We all know that the impact Congress has on the chemical distribution industry can be far reaching. Whether they’re writing new laws, reauthorizing existing laws, or failing to act on issues important to our industry, Congress has the ability to both positively and negatively affect our industry and the choices individual companies make to remain successful. Luckily, we each have the opportunity to engage with Congress to make sure our voice is heard. There is nothing more influential that your business could do than to invite your Member of Congress to tour your facility and engage with them to discuss issues critical to your business and the chemical distribution industry.
Many NACD members have hosted site visits over the years. NACD Government Advocacy Committee Chairman Bob Moser, Senior Vice President of Global Accounts at Brenntag AG, is a great example of someone who has invited not one, but many, of his company’s Congressional representatives to his company’s locations. He recently gave us a thorough explanation on why it is valuable to NACD members like you, and the industry as a whole, to host your Member of Congress:
We’ve all heard the old adage that ‘A picture is worth a thousand words.’ Having your local legislators visit your site is no different. Chemical distribution is an industry of which very few people have knowledge. Thus, the only thing they hear is ‘chemical,’ and odds are good their initial perception is negative.
A site visit accomplishes several things. First, it provides an opportunity to build a personal relationship with your legislators. This is equally important at the local, state, and federal levels. (Think of this like building a relationship with your primary care doctor. You can certainly go to a doctor for help if you have never seen him or her before, but it is far more effective if the doctor has known you for some time before you need them for a problem). This personal relationship allows for more interactive discussions with your legislators in the future should you need assistance with regulatory authorities, zoning authorities, rapid hiring, addressing bad incidents, etc. The site visit provides an opportunity for the legislator to learn what chemical distributors do, better understand the types of customers you support, realize that safety is a key and core component for all we do, and learn that we provide well-paying and long-term career opportunities for many people across multiple skill sets.
Another positive outcome of site visits is that they allow your employees, many of whom will also reside within the boundaries of the legislator’s district, to meet him or her in person, most likely for the first time in their lives. This is always valuable and allows your legislator to hear directly from his or her constituents about why your company is a good place to work and what issues are important to them as constituents.
If NACD is working on legislative topics such as CFATS reauthorization or legislation addressing the truck driver shortage, then having your legislator visit your facility, be shown your investments in site security, and given the opportunity to understand your challenges in hiring qualified truck drivers — and see these things live and in person — will make the topics far more real for the legislator. He or she can then better understand what we wish to happen when it is time to vote on the new laws.
Also, realize that knowledge of what your business does allows the legislator to be a voice for you throughout your community. Giving him or her a positive experience will be communicated to other businesses during other site visits. This can do nothing but help to build your business and reputation in your communities.
The last reason to host site visits is they are FUN. Take pictures of the attendees, (of course, with their permission), and use those in your social media outreach. Talk up your business and make the visit feel like you would if you were hosting a customer or key supplier. It is good publicity for the guest as well as for you. There are always unexpected positive outcomes from being a hospitable and enjoyable host. Good luck!
Last year alone, NACD helped facilitate 20 site visits throughout the United States! This year, NACD’s goal is to complete 25 site visits by the end of the year. The best part is, we’re here to help coordinate your visit. One of our staff members will reach out directly to your Member of Congress’ office to coordinate a date and time for the Member to tour your facility. And. we’ll work directly with you to make sure you’re prepared for the big day.
If you’re interested in setting up a facility tour at one of your locations, more information can be found on the Site Visits page of the NACD website. You can also reach out to Erin Getz at firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope you’ll take advantage of the opportunity to host your lawmaker, and we’re happy to help in any way we can!