For some people, drinking a glass of warm milk is just the thing to help them sleep through the night. For David King, getting solid shut-eye involves something else. “I get tremendous satisfaction of knowing that I've made a change that made our organization more nimble,” he says. “I’m not a paper pusher by any means—I need to be seen, I need to be felt—and that’s what drives me to want to make things easier for people. And when I accomplish those goals, it helps me sleep better at night.”
King is Director of Information Technology and Operations Manager for the Distilled Spirits Council. “What that means is that I'm just the guy behind the scenes making sure that everybody else on the team has what they need to do their job,” he explains. “And also, my unwritten job is that I am the purveyor of bad dad jokes.”
The Distilled Spirits Council is a trade association that serves the needs of leading producers and marketers of distilled spirits products. That can involve working with grants from the Department of Agriculture to promote American Spirits overseas or helping spirits makers navigate various municipalities’ laws and regulations or advocating for the first reduction in federal excise tax since the Civil War.
Simply put, the Council is doing a lot, and when you’re doing a lot, it can be difficult to stay organized, focused, and therefore, effective. That’s where King come in. “IT is my primary focus and we've made two key changes in the last in the last six months,” he explains. One of which was moving all standard IT services to a virtual desktop. “Being able to have the exact same desktop with the exact same software and files at your fingertips no matter where you are has made us so much more flexible. We don't care about snow days, we don't care about traveling.”
The second change was a massive upgrade to their system to better manage their day-to-day business. “Previously we kept distribution lists in silos and had different versions floating around. With Impexium’s association management platform, we now have one central repository to manage and track changes to critical business and membership data. Plus, since it is a web-based service, it is accessible to all who need it, whenever they need it, which is wonderful.”
Impexium provided a means of better communications for all sides of the association. “For members, we are using it for sharing board materials, minutes, bylaws, meeting presentation slide decks and so on,” King explains.
Change within organizations isn’t always easy to make, and King says Impexium was with him every step of the way. “I’d never tried to make this type of change—go from a widely dispersed set of spreadsheets, each formatted differently, to a unified cloud-based service. I needed all the help I could get! Impexium set me up with one point-of-contact who learned my situation and challenges and was a rock of support in helping me tell him what he needed to hear.” As a result, both employees and users are singing the praises of the new system. “Every time I ask myself, ‘Can we do this?’ I find it has a way to do it.”
Change doesn’t always go quite as smoothly, of course, and not everyone is super eager to do things differently. King’s secret weapon in cases like that? “Patience. I do the one-on-one approach, I guide people who aren't comfortable making changes,” he says. “And if they are very resistant and we get right to the edge and if they still don’t want to go with me, sometimes I give them a little push,” he laughs.
In the end, it is all about the results and finding the most effective, efficient way to get there. And King really gets his juices flowing when he has the opportunity to attack a problem that is standing in the way of progress. “I'm a little bit competitive, I like something to rally around,” he explains. “And we’ve been rallying to get more efficient, make everybody’s jobs easier and to save money.” As they say in the distilled spirits business, we’ll drink to that.
Change may be the only constant in business — but that doesn’t make organizational transformation any easier. Association leaders are balancing competing priorities and increasing demands, enough to make even the most driven executive fall victim to the inertia of the status-quo.
But not every association stays still while the world seems to change around them. For his willingness to upset the association technology status-quo, Impexium is proud to recognize David King as one of 2018’s Association Technology Disruptors!
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