SEMA News—April 2014
FROM THE HILL
By Dan Sadowski
Congressional District Site Visit Program Reconnects Rep. Patrick McHenry With Old Friends at Steele Rubber Products
Hosting elected officials at your business is an opportunity to establish long-term working relationships. In 2005, U.S. Representative Patrick McHenry (R-NC) visited Steele Rubber Products in Denver, North Carolina. Since that time, company officials have met with him on various occasions in his home district and Washington office during the SEMA Washington Rally. Recently, Rep. McHenry made a return visit to the manufacturing facility to catch up with some old friends.
Founded in 1958, Steele Rubber Products manufactures weatherstripping for windshields, doors, windows, hoods and trunks. The company also makes rubber parts that are hard to find, including gaskets, pedal pads, fuel-system parts and bumpers for restoration vehicles. Like many SEMA member companies, Steele Rubber is a family-owned and -operated business.
Rep. McHenry was elected in 2004 and is serving his fifth term in Congress. Prior to his election to Congress at age 29, McHenry represented the 109th District in the North Carolina House of Representatives. In 2001, McHenry was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as special assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Labor.
McHenry serves on the House Financial Services Committee and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He is a member of the SEMA-supported Congressional Automotive Performance and Motorsports Caucus, a bipartisan organization of legislators who understand the unique economic and cultural impact of the industry.
Executives for Steele Rubber Products are active SEMA volunteers. President Matt Agosta and Vice President of Marketing Eric Saltrick have served on two SEMA councils, the Automotive Restoration Market Organization and the Hot Rod Industry Alliance. Agosta and Steele’s Chief Financial Officer Debra Steele Lail are long-standing members of the SEMA Political Action Committee (PAC) President’s Club. Agosta also serves on the SEMA Council Government Affairs Committee, a working group designed to increase council participation and engagement with SEMA’s strategic legislative and regulatory priorities. Steele has hosted memorable events to commemorate Collector Car Appreciation Day each year in July by inviting legislators, local customers and car enthusiasts to a cruise at the Denver shop.
“The political and economic landscape has changed dramatically over the past eight years, so we welcomed the opportunity to host a second visit for Rep. McHenry,” said Agosta. “Our facility has expanded, we have hired more workers and installed new equipment. Meanwhile, the visit provided a meaningful exchange on issues of importance to our industry and our employees.”
When McHenry arrived at Steele Rubber Products, it did not take long for him to become reacquainted with Agosta and his staff. Although he had not been to the facility in many years, McHenry is very accessible to business owners and his constituents at local town hall meetings, Chamber of Commerce events and other public forums. In fact, Agosta has attended many of these off-site events to receive updates from Rep. McHenry about current activities in Washington and to keep a line of communication open with his office.
“Steele Rubber Products is a fixture in the community here in my district,” said McHenry. “I was pleased to visit its headquarters again to see firsthand the impressive growth and learn more about the company’s outstanding presence among SEMA volunteer leaders. Companies such as Steele Rubber Products are leading the way for America’s economic recovery, right here in North Carolina.”
During Rep. McHenry’s tour, Agosta, Lail and Saltrick provided a comprehensive overview of the company’s expansion and development over the past decade. Throughout the tour, McHenry was able to visit with Steele employees, some of whom he knew personally. Topics of interest included the need to reduce regulatory burdens, spur job creation and address spiraling health-care costs.
McHenry was impressed with the company’s substantial growth. He also applauded Steele’s contributions to the local motorsports industry in his North Carolina district near Charlotte, home to many significant race teams, shops and other manufacturers. In addition to restoration parts, Steele supplies many race teams with spring rubbers for competition.
The Congressional District Site Visit Program is administered by SEMA’s government affairs office in Washington, D.C. Given that members of Congress will be in their home districts more often during 2014, companies interested in hosting events with their elected officials are encouraged to contact SEMA Director of Congressional Affairs Dan Sadowski via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 202-783-6007 x19.
SEMA PAC President’s Club Spotlight: Nate Shelton
Nate Shelton is chief marketing officer at Driven Performance Brands, which is headquartered in Santa Rosa, California. Shelton is a two-year member of the SEMA PAC President’s Club and serves as chairman of the SEMA Board of Directors.
“As chairman of the SEMA Board, I know firsthand the vital role SEMA PAC plays in supporting our members on a variety of critical government affairs initiatives,” Shelton said.
“That’s why I am a member of the SEMA PAC President’s Club.”
For more information on SEMA PAC, please contact SEMA PAC Manager Christian Robinson at 202-783-6007 x20, or by e-mail at email@example.com.