The era of buying groups as “line collectors” is over. The leaders for the three main organizations within the custom integration channel have become training and education partners for their dealer and vendor partners, cheerleaders for new business development, and thought leaders at the level of mini trade associations.

HTSA, the smallest of the big three, has only around 80 dealer members to serve, but its agenda could be considered the most progressive and forward-thinking. Its executive director Jon Robbins is not focused on adding new member companies, per se (although a couple will soon will be announced) or fixating on “buying power” and vendor discounts, but instead on educating his membership with in-field and back-office best practices, emerging technology thought leadership, and business growth opportunities.

The agenda of the group has changed so much since Robbins took the helm two and half years ago that he believes it should no longer should be called a buying group anymore. Robbins announced during his state of the business keynote at the HTSA Spring Conference at The Ritz-Carlton in Orlando this week that HTSA is now a “trade consortium.”

For Rosewater Energy Group’s Joe Piccirrilli, joining HTSA allowed his relatively new company to brand build and reach critical mass for its niche power management product. “What HTSA does for us, is provide the ability to influence 80 of the most influential dealers in the country, in a very intimate setting twice a year,” he said. “That allows us to get our brand some form of critical mass that makes advertising worth it. It is that step that so many companies ignore, because it is so difficult to find that vehicle. From a purely economical standpoint, this in invaluable. It’s very important for us to be represented here and for us to do everything that we can to make the HTSA members successful because, for the long term, that’s what will make us successful.”

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