Resolve to Get Involved

Peter Connor, VP of Nicolet Hardwoods and WD Flooring, gives Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) a tour of the Nicolet Hardwoods facility in Laona, Wisconsin. Photo courtesy of Dana Cole.

The new year is almost upon us, and 2018 promises to be just as exciting as the last few years in Washington, D.C. Members will return in late January to begin the second half of the 115th Congress, and we will be watching their activities carefully, monitoring what they will and won’t be working on that impacts the hardwood industry.

2018 is also an election year. Elections always have the potential to change the course and tone of Washington, D.C., and this year is no different. Once elected officials swing into full-time campaign mode, they will be spending a great deal of time in their home states and districts making the case about why they should get to return to Washington. Challengers will be making their case too; why incumbents should be rejected and how new blood and ideas will reinvigorate the political process.

It is too soon to tell what the outcome in November will be (although the media is already busy making predictions). However, it is not too early to start thinking about how you can make a difference. Once candidates dive into the campaign, they will be looking for ways to connect with and impress their constituents. As a voter, you have the unique power to educate and inform those who will be considering legislation and policy that impacts your bottom line.

Certainly town hall meetings are an excellent opportunity to see the candidates in action. Debates, live or telecast, also have the power to inform. However, one of the best ways to make a lasting impression upon any decision maker is to invite them to your place of business and let them see, feel, and smell what it takes to work in the wood flooring industry in 2018.

Conducting mill or site visits for elected officials at any level of government – local, state, or federal – is an excellent way to build relationships for your company and increase support for a pro-growth, pro-business, pro-hardwood agenda. Likewise, they provide unique opportunities for lawmakers to meet with their constituents, hear the success stories and the struggles that you face, and see firsthand how their policies work in real life. Facility tours educate lawmakers on the importance of the hardwood industry in the economy. They paint the perfect picture of the hardwood industry at work.

The definition of elected officials covers a wide variety of individuals, including those elected to local city councils or mayors’ offices, those who represent your community in state legislatures and governors’ offices, and those who serve as members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate in Washington, D.C. It is vital that people at every level of government understand why your business is essential to your community. Policy, rules, and legislation happen at every level of government, and many of those elected at the local level will continue their careers at the state level and in Congress, bringing their experience and awareness with them as they move from one rung of the political ladder to the next.

Facility visits can also provide excellent press opportunities for your company. Better yet, elected officials will remember your role in your community and your hospitality. The Hardwood Federation has developed a guide to help you plan, prepare for, and conduct a successful facility tour and ensure that your experience is as effective as possible. You will find a simple, yet thorough, checklist to follow to ensure your facility tour runs as smoothly as possible. The guide is available on our website at hardwoodfederation.com.

The Hardwood Federation is here to help you with the process, and if you have any questions or need assistance along the way, please do not hesitate to ask. We are here to help you.

Dana Cole is Executive Director at the Hardwood Federation, a Washington D.C.-based hardwood industry trade association that represents thousands of hardwood businesses in every state in the U.S. and acts as the industry’s advocacy voice on Capitol Hill. She can be reached at dana.cole@hardwoodfederation.com.

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