Last week I had the pleasure and honor of joining the Equipment Dealers Assn. and many of you out in Washington, D.C. for the AED/EDA Fly-In. And despite the federal government being shutdown due to a light snow storm, it was a busy and productive 3 days in the capital. After spending Wednesday being briefed on some of topics we’d be lobbying in support of, we took to the Hill on Thursday, meeting with congressmen. The primary points of emphasis were infrastructure — primarily the need for rural broadband, avoiding a trade war and what tariffs could mean for the ag economy, and workforce development.
While there was a good number of dealers at the event, there were certainly more who stayed home than made the trip out to D.C. What kept you home? During his opening comments, Tom Rosztoczy, president of Stotz Equipment and EDA Board Chair, shared a story about how he was unsure of what sort of difference he was making after his first Fly-In.
Right to Repair legislation had come up in Wyoming, where Stotz has two locations, but the dealership didn’t learn about the legislation until a week before it was going to be voted on. With the help of the Far West Equipment Dealers Assn., they got to work and through grassroots efforts were able to make a big impact. While the bill passed committee without any problems, overwhelmingly the legislature voted against it, largely due to dealers reaching out and stating their case.
“The opportunity for impact comes more from building relationships and beating the drum. Then, perhaps at some point in the future when something serious is there, that we have significant interest in, then the relationships we build this week can come into play and we can actually have an impact,” Rosztoczy says. “These events help us build infrastructure, so we know how to organize, we know how to get dealers in, and get dealers connected to their senators and representatives.”
During the closing reception Tim Wentz, field director for the Northeast Equipment Dealers Assn., asked me what it’s going to take to get dealers more politically involved and active. I didn’t have an answer for him. I didn’t understand either. From dealer bill of rights laws and right to repair, and a host of other issues, there is a lot of legislation— on the state and federal levels — that could directly impact your business. So here’s my challenge to you:
If you couldn’t make it out to D.C., visit your senators and representatives at their district offices (they’re home right now). Get to know your state and local officials. Speak up for yourself, for your business and for our industry. Build the relationship so when you need them, they know who you are and want to fight for you.