There are many elements that go into running a business successfully, but one that can be overlooked is being engaged with the government on the local, state and federal level.
Keven Stratton, one of the founders of Stratton & Brätt Landscapes, says he has been lobbying for the landscape industry since he started his company in 1967. Generally, he dealt with local issues, rules and regulations.
“I realized if I’m going to be in business, I need to understand the language of business,” Stratton says.
Currently, he is a representative in the Utah House of Representatives.
“My personal philosophy is that we are greatly, greatly impacted at the local level, more so than the state level, secondary than the federal level, but they all impact us, and to be successful in business, you certainly have to be competent and capable in your specialization, but you need to recognize that we’re a part of an orchestra,” Stratton says.
Stratton says engaging with your elected officials is as critical for the strength and health of your business as food and water are for your physical health. He encourages other landscape professionals to form relationships with their representatives and become the specialist for the information they are seeking.
“A politician is a generalist,” Stratton says. “They know a little bit about a lot of things. The things that we’re dealing with in the landscape profession, whether it’s maintenance or construction, there’s just a host of things that they’re seeking to make decisions on that they have no clue of where the rubber hits the road.”
He says when communicating with your representatives a concise, heartfelt story is very powerful.
“Data is important,” Stratton says. “It’s a piece, it’s got to be supported. Facts are important. The relationship is the key but the story drives it home.”
Taking the time to participate in events like NALP’s Virtual Legislative Days from June 14-25 allows you to tell your stories as to how certain things like H-2B are impacting your business and why.
“They need to hear the problem, the story behind it and the solution,” Stratton says.
Stratton says there are many voices and agendas out there that are detrimental to the industry so it’s important to speak up to prevent certain bills from coming into law. For those who believe their voice isn’t necessary, Stratton says the best way for bad things to happen is for good people to do nothing.
“Your voice is needed,” Stratton says. “You don’t know how powerful and important your voice is. If you’re not doing it, a vacuum is created and someone else that is not as good at doing it will fill that space.”
Two of the major topics that will be focused on at this year’s Legislative Days are H-2B cap relief and reform, and climate change. Stratton says we need to unite our voices to see true H-2B reform.
“None of us are an island, we’re in this together and we’ve got to make sure the benefit of our expertise and our perspective is heard,” Stratton says.”
While this year’s event is not in person like normal, this isn’t a reason to write it off. Stratton says he loves virtual and that most of the politicians love it as well.
“Don’t discount virtual,” Stratton says. “It’s all we’ve got. With the virtual meeting, participate and then follow up with a personal touch in building those relationships.”
The registration deadline for the Virtual Legislative Days is on May 28. This event is free and sponsored by FMC and Vermeer. Be sure to register and take advantage of this unique opportunity for you to easily advocate for the industry during an incredibly important time.