ALEXANDRIA, VA., March 2, 2016 – The aggregates industry continually faces legislation in Congress that directly impacts the bottom lines and the operations of National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) member companies. Each year, NSSGA recognizes outstanding advocates for aggregates with Grassroots Awards that highlight their efforts to educate lawmakers on the value of the industry and legislation that can benefit operations around the country.
“Advocacy is Job No. 1 at NSSGA and we could not effectively educate Congress on the vital contributions of the aggregates industry to our economic success and quality of life, or the need for better infrastructure and the perils of overregulation without dedicated industry activists,” said Michael W. Johnson, NSSGA president and CEO. “We are glad to recognize the outstanding efforts of our industry advocates with these awards.”
Grasstops CEO of the Year
Ben Brock, of Astec Industries, will receive the 2016 Grasstops CEO of the Year award. He seized every opportunity to advance NSSGA’s legislative priorities throughout 2015, and his leadership and dedication are qualities that should serve as examples for aggregates advocates at any level. Brock spearheaded his own company’s advocacy efforts as well as those of the Astec family of companies, and he personally met with members of Congress and their staffs to advocate on behalf of the industry.
Grassroots Initiative of the Year
Astec Industries also will receive one of two Grassroots Initiative of the Year awards for the “Don’t Let America Dead End” campaign. The campaign goal was to keep up a constant drumbeat in 2015, urging members of Congress to pass a multi-year highway bill that increased funding for the system. Leaders of suppliers and customers of the Astec Industries family of companies were asked to use their influence to rally support for the highway bill. As a part of “Don’t Let America Dead End,” the company mailed out action kits that included a desktop reminder and postcards to share the message and encourage friends, family and employees to take action. “I Won’t Let America Dead End” lapel stickers were given to those who contacted Congress each month and special pens were made to write Congress. Astec’s effort and its accompanying website, www.dontletamericadeadend.com, generated tens of thousands of contacts to Congress which helped keep the pressure on lawmakers to pass a highway bill. This grassroots campaign followed Astec’s 2011 nationwide campaign, The Road Connection, which NSSGA helped sponsor and was also designed to move Congress to pass a new highway bill.
Oldcastle Materials will also receive a Grassroots Initiative of the Year award for their Texas Growth program. Throughout 2015, Oldcastle dramatically increased their political action committee contributions to state and local officials and hosted more than a dozen aggregates industry site visits with federal and state officials. Additionally, the company launched a Phone 2 Action tool that allowed employees to easily engage with elected officials via email and social media. Even after the first multi-year surface transportation authorization in a decade became a reality, their advocates understand the job is not done. So, Oldcastle shifted the focus of their Texas Growth campaign to a clear and concise message of “Thank You for the FAST Act – now we have 55 months to fix our funding problem.”
Grassroots Coordinator of the Year
Barrett Hardiman, of Luck Companies, will receive the 2016 Grassroots Coordinator of the Year award. Hardiman effectively coordinated Luck Stone’s grassroots advocates to rally support for the highway bill at critical points of the legislative process. By sending out action alerts, he rallied coworkers and colleagues to contact members of Congress to earn support for the bill as it moved through the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate and to the President’s desk for signature. He also made certain that grasstops advocates were used sparingly and in specific ways in order to maximize their impact with legislators.
Grassroots Advocate of the Year
Gene Weldon, of Lane Construction, will receive the Grassroots Advocate of the Year award. In addition to his professional responsibilities, Weldon led the Maine Aggregate Association and advocated for the industry nationwide. He educated government officials on the harmful consequences on operators of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the U.S. rule, and was a strong advocate for passing a multi-year highway bill during NSSGA’s D.C. Advocacy Day in September 2015.