Aggregates Manager Digital Magazine
Issue link: http://read.dmtmag.com/i/248272
TAKE FIVE in many cases do, belong to, in addition to NSSGA. However, they overwhelmingly see NSSGA as the most valuable trade association for their business interests. As for concerns, nothing in particular jumped out as alarming. The survey asked about priorities and, not surprisingly, reauthorization of a long-term highway bill, the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund, and fighting for more effective, balanced regulation in the areas of safety, health, and the environment topped the list. Respondents were also asked to assess the effectiveness of NSSGA on these issues and a number of other core activities of the association. The responses were instructive. While the association is focused on the right things and generally doing a good job, there is room for improvement. Bottom line: NSSGA membership is of high value, and we have an opportunity to, borrowing a line from Jim Collins, move from "Good to Great" in delivering on that value proposition. The really good news is that the new three-year strategic plan we are developing right now will position us to do exactly that. Q. Now that you've had a little time to get your steeltoed boots broken in, what top priorities have you identified for the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA)? You know, steel toes are one of the things that my professional past and my future have in common. While rocks may be harder and heavier, a pallet of cases or a keg can do pretty good damage to a foot, too. My boots were already broken in pretty well on day one. As for priorities, I made reference to the new three-year strategic plan that we are working on right now. I am a big believer in the need to plan your work…and work your plan. Putting us in a position to do both, based upon what we learned in the membership survey, is where I am focusing first. The process we are engaged in, with Harrison Coerver — a well-known and highly respected planning consultant who has been part of developing more than 1,200 association strategic plans — will produce a member-focused, priority-driven plan that will chart an aggressive course from good to great for NSSGA. I am excited about sharing the plan with the membership at our upcoming Annual Convention, March 3-6, in Las Vegas. However, we know that there are some ongoing priorities that we must continue to address while we work on the new plan. With the expiration of MAP-21 in September of this year and dependence upon a funding mechanism that will be insolvent in 2015, the stakes are high. We are continuing to aggressively A. 18 AGGREGATES MANAGER February 2014 advocate for a new long-term highway bill and a solution to the solvency issues surrounding the Highway Trust Fund. At the same time, we will continue to push back against unreasonable actions and unwise proposals by federal regulatory agencies. We will keep working to facilitate a better dialogue with our regulators. However, when that is not enough, we will also push for greater congressional oversight and not be afraid to engage in litigation when we have to protect our members' ability to do business responsibly. Q. Getting anything done in Washington, D.C., is a challenge these days. How will NSSGA, under your leadership, navigate the partisan political atmosphere? No doubt about it...the situation in Washington is challenging, to put it politely. Frankly, the past few years have been the worst that I have experienced in more than 20-plus years of working in this town. The President and Congress have lurched from man-made crisis to man-made crisis — the debt ceiling, the fiscal cliff, to the sequester, and ultimately a government shutdown; and the brink of a debt ceiling default all over again. Absolute disaster has been avoided only by last-minute "deals" that are crafted to prevent the worst case and kick the can down the road rather than any concern for sound policy and real solutions. Unfortunately, it is too simplistic to blame pure partisanship, while it is about as bad as it has ever been, as the underlying cause is actually even more complicated and harder to address. Whether it was Reagan and the House Democrats or Clinton and the House Republicans, pure partisan differences have historically been overcome by cooler heads prevailing and moderates coming together to make progress on matters of national importance. The current situation is even worse because current electoral politics have resulted in fewer moderates on either side of the aisle, and the parties have moved more toward their respective bases, making the incentive to find compromise even less. This has especially been a problem for Republicans who are literally in the midst of a civil war of sorts for control of their party. All that said, and it's plenty, there have been some bright spots recently, including one directly related to infrastructure investment, that give us reason for some optimism. The recent passage of the NSSGA-supported water resources (WRRDA) legislation followed by approval of the end of the year budget deal by broad bipartisan margins and, maybe more importantly, broad margins within each party in each chamber shows that there still is a path forward on issues deemed to be of high national importance. A.