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The Voice of Our Industry in Washington, DC: Why Supporting NAW Is More Important Than Ever

Chairman's Column - July 2009

Chip Hornsby
2009 NAW Chairman of the Board

I hope NAW member companies are weathering the economic storm reasonably well. While we’ve been through challenging times in the past, there is little doubt that this current economic situation is the most threatening. Unfortunately, the outlook for the next several months doesn’t show any real signs of improving across many sectors of our industry.


In addition to the real and very difficult economic concerns we face, I have enormous concerns for the political climate in Washington, DC, and the impact this climate will have on American business. While the current Administration didn’t create this recession, the enormous expenditures and budget deficits that the Obama Administration has already projected, will make doing business in the United States very challenging—even when the economy begins to stabilize.


This Administration and Congress appear to be very much anti-business and big-government focused. They seem to want to penalize anyone who has a hardworking, entrepreneurial spirit. When I look at legislative issues that are being promoted, including card check, cap and trade, government-run health care, LIFO repeal, mandated employee benefits, spending and tax increases of imaginable magnitude—just to name a few—it becomes clear to me that running successful organizations in the United States will be extremely difficult.


It is because of these anti-business and big-government initiatives that I encourage all NAW member companies to support NAW in its advocacy on behalf of the wholesale distribution industry. As I write this column, NAW has initiated a grassroots lobbying campaign on comprehensive health care reform legislation that is now on the move in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.  The basic message: Yes, we support health care reform because what we’ve experienced over the past decade and more has put tremendous pressure on our bottom lines, and the current situation is not sustainable for us or the good people we employ. However, reform must be done the right way; there are “reforms” that will actually make matters worse instead of better, many of which are included in legislation making its way through both houses of Congress.  Please participate in this grassroots campaign! To do so, go to the NAW Web site (http://www.naw.org). Click the “Tell Congress” button in the top right corner of your screen; this will link you to NAW’s “Take Action” E-Alert Program. Click on “Contact Congress: Get Healthcare Reform Right.” Easy-to-follow instructions, including talking points, will take you through the rest of the very quick process. 


A second issue on which NAW has begun to encourage wholesaler-distributors to contact their Federal legislators is the so-called “Healthy Families Act,” a bill that tells employers how much paid sick leave they must provide to every employee and under what circumstances. For background on the Healthy Families Act (and on health care reform too), click here to be linked to the NAW article “And the Hits Just Keep on Coming.” At that point, if you’re as concerned as am I, you’ll want to take a few moments and send a message to your Senators and Representatives.


I also encourage wholesaler-distributors that are not already NAW direct members to join this important organization that does such critical work for our industry. It is more important than ever that our industry be represented in Washington, DC, and no organization can represent us better than NAW.


As distribution executives, our focus is on cutting expenditures as much as possible during these tough economic times. However, during this global economic recession, we see NAW as a valuable investment in our country’s future in terms of protecting the well-being of our industry. As distribution executives, we want to be certain that we will have the opportunity to regain the value that we can offer our shareholders when the economy is again strong.


For me personally, I value the exceptional benchmarking and networking opportunities that NAW affords me. These opportunities are unmatched by any other association because only NAW reaches across all lines of trade within wholesale distribution. So important is NAW to me, that I have made it a priority to attend NAW’s Executive Summit, the Billion Dollar Company meetings, and every NAW Board of Directors meeting over the last six years. Frankly, outside of my family, I find NAW to be one of my highest priorities.


The bottom line is that I feel our industry desperately needs NAW, and NAW needs the support from all of us in wholesale distribution. NAW has been aggressive in bringing the hopes and concerns of our industry to policy makers on both sides of the partisan divide on Capitol Hill, and NAW will continue to do so going forward. But, NAW can’t do it alone. This organization needs our continued support if we want to ensure that our business voice is heard in our nation’s capital. I hope small and large companies across the wholesale distribution industry will join me in supporting NAW by either renewing your NAW membership or joining NAW as first-time direct members. Our industry depends on all of us together to support American business.