25 January 2021
Northeast HPBA made the decision to email all of the newly-elected house and senate representatives in each state in our region to congratulate them on their victory, to introduce them to the NEHPBA members in their district, and to introduce them to NEHPBA and what we do. We've been getting so many wonderful responses. See an example of one of the letters we sent and some of the many responses below:
Dear Representative Kushmerek:
Congratulations on being elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
The Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (NEHPBA) is a trade association representing more than 300 individual member retail and related companies throughout the Northeast. These are our region’s chimney sweeps, installers, hearth retailers, maintenance companies, and any other entity having a commercial interest in the hearth, patio and/or barbecue industry, including—but not limited to—gas utilities, publications, testing laboratories, insurance agencies, financial institutions, business systems providers, advertising agencies, public relations firms, and so much more. Specifically, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, we have over 60 member companies—all of whom are independent “mom and pop” small businesses.
Feens Country Living, owned by Wendy Feen in Fitchburg, is a local, family owned and operated business that has been servicing the area for over 45 years. Feens is an NEHPBA member that installs gas, wood and pellet fireplaces. They are well known in your community and we look forward to introducing you further to our member businesses.
Our member businesses are community contributors. They sponsor local little leagues; they are members of school boards and PTAs; they provide a sense of vibrancy to Main Street, they know the towns and cities they represent because they live there; and the local impact they are making in the economy is needed, now more than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic, where so many of our small businesses are already being pushed to the limit—from North Adams to Natick and Springfield to Salisbury.
NEHPBA and our members remain committed to working with government officials and regulators at all levels to increase access to more sustainable and climate centric fuel sources throughout our homes and businesses. I look forward to getting to know you and introducing you to our members. Please do not hesitate to contact me at (978) 443-0344 or via email at Karen@NEHPBA.org with any questions.
Karen L. Luther
Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association
Some of the responses from the letter above:
6 January 2021
The past year delivered unprecedented challenges for the American economy and our industry as we coped with the impact and disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic.
But on a consistent basis the biggest challenge to the hearth industry continues to be government regulations which impact our livelihood, create new hurdles to doing business and alter our ability to effectively serve customers.
At the core we are actually a building materials industry. But because we exist at the crossroads of both energy and environmental policy, we face more government regulation than any other segment of the building materials sector. When you integrate our critical role in servicing a range of heating equipment that uses a variety of fuels, almost every business function represented by the Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (NEHPBA) is subject to intense regulation and government oversight.
We deserve a seat at the table and a voice in the process for all policy making that impacts our members. And in 2021, one of NEHPBA’s top priorities will be making sure we are at that table and that the industry’s voice – YOUR voice – is heard. You are more than 300 individual retail, service and related companies across the Northeast: chimney sweeps, installers, maintenance providers, retail showrooms and other entities. And you are part of a much broader industry nationwide represented in Washington by the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association (HPBA).
In the Northeast region – the six New England states and New York - we are fighting for your interests and your livelihood. In Maine and Vermont we continue to advocate strongly on our members’ behalf against some of those states’ most aggressive and damaging initiatives that impact this industry. And most recently, were heavily engaged in bringing our industry’s message to lawmakers in Massachusetts as they finalized a comprehensive piece of climate legislation at the end of 2020 and into the early days of this year. Preserving energy choice is critical in the Northeast for the good of consumers and members of (NEHPBA). In Massachusetts alone we have over 60 member companies - the vast majority of them independent “mom and pop” small businesses.
These NEHPBA members, as is the case throughout the Northeast, are good civic and community partners. All of our members are. You sponsor local little leagues; you serve on school boards and PTAs; you provide a sense of vibrancy to Main Street, not Wall Street; and you know the towns and cities you serve because you live there. The local impact you have on the economy is desperately needed - now more than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic, when so many of our small businesses are already being pushed to the limit.
NEHPBA recognizes the changing landscape of the energy and fossil fuel industry. We are committed to working with government officials and regulators at all levels to increase access to more sustainable and climate-centric fuel sources throughout our homes and businesses. But we must make our voice heard clearly as more states advance toward “Net Zero” emissions goals – as Massachusetts has done with its newest climate bill. With every major weather event the Northeast experiences – particularly in the winter – the potential peril of neglecting energy diversity as governments march toward lower emissions is evident.
Our nation’s electric grid relies on natural gas for approximately 40 percent of U.S. power generation. That means the very sources of renewable energy that policymakers favor – electric heat, wind energy and other “non-burning” systems – are still largely dependent on natural gas for the creation of that energy supply. Put simply: U.S. natural gas demand is likely to skyrocket – as much as 65 percent by 2050 – over the same time period during which policymakers are planning dramatic reductions in natural gas usage. Additionally, the long-term measures required to fully repair the U.S. economy from 2020’s pandemic-inflicted damage almost certainly means massive new programs to invest in infrastructure and manufacturing will be on the table. Such initiatives will require tremendous amounts of energy that cannot be fulfilled without sustaining and even expanding gas-fired energy generation.
But do these macro issues really have a direct impact on YOU – the small business owner serving customers and households in your own community?
Energy and environmental policy may be created at the federal and state level – but it is almost always implemented in some way at the local level, with visible impact on communities and the businesses that serve them.
You deserve a voice in these debates. You need a seat at the table. We are committed to providing both for all our members in 2021 and beyond.
Members of the Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (NEHPBA) and its regional Affiliates are the leading companies that produce, sell, or service appliances and accessories in the hearth and barbecue industries in North America. Join today to take advantage of all the benefits your company will receive.JOIN NOW
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