From large to small, logistics services providers should be concerned about the impact legislation will have on them, says John E. Wagner Jr., president of Wagner Industries. Whether working through their own legal staffs or industry advocacy groups, 3PLs must be aware of such things as the Food Safety Modernization Act and laws affecting pensions, union activity, drivers' hours and many other areas.
This family owned business is typical of companies that don't have their own lobbyists and in-house legal experts, Wagner says, but which have needs very similar to the largest players in terms of understanding and dealing with government regulation.
Wagner Industries is involved through its trade group, the IWLA, which has an active governmental affairs committee. Of course, Wagner and others like him also fly into Washington from time to time to speak with their representatives.
Much of what's involved is education, making sure legislators understand what the supply chain is and what carriers, warehouse operators and 3PLs do.
He says when the food safety act was being considered, it was vitally important to make Congress understand that the role of the warehouse industry is different from that of manufacturers. As a consequence, the industry gained some concessions that reflect that reality.
"They tend to think in terms of 'Are you a trucking company, a railroad or a public warehouse,'" Wagner says. "They just don't understand the roles of each. When you speak of logistics and blending these various competencies within a single company, it becomes very confusing for them."
Site visits and tours are good tools as well. "They can see what you are doing. It's a total education process."
Wagner says the impression many smaller 3PLs have is that all rule-making will simply increase costs whether the legislation is justified or not. "That makes it hard to plan your future supply chain because of the uncertainty." Yet you can't just throw your hands up and walk away, he says. "At the end of the day legislators will hear from taxing authorities and labor and others, so if you don't speak up you will be left outside and angry."
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