Duro-Last was privileged to sponsor the Burger King Franchisee Association’s Annual Summit meeting September 13-15 in Washington, DC. It was exciting and truly an honor for me to go to Capitol Hill to lobby side-by-side with small businesses.
Restaurants and organizations such as the Burger King Franchisee Association are an important group of customers for Duro-Last. We sell a lot of roofing systems to these businesses, and it’s in our best interest to help them remain viable. These are challenging times for many, who are wrestling with tax and health care issues that could have a profound effect on their business operations.
We met early on Tuesday morning over breakfast in the Hyatt Regency ballroom. A group of 400 franchisees and vendors from all over the United States prepared for afternoon meetings with senators and representatives. Keynote speaker Newt Gingrich briefed us on the upcoming 2010 mid-term elections. The general session included speakers Katie Hays and Caroline Harris from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Susan Eckerly from the National Federation of Independent Businesses, and Brendan Flanagan from the National Restaurant Association, all of whom are involved in lobbying and voicing the needs of small business. They briefed us on relevant bills in Congress and reviewed with us how to lobby effectively while on Capitol Hill.
Senator John McCain was a surprise guest, and his lunchtime presentation included a question and answer session. It was very exciting and we all were pumped to go.
I was teamed with eight Indiana business owners, and we had appointments to visit the offices of Senators Dick Lugar and Evan Bayh, and Representatives Dan Burton and Joe Donnelly. They were not available, but we were able to meet with their legislative assistants. The lobbying was fun and challenging to say the least, especially with those who did not see eye-to-eye with our positions on the bills.
Washington is full of surprises. After going through security and getting into the Capitol building, we were directed down the marble staircase to the basement, where there was a trolley system to take us to different parts of the Capitol complex. There were restaurants and little shops down there as well. We were escorted by rail from the Hart building to the Russell, then to the Rayburn, and ended up in the Longworth building. All we had to do was get on the right elevator and figure out which floor to choose. Who would have thought you could do all that from the basement! Can you tell I’m from the country?
Our evening back at the hotel included an extravagant dinner and remarks from Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. What a live wire she is! Keep your eye on her over the next few years. The highlight of the evening was an appearance by Barack Obama – actually, impressionist and comedian Steve Bridges. He had the crowd roaring with laughter.
All in all, it was an incredibly rewarding experience and an honor, on behalf of Duro-Last, to stand up for the small businesses of America.