Michael Makin Q&A -- PIA's Future PlansMay 2003
Of course, we certainly have a lot of anecdotal information in that regard. Our job is to develop the empirical information our members can use to support that—allowing them to go to their customers and prove that print is a winning proposition and that direct mail is not only a viable, but preferable, media choice. By combining our technical and economic research, we're a great source of educational information for our members.
PI: You mentioned your recent member-needs analysis. What are some other key issues that you're tackling based on the recommendations of your membership?
Makin: In response to that analysis, we're doing a lot on the government affairs side. Here, PIA/GATF was instrumental in helping overturn the ergonomic standards bill. If implemented, that bill would have made it very pernicious for any printer in the country to operate.
We've also claimed legislative victories on issues such as the so-called "death tax," which was very important for our industry. Most people don't realize how important the government is to their operations. When you think about these regulations and their potential impact on your company, it's overwhelming.
PI: For a mid-size printing company of 100 employees, what do these legislative victories actually mean in terms of saving money?
Makin: In a 100-person company, the Clinton-era ergonomics regulation would have instituted measures that would have cost a company that size somewhere between $10,000 and $15,000. That would be a tremendous hit to take in this economy.
On the so-called "death tax" issue, it's immeasurable because we're talking about the overwhelming taxation of family-owned enterprises. That should never be the case. People should be encouraged to be entrepreneurs, build a business and pass it down to their families without fear that the government is going to come in and take the assets.
Those are just a few of the dollar-value benefits we strive to win for our members through legislative reform. PIA/GATF will never be accused of being inactive on any legislative front; we have the best lobbying team in Washington.
PI: Who makes up the PIA/GATF lobbying team?
Makin: Ben Cooper is the head of our legislative action team, and one of the most respected lobbyists on Capitol Hill. We also have Wendy Lechner, who specializes in human relations issues; Jim Kyger, an expert on OSHA and other workplace issues; and Gary Jones, an environmental specialist. They all work with Ben to share information and form a legislative tracking method, which allows PIA/GATF to recognize issues very early in their life cycle and take action when needed.
PI: It seems that legislative action and reform can be a hard sell when attracting new association members. It's easy to say, "Why do I need to be a member? I'm going to reap the benefits of these activities anyway." How do you combat that attitude?
Makin: That's certainly a huge challenge, but I think we're positioning ourselves well to meet it. For example, we're in the process of merging our economic and technological research arms so that we can better analyze the implications of technology from a financial standpoint. We want to be able to pinpoint the impact technology has from an ROI standpoint on both industry-wide and individual levels. We believe that dovetailing our technical and economic research efforts will allow us to do some great things in that regard, and that the results of that research would be invaluable to any printer.
PI: Do you have any closing thoughts?
Makin: People are going to be very impressed with what PIA/GATF has to offer them going forward. Associations are generally not the most nimble of organizations, but that's not my style. We aim to respond quickly to member needs and suggestions, and we can't be afraid of making mistakes in the process. We need to do what's right and what's best for individual members.