Attendees in record numbers enthusiastically participated in ARA’s day on Capitol Hill, held on Thursday, March 17. More than 60 ARA members participated and visited almost 100 members of Congress. The annual event is designed to get the automotive recycling industry recognized by lawmakers on Capitol Hill. This year’s Hill Day achieved this goal with overwhelming success.
On Wednesday afternoon Curtis Dubay, a senior tax policy specialist with the Heritage Foundation briefed the group on government threats to small business. His remarks were followed by a lively Q&A session with attendees.
“I really enjoyed the Heritage Foundation Speaker Curtis Dubay,” Mike Swift, Trails End Auto & Truck Salvage, Inc., Des Moines, Iowa, said. “He gave very thoughtful answers. It is nice to know that we have people, such as Curtis and the Heritage Foundation, looking out for all of us, especially in small business. I have since become a member of the Heritage Foundation.”
Following Curtis’ remarks, an information session briefed attendees on the topics for discussion on Hill Day – an overview of the recycling industry, Right to Repair, and NMVTIS.
Attendees headed over to Capitol Hill early Thursday morning to begin a full day of lobbying. We managed to see a lot of activity on the Hill on Thursday as President Obama, Vice-President Biden, and the Irish Prime Minister made their way to the Capitol for the annual congressional St. Patrick’s Day luncheon. The ARA luncheon, sponsored by URG/Pinnacle, was in the House Rayburn building this year and featured Representative Charlie Bass (R-NH) and Representative Steven LaTourette (R-OH) as key-note speakers.
Both representatives spoke about their support of small businesses and their desire to get government out of the way by making it smaller. They both expressed support for 1099 repeal. Representative Bass is a car aficionado and regaled the group with stories of his trips, since childhood, to salvage yards for parts. Representative Bass also noted that he photographs salvage cars for a calendar and is always looking for that perfect shot. Representative LaTourette stressed the importance of communicating with your member of Congress about issues important to you and making a personal connection with congressional staff. Both Representatives noted that their doors are always open to ARA and provided encouragement for the members who had meetings scheduled with their legislators later that afternoon. After the luncheon, most attendees went on to afternoon appointments, and the day officially wrapped up at about 4:00 p.m.
ARA members averaged four meetings each with members of Congress this year, with some handling up to eight meetings. All the meetings resulted in leaving behind educational and industry name-branding information packets with the respective congressional offices. There is no doubt that following Hill Days 2011, members of Congress and their staffs are aware that automotive recycling is a thriving industry with important concerns to address.
“As the Executive Director of ARM, I know how important it is for us to participate in Hill Days events,” Barb Utter said, “but I must admit, the time it takes to set up all the appointments sometimes makes the thought of attending totally overwhelming. Truly, because it takes many, many hours to coordinate schedules so we can see as many legislators as possible in our allotted amount time. But thanks to Elizabeth and Betsy, who made our appointments for us this year, the event was wonderful and stress free for me. I am appreciative for the time and effort they spent on my behalf. Thanks for a job well done.”
“It is a wonderful experience to see how government works and to be a part of it,” says recycler attendee Jeff Kantor, Car-World.
ARANY Executive Director Jerry Delucca agrees, “Hill Days gives me and ARANY members a terrific opportunity to educate our representatives about the impact and benefits of our industry. We had good meetings with six of our legislators. Two of them are freshman and we have a great opportunity to provide them with our perspective. In fact, both Senator’s offices raised issues that we had brought to them previously.”
“I see how important it is to go see our representatives to tell them about auto recycling,” says first-time event attendee Mike Swift, Trail’s End Auto & Truck Salvage. “We have to keep spreading the message on how our industry provides a great service. Our industry is one that can help with the environment but can also help with the economy, with many of our operations being family-owned by the 3rd, 4th, and 5th generations. I am already making plans to attend next year.”
Steve Levetan, Pull-A-Part, LLC, says, “Great ARA staff support makes this easy for ARA members – from appointment making to putting together great handout packages.”
To close the event, ARA hosted a fun-filled night benefitting the ARA PAC. ARA’s St. Patrick’s Day Celebration and Casino Night was a great way to unwind from the busy day of meetings and raise money for the Political Action Contribution (PAC) fund. Graciously sponsored by our friends from Auto Data Direct, members who attended contributed more than $5,000 to the ARA PAC.
“The current Congress is friendly and supportive to small businesses and our industry,” said Elizabeth Vermette, Director of Government Affairs. “These donations will help us support pro-business and pro-recycling members of Congress in the next election cycle and help maintain the current balance in Congress.” (You can get information or donate to the ARA PAC by contacting Elizabeth Vermette at email@example.com.)
Since the event, ARA staff has been busy following up with all members of Congress and their staffs who indicated a willingness to help advance our concerns.
The 2012 event planning is underway, scheduled for March 14-16 at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill. With the 2012 election in full swing at that time, it will be an especially exciting time to be in Washington, D.C.
ARA extends its appreciation to all the participants who took time away from their businesses to come to Washington, D.C., to play an essential role in the event. Special thanks goes to Jeff Kantor and George Sapir for their work and efforts to secure the attendance of both distinguished Congressmen at the Hill Days luncheon.
Elizabeth Vermette is ARA’s Director of Government Affairs.
Attend ARA’s 2011 ARA Legislative Summit to be held in Nashville, Tennessee on July 18 and 19.
Go to www.a-r-a.org for information, or contact Elizabeth Vermette at (571) 208-0428 or firstname.lastname@example.org
During Hill Days, the newly-formed Ladies of the Automotive Recyclers Association (L.A.R.A.) had a chance to meet officially for a second time. Their time began with opening remarks reporting on L.A.R.A. activities from Sandy Blalock, one of the group’s founders. Then, they welcomed ARA’s Director of Government Affairs Elizabeth Vermette and ARA consultant Betsy Beckwith to report on ARA’s ongoing activities on Capitol Hill.
A lively open discussion followed on specific ways L.A.R.A. can network to bring positive attention to the automotive recycling industry in local communities. Some ideas included:
• Developing an open relationship with local charities that need slightly used articles that are found in damaged vehicles. Many items collected are re-useable, further adding to the recycling message.
• Hosting a “Car Care Awareness Day” for women at the facility.
• Talking to other local women’s groups about how our industry has changed to become more accessible to women and to other industries.
• Ongoing work to build the confidence of customers to reinforce that a woman’s industry knowledge is as creditable as any other salesperson.
• Focusing on the educational and training aspects of the industry.
L.A.R.A. extends its appreciation to lunch sponsor Blalock Consulting