The Power of Involvement

Hey, why didn’t I see you at the Broadmoor in late October? NLBMDA held its annual pro dealer industry summit there in Colorado Springs, and I will tell you that it was worth the financial cost and the cost of my valuable time. I even missed my 6th grade son’s last football game of the season and still say it was worth my time. (Note: I’m from Texas. Football is sort of a big deal.)

Because you are reading this magazine, I know that you are engaged in the lumber industry. You are hungry for information and education that is related to our unique world. While the act of buying and selling building materials today is not terribly different from the way that our grandfathers did it, almost all the other factors of running our businesses have changed…and continue to do so, almost daily.

If you are like me, you have so many plates in the air that it feels like an accomplishment to make it through the day with nothing crashing down. Not an ideal situation but reality, for many. When this is the case, how do you keep up with the latest and greatest regulations that the EPA has dreamt up? How do you feel confident that you are in full OSHA compliance? How do you plan for the changes that the Department of Labor is implementing?

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I’ve sat at roundtables, seminars, and panel discussions, and enviously listened to my peers who have HR teams, safety coordinators, compliance experts, culture gurus, payroll departments, fleet management staff, IT departments, and cleaning crews. (It’s true! Not all presidents of companies have bathroom duty!) If your company is more like my company, you wear many of these hats.

Without involvement and engagement in a regional trade association and NLBMDA, I just don’t know how any company can truly be on top of its game. While you may very well be growing and turning a profit, could you be even bigger and better? While you might not have suffered any consequences of federal regulations (yet), you may very well be in the dark and not even know what rules you are breaking. While things are coasting along pretty well at your operation, do you realize that you are riding on the coattails of a handful of dealers who are making that possible by the hard work that is done in Washington D.C. with NLBMDA?

Fortunately, my father believed in trade associations and service groups. He allowed me to be very active in the Lumbermen’s Association of Texas and Louisiana (LAT), and the National Lumber & Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA), starting when I was pretty green. I jumped right in and started learning, immediately. And I’m glad that I did. There were (and are) so many issues and regulations that affect our industry, and I just had no idea. From my experience, the best way to learn is to invest the time and funds and start attending industry events.

Immersion in these groups opened my eyes to the many moving parts that can make or break a lumber dealer. It took my head out of the sand and made me eager to do something. Besides serving as the chair of these two groups, I’ve been active working on committees and leading a few. Doing so really brings me up to speed on industry issues and gives me access to some real experts and just some really fine people. Additionally, my activities on behalf of LAT and NLBMDA motivated me to get to know my state and national representatives and get on a first name basis with many of them. (By the way, did you know that they put their pants on one leg at a time…just like you?!)