Growing up in the 1980’s and 1990’s I was one of the few boys in my schools and neighborhood who were not into comic books and superheroes. I was too busy running around on soccer fields and having a blast traveling around with my father to political conventions and hole in the wall antique stores looking for Presidential campaign collectibles. I would watch the occasional Batman show on television when I was home sick but never got into the stories or broader superhero world. Fast forward to 2024; I am now married, Hollywood has decided they have a huge money making idea, and I have two teenagers at home. Not a week goes by where we are not seeing a trailer for a new superhero movie or watching an old Avenger movie.

All of this new found education into the world of superheroes got me to thinking just what is it that makes these stories so compelling? And I have centered my answer on one idea; we love it when you can take a group of people with different backgrounds, different skillsets, and different “powers” that might make a couple of ripples in the world on their own, but when you assemble them into a unit, watch out! To this end, the Avengers were a crazy team of superheroes from all walks of life and with all sorts of powers, but when they heard the rallying cry “Avengers Assemble!” they came together and battled side by side.

We began this adventure of starting a Government Affairs Program for STI/SPFA in the not too distant past. If you are not familiar with what we are doing, in a nutshell we are building a unified voice for our industry to our elected officials and government bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. With trade, taxes, China, agency regulations surrounding labor continuing to take up the oxygen in the Halls of Congress and the White House we cannot sit by idly and assume they know how their decisions will impact our businesses and industries. When I was a staff member for a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, I would take dozens of meetings a day across the issue spectrum; ag policy, a random tax provision here, why the Congressman should support funding this research program, how this new technology could solve our aging bridges throughout the country, and the list goes on. I honestly would not have been able to do my job effectively if I had not taken the time to build trusting relationships with people throughout all those industries who I could ask questions of and learn from. But honestly, I also wouldn’t be able to know where to turn if many of those people had not taken the time to introduce themselves to me. We place a heavy amount of responsibility on our elected officials, but we must remember we cannot expect them to be experts in every issue and industry that they are tasked with acting on behalf of.

So let me bring the Avengers and my former job into full focus. Members of STI/SPFA remind me a little bit of the Avengers. You come from all corners of the country; some are tank producers; some are pipe manufacturers; some are suppliers; some are small businesses; some are large businesses. On your own you may be able to have a little impact, but when we join together as one STI/SPFA, we have the opportunity to make a massive impact for our industry as a whole. It is paramount that we join together and tell the story of our industry in one, unified voice. You see, if we are not, someone else is most likely in Washington, D.C. telling our story for us and that is never a good thing.

Historically speaking, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives typically had large gaps between the majority and minority parties for long stretches of time. One party typically had great power in Washington, D.C. when they held the majority. In 1980, this trend seemed to change and we have seen narrowing majorities ever since, and in more recent times, more wave elections and power flip-flops quicker than we have typically seen. Over the past 24 years, we have seen massive percentages of turnover in Members of Congress, with some elections in recent years approaching 24% turnover in the House of Representatives. This causes massive disruption to legislating, something we have recently seen with the House of Representatives and Senate both controlled by different parties with razor thin majorities. It is in time like these that we need to ensure we have a seat at the table and a unified voice that will be heard.

Elected officials are always looking for “allies” in their elective districts who they can count on to provide timely advice and information, trusted background on a particular issue, and local backing when they need to defend a vote or decision. In the grand scheme of trade associations active in Washington, D.C., STI/SPFA is relatively small. We are not the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, or the American Chemistry Council. We are however, an extremely niche and extremely vital industry to our nation’s economy, national defense, and most major industries we rely upon for our livelihoods and daily lives. With a committed membership and a unified voice, I am confident we will be able to “punch above our weight class” and make a huge impact in the legislative and regulatory arenas.

We have recently stood up our first STI/SPFA Legislative Committee and have a group of 11 committed members willing to lead our efforts and guide our government affairs program. But we cannot just rely on these 11 members to tell our whole story, to reach the corners of the country to as many Members of Congress as possible with local touchpoints and stories. We need YOU to join in and tell YOUR story…to tell OUR story! Can we count on you to lend your voice and join our efforts?

Post Category

  • News Article

Topic

  • Advocacy

Published Date

February 12, 2024

Byline

Stephen Borg

Safety Products Purchasing Program