SEMA News—March 2011
FROM THE HILL
Representative Marsha Blackburn Tours RTM Productions
By Dan Sadowski
Taking part in the Congressional District Site Visit Program call at RTM Productions in Franklin, Tennessee, were (from left) Donnie Eatherly, president of P&E Distributors; Cara Dalmolin and Mike Knotts from the office of Rep. Marsha Blackburn; Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN); Joe St. Lawrence, president of RTM Productions; Patty Bledsoe St. Lawrence, COO of RTM Productions; Zan Martin, president of Martin & Company Advertising; and Jim Cozzie, former chairman of the SEMA Board of Directors and executive vice president of RTM Productions.
SEMA-member RTM Productions welcomed Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) for a behind-the-scenes tour and legislative briefing at its headquarters in Franklin, Tennessee. Established in 1989, RTM produces automotive, outdoor and entertainment programming for television, including the acclaimed PowerBlockTV series. In 2006, RTM consolidated its three locations and moved into a state-of-the-art, 50,000-sq.-ft. facility. The production technical center features six full production studios and five editing suites along with the company’s business offices.
Rep. Blackburn was first elected to represent Tennessee’s 7th Congressional District in 2002 and is now serving her fifth term in Congress. She owns a small-business marketing company and, before coming to Washington, was active in state and local politics. She served in the Tennessee State Senate from 1998–2002, where she led a grassroots campaign to defeat a proposed state income tax.
Rep. Blackburn has been a strong advocate for small businesses in Congress, serving on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. She is the Republican Deputy Whip, an important position for coordinating party positions and votes in the House. Rep. Blackburn is also a member of the Congressional Automotive Performance and Motorsports Caucus.
At RTM Productions, Rep. Blackburn was greeted by Chief Operating Officer Patty Bledsoe St. Lawrence and President Joe St. Lawrence as well as Executive Vice President and former chairman of the SEMA Board of Directors Jim Cozzie. Joining the tour were SEMA Board members and constituents Zan Martin, president of Martin & Company Advertising, and Donnie Eatherly, president of P&E Distributors. Based in Nashville, Martin & Company specializes in public relations and marketing strategies for the automotive aftermarket. P&E Distributors is a premier automotive wholesale distribution center in Goodlettsville, Tennessee.
Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) was first elected to represent Tennessee’s 7th Congressional District in 2002 and is now serving her fifth term in Congress as Republican Deputy Whip. She owns a small business marketing company and is also a member of the Congressional Automotive Performance and Motorsports Caucus.
The RTM tour featured visits to the PowerblockTV studios and production facilities, including the stage sets for RTM shows “Xtreme 4x4,” “Trucks!,” “HorsePower” and “MuscleCar.” Following the tour, Blackburn led a discussion regarding critical issues in Washington, including how to make health care more affordable for small-business owners and increasing access to credit to spur economic growth.
“Small businesses are the engines of our economy, and they will drive our recovery,” Rep. Blackburn said. “As we get to work in Washington creating the environment for jobs growth, it is vital that I stay in touch with the job creators in Tennessee. This visit gave me a wonderful perspective on RTM’s challenges as well as its incredible potential.”
Cozzie congratulated Rep. Blackburn on her leadership in the new Congress and wished her the best of luck for a productive year.
“We appreciate Representative Blackburn’s hands-on approach to constituent service here in her district, especially her fight against increased health care premiums for business owners,” Cozzie said. “Having the opportunity to showcase RTM’s production facilities and discuss local issues with our lawmakers through SEMA’s Congressional District Site Visit Program is invaluable.”
The Congressional District Site Visit Program is overseen by SEMA’s government affairs office in Washington, D.C. The program allows SEMA members to raise the visibility of the industry on Capitol Hill by connecting lawmakers with their constituents in their home districts. The RTM event was Blackburn’s second program visit. In 2003, she toured the Hypertech Inc. headquarters and met with local constituents.
Any company interested in hosting an event at its facilities with its federal elected officials may contact Congressional Affairs Manager Dan Sadowski via e-mail or by calling 202/783-6007 x19.