Greetings from Washington, D.C., where the American Supply Association and Plumbing Manufacturers International have come together to host a combined legislative fly-in.

Some 40 ASA-member wholesale distributors and vendors and PMI members are here to speak with their members of Congress on a variety of different industry issues.

Prior to the congressional visits that are occurring today, ASA and PMI held a briefing program Wednesday at the Grand Hyatt Washington to bring participants up to speed on critical issues that will be discussed on the Hill today.

Featured speakers

Featured speakers at the briefing included Randi Reid (Kountoupes/Denham Consulting) on marketplace fairness (a huge topic of discussion in the wholesale distribution industry right now), William Kovacs (senior VP, environment, technology & regulatory affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce) on regulatory reform and Dorothy Coleman (VP of tax and domestic economic policy at the National Association of Manufacturers) on tax reform.

PMI CEO Executive/Director Barbara Higgens also provided an informative briefing on the importance of retrofits in the marketplace.
“We have estimates that replacing pre-1992 products saves $3 billion gallons of water per day,” she said. “That’s vetted by the EPA and they say that’s a conservative estimate. We advocate getting old and inefficient products out of the field. There is a tremendous savings involved.”
Higgens also cited another statistic where only 5% of the market has transitioned to WaterSense-sanctioned products. “There is a tremendous potential to sell these products,” she added.

Networking session and dinner

The day was capped by a networking session and dinner at the City Club of Washington where David Wasserman, the house editor of The Cook Political Report, gave a humorous, but statistically-informed analysis of the presidential, senate, house and gubernatorial races.

Wasserman displayed his impressive top-to-bottom knowledge of political races throughout the country. Attendees asked Wasserman about their particular local races and he didn’t miss a beat in providing each inquirer with a comprehensive analysis of their particular race. Wasserman also provided attendees with an interesting take on the political relevancy of counties that have Whole Foods and Cracker Barrel establishments in their municipalities and how that relates to the presidential election.

Wasserman noted when President Obama won election in 2008, 80% of counties he won had Whole Foods stores in them, opposed to 36% of counties that had a Cracker Barrel. In 2012, 77% of counties Obama won had Whole Foods stores in them, while 29% had Cracker Barrels.

In 1992, when Bill Clinton won the presidency, 60% of counties he won had Whole Foods and 40% had Cracker Barrels.
Another interesting tidbit from Wasserman: Vigo County in Indiana has voted for every presidential winner dating back to 1956.

We’ll be back tomorrow with Part 2, a wrap-up from a day of Hill meetings.