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Seeing Is Believing: Virtual Site Visits and COVID-19

As chemical distributors, so much of the important work we do in getting Americans the products they rely on every day happens behind the scenes in warehouses, blending facilities, and other onsite locations. While chemical distributors are all perfectly aware of the hard work that goes into ensuring these facilities are run efficiently and safely in accordance with NACD Responsible Distribution®, key stakeholders like our federal representatives often don’t fully “get it” until they see our operations first-hand.

Site visits have long served as an important tool to give elected officials and policymakers visibility into the important work chemical distributors do. So often, seeing really is believing — especially when it comes to explaining the steps we take to keep our facilities safe and secure. While in-person site visits are not an option in the current environment, some NACD members have already begun conducting virtual site visits.

Virtual site visits can accomplish many of the same objectives as an in-person visit. Not only do they offer a great forum to enhance an elected official’s understanding of your operations and what you’re doing to adjust to work during COVID-19, they also provide a great opportunity to advocate for evergreen policy priorities like reauthorization of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards program and newer ones like adding clarity to how chemical distributors can use small business loans. On top of that, virtual site visits are less of a time commitment for a Member of Congress and as a result easier to schedule. They can also serve as a great stepping-stone to securing an in-person visit further down the road.

Kurt Hettinga, President of Superior Solvents & Chemicals and Vice Chairman of NACD’s Board of Directors, has taken part in several virtual site visits and offered some thoughts as to what companies have to gain: “It can be hard to get an elected official to commit to drive several hours to visit one of our facilities. It’s a barrier you oftentimes can’t get past — even if they are genuinely interested in your business and the work you do in their district.” Hettinga explained, “So far, we’ve gotten every virtual site visit we’ve asked for. These are great opportunities to further a legislator's understanding of what we do and what we mean to the communities we operate in.”

While setting up and preparing for a virtual site visit may feel new and daunting, NACD will be there to help you every step of the way. We work with Congressional offices to schedule the virtual site visits, we set up the Zoom calls, and we participate to help facilitate the flow of the conversation once things are started. All you have to do is charge your laptop, dial in, and be prepared to show all the great work you’re doing.

In these uncertain times, chemical distributors continue to operate as essential businesses in many states — serving as a cornerstone of economic stability in the communities we call home. Nowadays, it has never been so important to demonstrate that value to Members of Congress.

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