Association Spotlight

Associated General Contractors of America

By Association Adviser staff • November 5, 2012

Newest AGC Benefit: Small Part of a Broader Plan

Sometimes, the best membership advances are of the cyber variety. And a little gift now and then doesn't hurt either.

By Lyle Fitzsimmons

Routine visitors to the AGC of America’s already jam-packed website were treated to a new improved experience in early October, when the association unveiled the AGC Store, a revamped online source for the latest construction resources and educational materials. Early viewers were additionally treated to prizes and discounts, including portable DVD players.

The store, whose direct link, allows members to browse through AGC's myriad publications, videos and webinars, which run the gamut from a 23-page guide detailing OSHA's inspection process to an online course teaching project managers how to conduct effective meetings.

“All told, our new e-commerce platform took approximately 10 to 12 months to launch. That included the development of the business case and vendor selection and the technology build and launch,” said Jeff Wilson, AGC's senior marketing director.

“It was a very involved process led by AGC's IT department and supported by key project members with specific departmental responsibilities that were impacted by our ecommerce platform, including accounting, product sales, meetings and marketing. The entire project had the backing and support of our senior leadership which was essential in completing the project.”

Broad product categories include Safety, Construction Delivery, Management & Operations, Contracts & Construction Law, Distance Learning and AGC Branding, with each grouping further broken down into two to seven subcategories.

Overall, the ambitious store overhaul and its related offerings are a small, but tangible part of the workings of AGC, whose stated mission is to further the everchanging agenda of commercial construction contractors, improve job-site safety, expand use of cutting-edge technologies and techniques and strengthen dialogue between contractors and owners.

“Our previous e-commerce platform was based on outdated technology that quite simply created a very poor experience for customers,” Wilson said. “It was difficult to complete a purchase; it did not showcase our products well and did not incorporate any of the selling and marketing functions that customers have come to expect from an online shopping experience today. We decided to build a new ecommerce portal based on statistical performance data from our old platform, declining sales, customer feedback and an evaluation of our old platform versus other online shopping experiences.”

Toward that end, via member surveys and a thorough dialogue with key constituencies, the association has gathered important information on issues and priorities it should address and gleaned feedback on how best to position itself going forward. The result is a strategic plan outlining the goals and objectives to define its direction for the next three years.

Among the specific priorities AGC identified for 2010-12 are evaluating activities and services to determine their real benefit to members, boosting involvement in the Political Action Committee to strengthen the associations voice, and increasing opportunities for members to share lessons and learn from innovators.

The strength of AGC comes from the skill, vigor and enthusiasm of its members. But its success springs from the ability to adapt and improve to meet the needs of a changing industry in an ever-evolving political and economic environment, the plan says.

(It) will guide AGC as it achieves greater focus, evolves into a more effective structure and builds even stronger partnerships with its nationwide network of chapters. As important, it will ensure that all members continue to fully benefit from their involvement in AGC.

Sometimes it takes a lot of work to make it all seem so simple. But in AGC's case, the new site was truly worth the effort.

Lyle Fitzsimmons is an editor in Naylors Gainesville, Fla., headquarters.

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