The Florida Messenger Association (FMA) held their first annual Lobby Day on Thursday, April 15, 2010. The event began on Wednesday night with a dinner meeting where Tim Giuliani, the Director of Corporate Outreach and Development for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, addressed the group. He shared insight regarding current pending issues in Tallahassee, as well as protocol for meeting with legislators and their staff. Harold Boyett, of Blue Streak Couriers, presented talking points followed by a Question and Answer session for the participants. John Benko, of Manko Delivery Systems, Inc. and Boyett conducted a role play to demonstrate a typical conversation with the office of a legislator.
The group was honored with a visit from Sandra Adams, State Representative from District 33, covering parts of Orange, Seminole, Volusia and Brevard Counties. She complimented the group for taking the initiative to conduct a Lobby Day. Representative Adams said, “It is great to see how well informed and proactive your group is with regard to the impact of legislation on your businesses.” She then commented, “The government does not create wealth, businesses do. Your group should be commended for your efforts.”
Representative Adams is a pro-business legislator who reads every bill before she votes on it and is committed to the success of businesses in her district. She asked the group to keep her informed of any pending legislation which could potentially impact the same-day delivery industry. She ended the visit by thanking everyone for the opportunity to address the group.
Knowing the state of Florida has numerous statutes in place providing clear direction for the same-day delivery industry, the primary objective for Lobby Day was to reinforce those guidelines and to create awareness of the impact of the industry on Florida’s economy. FMA’s group of sixteen attendees divided into five smaller groups which met with legislators from their area of the state.
The north Florida group consisted of Christie Morgan of Blue Streak Couriers in Tallahassee, John Ellison of Stealth Courier in Tallahassee, Tim Petty of Pettyco Express in Jacksonville, and Harold Boyett of Blue Streak Couriers in Jacksonville.
The Tampa group consisted of John Benko of Manko Delivery Service, Inc., John Amato of N-E-Where Transport Inc., and Robert Barnard of Bush Truck Leasing.
The first south Florida group consisted of Larry Schwartz of Baron Messenger Service in Miami, Steve Seltzer of Comet Delivery Services in Miami, and Rose Thomashow of Express Messenger Service in Boca Raton.
The second south Florida group consisted of Paul Bravo of South Florida Express Bankserv, Toni Pompa of TriCounty Courier Inc. in Fort Lauderdale, Andre Stewart of TriCounty Courier Inc. in Fort Lauderdale, and Steve Howard of Esquire Express in Miami.
The Orlando group consisted of Brian McKenzie of Alpha Logistics Service and Lance Dearborn of Air Traffic Services.
A total of 44 appointments were made in advance of Lobby Day. While some of the visits were conducted with the Member’s senior staff, most were conducted directly with the Senator or Representative. By all accounts, the FMA delegation was met with open arms. A common theme was a curiosity to learn more about our industry. Marti Coley, the Representative from District 7, covering several counties in the Florida panhandle said, “I thought you were the people delivering envelopes downtown on bicycles.” Nearly all meetings had an element of education regarding the same-day delivery industry. The legislators and their staffs were inquisitive about the different types of services provided by messenger and courier companies, and were very impressed with the effort put forth by the members. Several legislators offered advice on which elected officials could help us most, based on the committees which potentially impact the industry.
The capstone appointment was the 45th visit conducted with Kathy Mears, the Deputy Chief-of-Staff for Governor Charlie Christ. John Benko, Larry Schwartz, Lance Dearborn, and Brian McKenzie were led by Harold Boyett in their visit with the Governor’s office. Ms. Mears was appreciative of the visit from the group and complimented their efforts. She inquired to learn more about the FMA perspective of the same-day delivery industry, as she was already very informed on the topic. Ms. Mears said, “The Governor is an advocate for the business community, and your group should be applauded for showing the initiative to come to Tallahassee to meet with your elected officials.”
Every appointment concluded with an invitation for the elected official to speak at a future FMA meeting and to take a tour of a facility of an FMA member. A point-of-contact for maintaining the schedule of the elected official was obtained for the purpose of scheduling future visits and speaking engagements. Representative Martin Kiar, district 97, representing parts of Broward County, is very interested in speaking at the next FMA meeting in south Florida in the fall.
Since several of the state legislators are running for U.S. Congress positions, a potential by-product of Lobby Day is that relationships developed could extend to a national level. In fact, one group of FMA members met with the office of Ted Deutch, former State Senator from District 30, covering parts of Broward and Palm Beach County. Deutch was recently elected to fill the position for U.S. Congressional District 20 seat which was recently vacated by Congressman Robert Wexler.
After all meetings were completed, a debriefing was conducted and suffice to say, the experience was enjoyed by all attendees. Following are several quotes from FMA members:
Lance Dearborn: “The FMA Lobby Day was a great opportunity to meet our local representatives. These are the Senators and Representatives who live in our neighborhoods, shop at the same stores, and know the same people. The opportunity to meet with them and discuss important issues in our industry was a great experience for me.”
Brian McKenzie: “I was impressed by the cooperation and willingness of most of the people we met with to give us their time to listen to what we had to say.”
Steve Howard: “I have never participated in a Lobby Day before so I did not know what to expect. I was surprised at how accessible our lawmakers are. It was very encouraging to see that they were very receptive about our association coming to Tallahassee to inform them about our industry at the very least, we now have contacts in Tallahassee with whom we can have an open dialogue.”
The FMA Membership recognizes Larry Schwartz, President of the FMA, and John Ferraro, Director of Government Affairs for the MCAA for organizing the incredibly successful event. It could not have been made possible without their efforts.