SEMA News—April 2013
FROM THE HILL
By Dan Sadowski
Rocky Mountain High
Colorado’s Bestop Shares Success of Congressional District Site Visit Program
Summer is a great time to be outdoors in Colorado and, given the favorable conditions, it’s also a great time to be out on the trail. Therefore, it was no surprise when Bestop Inc., a leading supplier of off-road truck and Jeep accessories that provide access to the backcountry, welcomed Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) to its headquarters last July in Broomfield, Colorado. The event included a tour of Bestop’s production and distribution facilities and a detailed briefing session. Rep. Polis also addressed and took questions from Bestop’s employees.
Rep. Polis was elected to represent Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District in 2008. In Washington, Polis serves on the powerful House Rules Committee and the Education and Workforce Committee. Prior to his service in Congress, Polis was elected to the Colorado State Board of Education, where he served for six years. Polis also founded two innovative charter schools during his tenure on the board. Early in his career, he launched Bluemountain.com and Proflowers.com and was named an “Entrepreneur of the Year” by the accounting firm Ernst and Young.
Over the past two years, more than a dozen SEMA-member companies have hosted members of Congress at their facilities. The visits are valuable opportunities for SEMA members to meet with their elected officials in a familiar setting and showcase their products, employees and community presence. SEMA Board of Directors member and Bestop Director of Sales and Marketing Jim Chick shared insights on the program.
“Bestop has been a SEMA member for nearly 40 years, so we viewed the site visit as a great opportunity made possible through our membership,” Chick said. “Bestop had never before hosted an elected official. With Rep. Polis’s heavy business background, he was able to identify with Bestop’s larger concerns for profitability and sustainability.”
Recognizing the company’s involvement in the local economy was also an impor-tant factor.
“Being a Colorado-based manufacturer for more than 59 years, Bestop has a stake in local, state and national political matters,” Chick said. “SEMA’s 2012 Washington Rally prompted us to take action and become better acquainted with our federal legislators. The site visit also allowed executive management to ask pertinent questions on topics that dealt with both our industry and our company, including tax reform, health care and growth incentives. The event was also attended by local Jeep enthusiasts and staff from Restyling magazine as well as members of SEMA and the SEMA Action Network.”
While participants had a chance to tour the facility, the direct personal interaction with a member of Congress was seen as the highlight of the day.
“Due to SEMA’s planning effort, employees and fellow Jeep club members were able to speak personally with Rep. Polis in a venue where he could answer each question thoroughly,” said Chick. “Land-use legislation remains a huge factor in our Jeeping-oriented business, so it only made sense to share our concerns and to hear Rep. Polis’s strategy on preserving land for future off-road enthusiasts. By hosting the site visit, we were able to provide a one-on-one forum to discuss the issues facing our company and industry.”
The Congressional District Site Visit Program is a key component of the SEMA government affairs mission. The best time to host an event is during Congressional “district work periods,” when members of Congress are in their home communities. Many elected officials are actively pursuing opportunities to visit businesses in their districts. SEMA members are encouraged to contact Director of Congressional Affairs Dan Sadowski at dans@SEMA.org to plan an event and take advantage of this unique program.
SEMA PAC President’s Club In the Spotlight
Ernie Silvers is the CEO of SEMA-member Egge Machine Co. in Santa Fe Springs, California. Silvers has been a SEMA PAC President’s Club member since 2005 and is a member of the SEMA PAC board of directors.
“Helping our legislators understand how new regulations can and do impact the automotive industry is essential to its long-term survival,” Silvers said.
“Steve McDonald and the SEMA Washington, D.C., staff ensure that SEMA-member interests are well represented in Washington. The SEMA PAC provides the essential resources required for this vital work to be accomplished successfully. That’s why I’m a SEMA PAC President’s Club member.”