Advocacy is one of the pillars of the American Supply Association. When the association was founded more than 50 years ago, the need to advocate on behalf of the industry as a whole with a unified voice was paramount and the need remains today.

 But what does advocacy mean?

Advocacy at its core is support for a particular cause or policy. Taken a step further, it is the work required by each of us as citizens and members of the business community to have a voice in the regulations and legislation that impact our ability to create prosperity and participate in democracy. Engaging in our government at all levels — national, state and local — is truly a pillar.

But the work is daunting. Stepping foot in the hallowed halls of our government’s most storied buildings in our national’s capital can catch your breath with awe, but take your breath away with it’s magnitude. It can be easier to leave the work to the political junkies — they must love this! Government moves so slow anyway it’s not like we’re going to get anything done in 24 hours on the Hill. Plus, the rumor is we only get to meet with staffers, and those kids have no idea what we do every day.

Advocating on behalf of our businesses and the families that rely on those businesses is a cherished right we should exercise.

I suggest a different point of view for three reasons:

First, the meetings. ASA Vice President of Advocacy Steve Rossi sets every appointment for members and provides detailed instructions on how to run an appointment and even how to find the offices. We start the event at a detailed issues briefing with notes provided prior to the trip so you can review our industry positions. You walk into your representative’s office armed with facts but charged with simply talking about your business and the voters you represent as a business leader

Second, how Washington really works. Those staffers run this town. Each is assigned a specialization and is charged with being the resident expert for the legislator. They take meetings based on our issues and brief their congressperson accordingly. Follow up with our issues papers and an invitation to visit your business, if you’re so inclined. While it may appear that government moves slowly, we the people truly guide the path when we make our views and our impact known

Finally, there is a reason our school curriculum involves a trip to Washington, D.C. The country’s history literally unfolds before your eyes as you stroll the Mall, the Capitol, the Supreme Court, the Lincoln Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the Vietnam War Memorial — moments in our country’s history that defined our nation and our role as citizens.

It’s made even more poignant when you open any news app on your phone to see play out across the world a fight for the rights we have already won.

We have the right to participate in the legislative process openly and freely. Advocating on behalf of our businesses and the families that rely on those businesses is a cherished right we should exercise.

Next time the fly-in invitation comes to you, consider participating. Reach out to me if I can help. Contact Steve Rossi ( if you want more information or you’d like to host one of your congresspeople.

I remind you my challenge — in this moment for our industry show your representatives how powerful our industry is; show them our whole wide, exciting world.