A couple of weeks ago while visiting with Bob Asdal, the Executive Director of the Hydraulic Institute (HI), at the Europump meeting in Scotland, he talked me into joining the HI delegation and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Manufacturers’ Summit in Washington, DC, June 10th and 11th. I took him up on his suggestion and joined a great HI delegation.
What was the reason for our visit? The Department of Energy is in the process of writing regulations for the U.S. pump industry. Specifically, these proposals require labels to display pump efficiencies, and they eliminate the bottom tier of the least efficient pumps. HI has been actively educating and engaging DOE and other stakeholders in protecting the interest of all North American pump manufacturers and their customers. While I have not been involved in the numerous meetings conducted over the last several years, as a former board member, I felt it important to attend.
I am really happy I did. I joined Greg Towsley with Grundfos, Mark Bredeson with Wilo, Mark Handzell with Xylem, Mark Kreinbihl with Gorman Rupp, Mark Sullivan with HI, Rob Boteler with Nidec Motors, John White with TACO, and Jeremy Frank with KCF Technologies. Considering we are all lobbying neophytes, I think we did a good job explaining the industry’s concerns to DOE committee staff in both the Senate and the House.
After our trip to the Hill, we returned to the hotel to hear Vice President Joe Biden speak to NAM. He delivered a good speech which was well received by the audience. The administration’s objectives align with those of NAM. The problem lies in a difference in opinion about how to achieve those objectives.
My takeaways from my first lobbying trip to Washington:
▪ NAM doesn’t like to be called NAM. It likes to be called N–A–M.
▪ Washington overflows with BIG office buildings staffed by a lot of young kids. It’s a young city. It scares me to think of the payroll costs associated with keeping all these youngsters in miles and miles of offices. It also scares me when I realize these smart young kids who know nothing about the pump industry intend to regulate it. The industry needs to stay engaged to protect its interests. Please get involved.
▪ Zaytinya is a great place to eat, but a poor place to meet if you are older than 35. They sat us in a back parabolic corner that focused the entire restaurant’s noise on our table. I knew we had a problem when the waitress asked if I would like some wine and I thought she said, “Do you know the time?” I told her 7:30 and she smiled politely and walked away. I am sure she was thinking, “What a loser.” I should have known when I first saw their menu online that this place was way too cool for me. “Food is about making and interacting with ingredients.” Really? I am out of here.
▪ Mark Handzell orders Lebanese and Greek food really well, but don’t ask him to predict the weather. It wasn’t more than 10 minutes after he assured us there was no rain in the forecast and no need to bring umbrellas that it started pouring.
▪ John White is the flashiest dresser of us all, but he is Uber-deficient (San Francisco-based Uber features a mobile app that allows smart phone users to order rides from local drivers who qualify under Uber’s criteria). He told us a story of how he recently ordered a ride on Uber. A driver pulled up and asked, “Are you Jonathon?” “Yeah, I’m John, let’s go.” He hopped in and they sped off. In five minutes, the driver got a call. The driver then asks John: “Hey Jonathon, are you calling me from the back seat?” John responds, “No?” Houston, we’ve got a problem.
▪ I will never forget the priceless vision of our taxi ride to The Hill with Bredeson and White in the back seat with me. A “Black Ice” air freshener dangled from John’s window and gently touched his forehead. Bredeson commented on how nice White smelled today. I can just see the commercial for this.
▪ I used Uber for the first time getting from the hotel to the train station. Give it a try. I highly recommend it. It’s a bit frightening the first time you use it, but it is easy.
▪ The Hydraulic Institute is doing a marvelous job in representing its members. Any pump company based in North America or selling pumps into North America is eligible for membership. The DOE is moving down the path of regulation and these new rules will most likely effect your company. The best way to protect your company’s interest is to get involved. Go to: www.pumps.org.
Until next time.