Guest Blog: Demystify Government Legislators By Meeting Them

May 22, 2015

When I took over as president of the Illinois Automatic Merchandising Council (IAMC) in 2014, one of my first goals was to reestablish connections that had been lost between the vending industry and local government officials.

For over a decade we hadn’t visited the Illinois capital to meet with legislators. It was a shame. We had lost the relationships that allow our industry to shape laws that govern our state and industry.

In 2015, that would change. In early May, the IAMC visited Springfield, IL, and met with Tom Cullerton State Senator of the 23rd Legislative district. The best part for me was the fact that he was so welcoming and said, “What can I do for your fine people?”

We got to share with him why we were there and what the vending business meant to us. We left his office feeling very fulfilled and eager to come back again next year.

It would have been very difficult to do without the help of Eric Dell and Sheree Edwards of NAMA Government affairs. They sat down with Len Mahler and me when I became president to give support and share their knowledge of the IAMC and its past involvement with Springfield. We talked about goals and brainstormed ways to make a difference. It was a great meeting and I feel we have succeeded.

Invested in our industry

My father, Frank Saverino, has been part of the vending industry for over 50 years. I grew up in the industry. I believe we have some great opportunities ahead. Some of the greatest will come from micro markets, high quality coffee and the acceptance of credit cards in vending machines.

The opportunity for our vending state council is to invite area vending operators to join. The more we come together and reach out to legislators as one industry, one voice, the more we can accomplish. Legislators want to know about the industry, about our businesses. Building these relationships is so important because when a bill comes on the table and the IAMC calls they can discuss what can be done to get an unfavorable bill vetoed or favorable one passed. This is the goal, and meeting legislators is what will get us there.

When I began working in this industry, about 30 years ago, our industry was very connected in Springfield. We went there each year, held a cocktail party or other event that kept us in contact with legislators. So as president, I knew reestablishing the political connections was imperative. Continuing and strengthening those connections will be my goal going forward, as well as getting local vending companies to join “our community.” We might be competitors at times, but we are also part of the IAMC, the industry and we want to see it flourish. If we can’t come together what do we have? I for one want to see every operator, who eats, breathes and sleeps vending, step up and say “I want to make a different in OUR industry.”