Chris Colditz, co-owner of Laco Mechanical Services, said it is important to establish a good rapport with your legislator.
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. — “We don’t want anyone else telling us our business because we know it best.” That’s the message that Chris Colditz used to open her ACCA meeting seminar. The co-owner of Laco Mechanical Services of Palatine, Ill., titled her seminar “How to Affect Change in State Politics.” She has plenty of credentials to talk about politics.

Colditz is the chairman of the board of ACCA’s Northern Illinois chapter. During her term, the chapter has started a “long process of becoming proactive in state politics.”

Colditz said that politics is a “big part of our industry” and that HVACR contractors and their representatives should ensure that “no rule of law that affects an HVACR business is written until we request it or approve it.”

She said it is very important that contractors have a voice in their state legislatures — namely a well-qualified lobbyist.

“The right lobbyist can make or break a deal,” Colditz noted. She said that when you “hit a wall,” the lobbyist should be able to get you around the obstacle.

“Look at the background of your lobbyist,” she said. “He should be honest and respected — and have many contacts with officials.”

Check Yourself

Colditz said that if contractors decide to visit their legislators to discuss an issue affecting their business, there are several checklist items of which they should be aware:

  • Bring lots of company and chapter business cards.

  • Have a list of talking points.

  • Have a visual identification. “Your attire should speak contractor,” Colditz added.

  • Give out “user-friendly leave behinds.”

    She said it is important to establish a good rapport with your legislator and be concise. “What do you want from me so I can understand what I can do for you? That should be made clear to the legislator,” Colditz said.

    She added some important points about visiting with legislators:

    1. Try and make one trip per legislative session.

    2. Don’t sabotage your lobbyist by “deviating from your plan.”

    3. Allow your lobbyist to coach you on the legislators.

    4. Be on time for your meeting with legislators.

    5. Present your business card to the secretary and to the legislator — and pick up the secretary’s card, too.

    6. Tell the legislator your agenda.

    Once you have returned from your meeting, Colditz said it is important to “communicate all successes to chapter members.”

    She also advised meeting attendees that it is important to give equal attention to both political parties, adding, “Don’t let party politics cloud your vision.”

    Sidebar: The Ten Commandments Of Lobbying

    Chris Colditz said there are “Ten Commandments” to successful lobbying:

    1. Know your facts.

    2. Know your opposition.

    3. Correct errors immediately.

    4. Plan, coordinate, and follow up.

    5. Avoid zealotry.

    6. Cultivate your allies.

    7. Know the legislative process.

    8. Watch your money.

    9. Grow thick skin.

    10. Win!

    Publication date: 05/26/2003