That idea led to the creation of a scholarship program, which was launched in 1998, with the initial awards granted for the 1999-2000 school year.
Since then, at least five scholarships have been awarded each year in amounts generally ranging from $1,000 to $3,000. The association's members fund the program through donations, and any surplus from their seminars goes into the scholarship fund.
The sentiment that drove the association to start the program remains the same today, but the program itself has evolved over time.
"The original idea was [to] concentrate on schools with programs in industrial distribution," says Frank Brown, executive vice president of the CBSA. "So we selected 17 or 18 schools that had that course of study, and we concentrated on them."
Starting with the 2004-2005 school year, however, the association expanded the program to grant scholarships to students with a parent employed by one of CBSA's more than 60 member companies, regardless of their major.
Last year's recipients are studying subjects that include education, Spanish, business administration, chemical engineering, political science and nursing, according to Brown.
He says this change spurred the program's growth, allowing CBSA to help more students. Additionally, it has been a boon to the association, as well as its member companies.
"We've received some nice comments from presidents of companies, saying, "So-and-so was thrilled to get the scholarship and was appreciative of our company's belonging to CBSA. My employees and I really appreciate the association's bestowing these grants," says Brown. "It's a win-win situation."
Students applying for a scholarship must be in their freshman, sophomore or junior year at a four-year college. They also must demonstrate financial need, meet grade point average requirements and submit an essay and letters of recommendation, among other requirements.
Last year, 41 students applied, and the association awarded $16,000 in scholarships to 12 students, with each receiving between $1,000 and $3,000. It was a record for the number of applicants and recipients, as well as the total amount of money available for scholarships.
Many CBSA member companies, including Brush Wellman Inc., Mayfield Heights, Ohio, have been actively involved in the scholarship program since its inception.
Brian Sparrow, managing director for the Americas at Brush Wellman, says the company has had four scholarship recipients over the years, with awards totaling $4,500.
"I'm pleased that CBSA has chosen to participate in such a scholarship," he says. "The program has been supported and well-received by Brush Wellman and its employees."
Another company with strong ties to the scholarship program is Southern Copper & Supply Co. Inc., Pelham, Ala. Garret Herringdon, general manager, serves as chairman of CBSA's education committee, and this will be his fourth year reviewing scholarship applications.
"It humbles you to see how many great kids there are out there with great qualities, great grades and a lot of activities," says Herringdon. "I wish we could give each and every one of them a scholarship."
And although he says it's difficult to determine which applicants will get funding, he tries to focus on the positive impacts of the overall program. "It's a great thing to be able to help people within our industry," says Herringdon. "It's a small industry, so we consider everybody family--and it's good to see we're able to help people within our own CBSA family." MM