Advocacy at NAFEM: At work for members

NAFEM President Kevin Fink, CFSP, and Technical Liaison Committee (TLC) Chair Bill Sickles, P.E., tell us about NAFEM’s advocacy work, how it supports members, and the important role members play in successful advocacy efforts.

Editor: We’ve been hearing a lot more about advocacy in the past couple of years. Why is this topic important to NAFEM members?

Kevin: “The regulatory burden on our members has increased significantly in the last several years. Our industry is facing a rapidly changing regulatory environment, especially as it relates to the Department of Energy (DOE), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other regulatory bodies. NAFEM is focused on helping members keep pace with these changes. That effort includes helping them understand what changes are proposed, how they might be impacted, and what they need to do to help secure favorable regulatory and/or legislative outcomes.”

Bill: “Every NAFEM member is impacted by some sort of government regulation, whether it’s BPA in smallwares, energy emissions on the hot side or refrigerants on the cold side. It’s difficult for members to know everything that is pending on the regulatory or legislative docket. Given the increasing speed of change, and the escalating number of proposed, new or revised rules and regulations, NAFEM is playing a larger role in representing members’ interests and making them aware of proposed and final changes in the compliance landscape.”

Editor: How does this work align with that of the Technical Liaison Committee (TLC)?

Bill: “NAFEM’s TLC helps provide the information the organization needs to understand how and if proposed rules and regulations will impact our members. The association needs this technical information to successfully advance our industry’s perspective and inform elected and appointed decisionmakers. This is especially important for the majority of NAFEM members who don’t have in-house government relations teams. It’s also important because there is strength in numbers. We need to demonstrate and articulate collective impacts so the folks drafting regulations/legislation have visibility to the true impact of their actions on our industry.”

Editor: What differences will NAFEM members see in the advocacy area in 2018?

Kevin: “Our members have told us they need more information. Through this new monthly e-newsletter, the NAFEM online newsletter, and other communication, NAFEM members will have more timely information regarding new laws being considered in the regulatory or legislative arenas that ultimately may impact our businesses. The board of directors has prioritized advocacy engagement as a key strategic objective of NAFEM going forward and has focused more of the organization’s resources on this work. Members also will see NAFEM reaching out more to ask for involvement in the association’s advocacy initiatives. Members should look for an increase in the number of partnerships with other associations or stakeholders that NAFEM undertakes to make certain our members’ interests are advanced. We won’t always “win,” but we’re becoming much better at participating in important discussions and leveraging other relationships, such as the Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, to engage with agencies before rules that impact our industry are finalized.”

Editor: What role should NAFEM members expect to play in the organization’s advocacy efforts?

Bill: “I encourage NAFEM members to get involved, regardless of their past experience or any apprehensions. Only they can make the case for positive change. I know from experience that it can be time-consuming and even intimidating to sit in a room with regulators. I also know that doing so can have a huge impact on how your company performs in the future. I look at advocacy work in the same way I look at working toward landing a large contract. It takes time, but is well worth it in the end. And, broader engagement means more input and ideas, and ultimately better solutions.”

Kevin: “As an industry, we can’t be successful without NAFEM members’ involvement. They are the experts on how proposed changes will impact their ability to operate and succeed as employers. Their input and information is mission-critical if we are to advocate for rules and regulations that support the long-term success of our companies and our industry. I’m confident we can count on our members to respond when we seek their data, help us by participating in critical meetings with elected and appointed officials, and do all they can to help us make a strong case on their behalf.”