Gilbride with his 12-year-old son, Danny, in D.C. for Legislative Day on the Hill.

This year marked the ASCA’s fifth Legislative Day on the Hill in Washington D.C. When we started the event, I begged snow contractors to join me on Capitol Hill and have their voices heard. That first year I convinced around 20 people to attend. We had an extremely successful day, a trend that has continued on to the present.

This year, we invited the North American Power Sweeping Association (NAPSA) to join us and they sent 19 members to our ranks. This year we had nearly 60 people registered for the event, and not one person left without appreciating the event’s overall value to our respective industries.

On a personal side, my oldest son, Danny, 12, joined me in D.C. Danny had been asking for a while to attend Day on the Hill, so the momentum started with him. My only stipulation was if he was going to attend, then he was going to work. Honestly, having Danny there was something I’d wanted for some time because I knew the educational value he would gain from it. I wanted him to learn firsthand how our government worked, and I wanted him to know that we all have a voice in it, we just have to use it.

We kicked things off late-afternoon Tuesday with the event’s conference. Danny and Snow Magazine’s Associated Publisher Dave Szy stuffed folders for the attendee packets, prepared the leave-behind materials for the next day, set up registration, and then worked the registration table as people arrived. Danny acted as my runner for the things I left behind in the hotel room, and then he attended both our legislative briefing, as well as our keynote speaker’s presentation.

The next day, we woke early to catch a bus to Capitol Hill. We had seven teams, each with appointments with Senate offices starting at 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. One every half hour. In these meetings, we presented our support for Senate Bill 237, the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act (LARA). This bill would ease the burden of frivolous slip-and-fall claims. We presented real stories of how these often baseless lawsuits impact your businesses, added statistics to insurance rates, and stressed the financial increases you have incurred over the years. We explained how passing LARA would benefit not only our industry, but all small businesses.

Danny kept up with us all day. I had sent an electronic version of each team’s schedule to everyone so they could pull it up on their phones. As we exited each meeting, Danny became our team coordinator. He would recite which appointment was next, the office building and floor number, and then lead us to our destination. He listened to virtually the same presentation in every meeting. He began to recognize the questions we would get, and even knew the appropriate responses.

Discussing strategy with Danny in between sessions with senators.

In each conference room there is a table with extra chairs against the wall. In the first few meetings, Danny went straight to the chairs against the wall and sat in the back. I would sit near the head of the table next to the person we were meeting with to run the meeting. Midway through the day, we walked into our next meeting and sat down. Sitting right next to me was my 12-year-old son. At some point in the day, he realized he, too, had a seat at the table. In the earlier meetings, I’m not certain he introduced himself as we went through introductions, but now seated at the table Danny introduced himself with confidence.

At day’s end, after all of the meetings, we were loitering around the hotel lobby waiting for our rides to the airport and rehashing the day’s events. I was talking to Mike Lucht, a power sweeping contractor, and I commented how proud I was Danny had been able to experience Legislative Day, what a great learning experience, and that I wanted him to understand how our government worked and know that he has a voice in it. Mike responded: “I learned the same thing … and I’m 60!”

In 2019, we need representation from every state in our industry. The greatest challenge with Legislative Day on the Hill is getting representation from each state. While our elected officials offer us an open door, they would prefer to meet with voters from their home state.

So, for the next year, my goal is to hammer home to the snow and ice management industry that whether you’re 12 or 60, you have a voice that must be heard.