Live on the Internet for just a few months, Albany, N.Y.-based already boasts a full left-hand column of advertisers offering special deals for its 20-plus membership. While the newbie subcontractors' association lays claim to some of the same benefits offered by other more-established organizations (a voice in setting industry standards, a referral program, and a listing in a national directory) and some that they don't (a closed members-only forum), what sets apart from the rest, says the organization, is its mission to create agreements with manufacturers in order to offer its members discounts and rebates. In fact, the association guarantees that members using the referral program for purchases will save as much money as membership costs, or it will refund the difference.

The way the program works is that some vendors offer direct discounts to the association's members when they purchase items through the links on the Web page. Other vendors offer rebates. When members purchase items through the links on the site, the association receives a commission, which it then directly returns to the member who made the purchases. “We're set up to cut checks and return the rebates to the members on a monthly basis,” says Joe Roma, founder of the association, who is also a veteran subcontractor. “This isn't something other associations are structured to do.”

As membership grows, so will the organization's clout. Roma's aim is for manufacturers to give the association rebates from between 10% and 15%. “As a single contractor, you get a 3% to 4% discount over the general public, but it doesn't go much further than that,” Roma says. “The whole premise of is to get a whole bunch of members to force the manufacturers' hand in giving us greater discounts.”