At the National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA), there are three regional offices serving the interests of waste service companies. NSWMA's regional managers are professional trade association executives who advocate for waste companies through:
They inform members about industry happenings. Regional managers also notify the press about what waste companies do and how and why the industry operates the way it does. Managers inform regulators, local officials and legislators about industry needs, as well as the realities and the effects proposed legislation or new ideas may have on the waste industry. This also includes information about what happens if no action is taken.
Managers watch, observe and network. They track developments that have the potential to affect members' businesses and the industry. This network has been developed over the years by association leaders, executives and the targeted application of the industry's wealth. This past effort continues to position NSWMA well to track developments, monitor them and respond when necessary.
Regional managers learn from waste company executives, owners and operators. They learn from government officials, including members of boards of health, state legislative committee members, departmental regulators, and state, local and regional elected and appointed officials. New issues arise; old issues re-emerge, molt and sometimes take us in new directions. The waste industry is not the same as it was 15 years ago, and it will not remain the same 15 years from now. Change is truly a guaranteed constant, so regional NSWMA managers must keep learning to effectively serve the industry.
Regional managers have formed relationships with elected officials and lobby them whenever possible. As a practical matter, they also know many regulators and have been able to build solid professional relationships with them over the years. Quite often, managers work with other lobbyists who are influential and knowledgeable. These lobbyists know not only the legislators but also about behind-the-scenes action as well — who is working on specific issues; state house and city hall chamber politics; and agency, department, and front office politics and procedures. However, these lobbyists often do not know the waste industry, its players and the nuanced realities of being in the waste services business. This is where the NSWMA regional managers come in. They bring to the equation knowledge of the entire industry so big and small operators, public and private companies, haulers and facility operators will each have a voice.
- Working with industry leaders
This means that regional managers work with people in the industry who are in charge of profit and loss sheets or for the profitability of their stand-alone private companies. Sometimes, these individuals bring something up for consideration or respond with vigor to initiatives floated by regional managers. Industry financial leaders spend a great amount of time to give NSWMA direction.
Regional managers build and work with broad or narrowly based coalitions of members, nonmembers, other business groups, municipalities, regulators, bureaucrats and elected officials. This work is informative and very often fruitful for the industry. These groups have fluid dynamics, are ever-changing and are a professional challenge to keep up with and manage.
- Working with senior association executives
Regional managers are always seeking guidance, input, staying connected, and receiving and sometimes giving support, counsel, and direction from and to senior executives at NSWMA headquarters in Washington, D.C. Regional managers are fortunate to be on a great team of seasoned trade association professionals who advocate for the industry similar to how on-going efforts take place in the regions.
Steve Changaris is the National Solid Waste Management Association's Northeast regional manager and can be reached by calling toll-free (800) 679-6263. E-mail: [email protected].