WASHINGTON, DC — The Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA) recognized two California contractors for their exceptional legislative contributions at its annual legislative awards dinner, held here recently.

Named Legislative Contractor of the Year was James Asbury of Bell Products Inc., Napa, CA. Recognized as the Chapter Executive Legislative Advocate of the Year was Gary Schwenk, executive vice president of the Bay Area Association of SMACNA Chapters.

SMACNA’s legislative committee chairman John Ilten had nothing but good words to say about Asbury, a member of the Congressional Insiders Club for more than 20 years.

“When we talk about bringing our Campaign for Quality Contracting to the Hill, this contractor is one who began doing that many years ago, demonstrating exceptional effort and unsurpassed leadership in legislative action before we started giving awards,” said Ilten. “He gets personally involved in political campaigns, not just finding Congressional candidates for the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Political Action Committee [SMAC PAC] to support and building on those relationships, but also supports local candidates as well.”

Asbury was one of SMAC PAC’s original supporters. He has been adamant that SMAC PAC wasn’t just supporting those in power because they were in power. He wanted to know the PAC was doing what was right for the construction industry.

Asbury is currently president of the Bay Area Association of SMACNA chapters and is active locally in civic and political endeavors. He was honored by the Napa Valley Chamber of Commerce as their 1999 Citizen of the Year.

An active supporter of SMACNA programs, Asbury serves as an SFUA Article X management panelist and a member of the Change Order Task Force.

In regards to Schwenk, Ilten commented that “No one has done more to develop and energize his chapter members into action.

“Driving home the importance of legislative activity, he brings both national and state legislative staff to his board meetings and chapter meetings to talk about the legislative agenda at both levels,” said Ilten. “He works aggressively to increase chapter member participation at the Construction Alliance National Issues Conference.

“He also encourages chapter members to participate in the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Political Action Committee (SMAC PAC). He has generated an impressive number of new Congressional Insiders Club members and spouses in a very short time.”

Schwenk invigorated SMAC PAC’s convention event through the chapter’s multiple auction donations and prizes. By pledging to match each dollar donated to SMAC PAC by chapter members with a chapter contribution to SMAC PAC’s Administrative Fund, the Bay Area chapter almost tripled its donations to SMAC PAC from the year before.

An active participant on SMACNA committees, Schwenk currently is a member of the Convention Sponsorship Task Force. He is a member of SMACNA’s College of Fellows and served on the Chapter Education Program Task Force.

To qualify for Chapter Executive Legislative Advocate of the Year, candidates must actively lead in both political and legislative chapter affairs, maintain effective contacts with local, state, and national leaders, and motivate members to act on behalf of the SMAC PAC and SMACNA through fundraising and financial support.

Publication date: 05/13/2002