’72 Hours’: The Voice of Manufacturing Speaks Out

By March 7, 2007Economy, Energy, Innovation, Trade

NAM President John Engler has a column in today’s “The Hill” entitled, “72 hours of sleet and lobbying success,” a reference to the association’s congressional outreach program, “72 Hours to Educate and Celebrate.” (Governor Engler’s preview column here.)

As with all major national trade associations, Engler notes, the NAM makes good use of a professional staff of policy, public affairs and communication experts. But for the biggest possible impact on Capitol Hill, we rely on our members. Case in point:

Steve Lethert, controller of Wood’s Powr-Grip Co., traveled from Laurel, Mont., to talk about the research tax credit, competition from Asia and the coming energy crunch — all critical concerns for this small manufacturer of vacuum-lifting equipment.

His experience demonstrates the real benefit of being there in person. The NAM outreach was the first time Lethert had the opportunity to meet with Congressman Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.), who spent a generous half-hour talking issues. Despite being a small-sized manufacturer, Powr-Grip makes profitable use of the R&D tax credit, Lethert said, a point he was able to elaborate upon in person.

Following a good meeting with the staff of Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), the senator made a point of stopping by, as well. The Panamanian ambassador was in the office, introductions were made, and now Powr-Grip is on a list of companies for which the senator hopes to arrange a Central American trade mission.

The staff of Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., was also extremely helpful, Steve reports.

The lobbying business is often portrayed as somehow suspect, populated by people willing to cut ethical corners. Sure, those folks exist, but they are few and far between. The job of educating members of Congress more typically — and more effectively — falls to people like Steve and the hundreds of other NAM members who braved the sleet of February to come to Washington. Our thanks to them.

P.S. Coincidently, today’s Examiner carries an informative story — “Grassroots lobbyists throng Congress” — about other trade associations bringing in their members from around the country for their annual fly-ins.