Every day our federal government makes decisions that influence the lumber and building material industry. Your lobbyists at NLBMDA are charged with protecting our industry's interests on Capitol Hill, but members of Congress look to you, their constituents, for “real world” examples of how legislation affects business.
Terry Holm, NLBMDA's 2005 Grassroots Dealer of the Year, illustrates how dealers can make a difference promoting issues that affect their companies and our industry. Holm is the operations manager at Edward Hines Lumber Co. in Buffalo Grove, Ill., and is a board member of the Illinois Lumber and Material Dealers Association (ILMDA). He works with other Illinois dealers to reach out to legislators within their state; the dealers in Illinois work together to meet with all 10 representatives and both senators representing their state at least once each year. “There are two sides to any story, and legislators need to know our side. They do listen,” Holm says about his involvement in government affairs.
Holm finds that legislators nearly always make the time to meet with them. “Contacting legislators is no different than contacting customers or suppliers,” he says. “They serve us just as we serve them.” Even if the legislators do not always agree with the dealers, dialogue is made and a connection is bridged.
ILMDA attends NLBMDA's annual Legislative Conference; Holm himself began attending three or four years ago and finds it an enjoyable and rewarding opportunity to network with other dealers while advancing the industry's agenda on Capitol Hill. He suggests that the other dealers take advantage of the information and resources provided by NLBMDA and their state associations, and take the time to get involved with government issues.
Visit NLBMDA's Dealer Involvement Center at www.dealer.org/html/dealerinvolvement.html for quick and easy tools to influence your representatives. And save the dates—April 3–5, 2006—for next year's NLBMDA Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. —Patty Fishleigh is the government affairs intern for NLBMDA.