The first order of business as I begin my journey as NUCA Chairman of the Board is to thank our outgoing Chairwoman, Kara Habrock. Kara has been an extremely effective NUCA leader and is highly respected and admired by the entire Board of Directors. Her passion for this association is contagious, and I hope I can be at least half as supportive and passionate as she is. The good news for NUCA is that she will remain on the Executive Committee in the role of Immediate Past Chairwoman. Kara has been a great mentor to me, and I am sure she will continue to provide wise guidance as I move into this new territory.
Did you watch or listen to President Trump’s State of the Union Address last month? I must admit I was cheering about the president’s policy priorities. I think it was music to all of our ears as he discussed his proposed $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan. He also discussed the need for vocational training, which NUCA has been putting its resources toward for more than four years. It was as if our lobbyist Will Brown had written the president’s talking points. I was very pleased to hear President Trump take the lead to make educating a skilled workforce a national priority.
I heard one commentator say something that clicked with me. He said, “You know, our president is a contractor at heart.” He has been involved in construction and building infrastructure of some type his whole life. Now he wants to build a fence, fix our roads, airports, waterlines, etc. He recognizes the need for a skilled workforce to install all this new infrastructure, and knows that re-building America’s infrastructure will create jobs and continue to boost the economy. You know, he sounds a lot like NUCA! I think we need to sign him up as a new member!
All of this is good news, but it will take some heavy lifting to ensure Congress enacts even a small piece of this agenda. This is, after all, the place known as the swamp, and I’m not talking about Gainesville. So, my fellow NUCA members, what are you willing to do to make this happen?
Here are a few suggestions on how we can help our fellow White House contractor accomplish some of his agenda.
Recruit a new member. I still remember the day Doug Suzuki convinced my company to join the local chapter. It took several conversations to convince us to join. Don’t be discouraged if your recruit does not join right away. Keep the conversation going, and invite them to a meeting. Eventually they will see the value in becoming a member.
Join a committee or volunteer to take a position on the Board. You are probably thinking— “I am too busy to participate. It takes a lot of time.” We are all busy; however, in reality, it usually only requires a few hours a month. We can all find a few hours a month. Participation will not only help your company and industry, but you will meet some really great people and make some new friends.
Get involved with NUCA/PAC: Learn about the federal candidates who help our industry and why and how we support them. We only contribute to candidates who support our issues. If we can find a congressional lawmaker in our camp, it is powerful to get our lobbyist and member constituent to meet and discuss our issues with that candidate. When we get in front of someone who is completely clueless about our issues, we have a good chance to educate them—and yes, a lot of congressional lawmakers need education, which brings me to my final and very important suggestion.
Come to D.C. in May for the Washington Summit – You need to experience this at least once. NUCA will prepare you and provide you materials you need so you can talk to your federal representatives with confidence. Even if you decide to come alone, NUCA will team you with experienced attendees, who will accompany you to meetings and lead you through “maze” of tunnels between the House and Senate offices. One year, I was an honorary Hawaiian and joined the NUCA of Hawaii ED, Sheryl Matsuoka, on her visits. Mahalo Sheryl.
Now is the time to take advantage of the opportunities that lie before us. We must strike while the iron is hot. If we don’t get involved during this critical congressional session, we will be kicking ourselves next year when Pelosi and Schumer are back in charge and progress has come to a screeching halt. Just take the first step, recruit a new member, join a committee or the Board, or come to the Summit. Get involved and who knows, in a few years, I may have the pleasure of reading your first Chairman’s Message.
NUCA Chairman of the Board