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Be the squeaky wheel

The 2009 American Boating Congress is over, but that doesn’t mean the mission is accomplished.

Lobbying for the interests of your business and the marine industry in general is a year-round job. Just ask the staff at the National Marine Manufacturers Association. The Washington, D.C., staff members are good at getting the industry’s message to key policy makers, but they’ll be the first to tell you that the message is better received when it comes directly from a constituent.

For ABC attendees thinking they have done their part, there is more you can do. And for those who were unable to attend because of budget constraints or any other reason, you can still step up to the plate.

“With the stroke of a pen we can be legislated out of business,” NMMA board chairman David Slikkers told ABC attendees Wednesday. “The most effective thing you can do today is make your voice heard, but not just today — every day you do business.”

He said the first step is to establish a relationship with your representatives. Call them and arrange a meeting at their home office, or invite them on a tour of your facility to see what you do and to meet your employees. Put a name and a face on the issues you want them to support.

Continue to meet with them on a regular basis, at least quarterly, Slikkers says. Follow up on these visits with letters to remind them of who you are and what issues are important to your business. Ask if you can be of any help, such as providing more information to guide them in their decision making.

In order to be heard above the din of other groups vying for their own legislative agendas, you need to be the proverbial squeaky wheel. Be friendly, be respectful, but squeak away.

— Melanie Winters
Associate editor



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