better. For details on any member service, contact Member Services at email@example.com or (800) 395-5550, option 2.