Rallying the Legislators: Help Build Relationships

SEMA News—March 2016

Chris Kersting

Rallying the Legislators: Help Build Relationships

  Chris Kersting
   

Our cover story this month calls attention to a significant shift in how the federal government regulates replica cars. Enactment of this law was a great victory for SEMA and the industry, but exactly how this win was achieved is, perhaps, even more important. In many ways, we can chalk it up to a long-term effort to build key relationships.

As small businesses, SEMA-member companies know well the importance of relationships in their day-to-day activities. Personal relationships—with customers, suppliers, bankers, insurance agents and others—allow for trust, good communication and cooperative understandings that ultimately create the foundation that allows a business to flourish. It’s no different when it comes to addressing our industry’s concerns in Washington, D.C., and in state capitols. The process of building relationships with lawmakers allows SEMA to be successful in gathering support for our legislative initiatives.

That was the case with the new replica law championed by SEMA and its members. Getting this legislation signed into law is a perfect example of how relationships make a difference and yield productive results. You can learn about the details of the new law starting on page 22 of this issue. In essence, the law provides a path for small companies to produce a limited number of replica cars within a simplified regulatory system. The new law will, for the first time, allow these small-volume auto manufacturers to offer a range of complete, brand-new replica cars to an eager public.

By building relationships with members of Congress and working to find common ground with a wide variety of stakeholders, SEMA was able to identify a compromise solution that reduces the costly and time-consuming regulatory requirements for mass-produced vehicles. SEMA members met with their federal lawmakers over the past several years to help communicate how a change to the law could fairly and reasonably create new business and job opportunities. Some of these visits occurred at the Washington Rally organized by SEMA and held biannually in May. SEMA staff also worked extensively with members of the legislature. It took time, but in the end, 24 members of the U.S. House of Representatives from both parties sponsored SEMA’s bill, and bipartisan support from two U.S. Senators proved vital in securing final Congressional approval. Make no mistake, this kind of cooperative effort could not have happened without the understanding and trust generated by personal, face-to-face communication.

We are proud that this law will create skilled-labor jobs in the auto industry, expand export opportunities, and help preserve our American automotive heritage. The new law is a victory for SEMA-member companies, workers and consumers.

Meanwhile, much remains to be done on a variety of other legislative issues that still need urgent attention. The next SEMA Washington Rally will take place on May 11, and we invite you to join us. It is an opportunity for SEMA members to connect face-to-face with elected members of Congress and let them know what matters most to you and your business and the people who work with you. Building relationships with these key decision-makers can yield future benefits for your company and the industry. Scheduled events during the Rally include SEMA staff-guided one-on-one meetings with lawmakers and their staff, an exclusive Capitol Hill luncheon with special guests, and a private dinner with high-profile legislators.

The Rally registration deadline is May 1, 2016. To register or for more information, visit www.sema.org/dcrally, or contact Christian Robinson by phone at 202-783-6007 x20 or via e-mail at christianr@sema.org.

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