It’s a long way from Boise, Idaho, to Washington, D.C. But that hasn’t kept Rick Lierz, the president of Franklin Building Supply, from joining industry colleagues in each of the past three years to push the LBM agenda on Capitol Hill.
Lierz is the incoming chairman of the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association. And while he describes his interest in politics as “normal size,” his appreciation for the work of the NLBMDA, and particularly the annual Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., is clearly extra large.
"What I came away with was a completely different sense of what goes on on Capitol Hill and in Washington – in a positive way.”In an interview with HBSDealer at the 12-location lumberyard company’s Boise headquarters, Lierz pointed to the multi-faceted value of participating in the NLBMDA. One reason is simply to experience the process of working with colleagues from around the country to achieve common goals.
“The NLBDMA Legislative Conferences are tremendous,” he said. “Not only are they interesting, but they’re also a lot of fun. And I’ve found it personally valuable. In my very first year, what I came away with was a completely different sense of what goes on on Capitol Hill and in Washington — in a positive way.”
In fact, he’s found them so valuable that Lierz has begun bringing Franklin Building Supply colleagues to get a taste of the lobbying and the learning at the conferences. “I want to get more leaders of all different ages to go back and experience that,” he said.
Another reason to get involved in the NLBMDA is the sheer importance of the work at hand and the implications of government regulations. “I think it’s very important that we have a voice in Washington for our industry,” he said. “Consider that dozens of other industries are doing the same thing, all day and every day. The more people we have involved, the bigger impact we have.”
Everyone has their individual list of hot-button policy issues, and Lierz shared a handful that sit at the top of his list. There’s the mortgage interest deduction, which he feels is very important to the industry as Congress tackles tax reform. “Everything is on the table, and that’s a big deal,” he said.
Given the frequency of frivolous lawsuits, he also describes himself as passionately supportive of the Innocent Sellers Fairness Act. And the softwood lumber trade agreement is another big deal to dealers, who feel an agreement between the U.S. and Canada is needed as a remedy to extreme pricing volatility. “Anything we can do to take what is clearly an uncertain buying proposition to start with and make it more certain is helpful,” he said.
And also, the Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule continues to impact lumberyards’ ability to work on remodels.
[See the NLBMDA’s 2017 Legislative Agenda here.]
Franklin Building Supply was founded by Rick's father Dick Lierz in 1976. Today the company operates 12 yards, plus two truss plants, six door shops and five design centers. In April of 2016, the company became 100% employee-owned through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan.
Lierz will officially begin his term as NLMBDA chair during the NLBMDA officer installation dinner, one of the highlights of the ProDealer Industry Summit slated for Oct. 17-19 in Phoenix, Ariz.
As NLBMDA chairman, he follows in the footsteps of Scott Yates of Denver Lumber, and current chair George Lester of the Virginia-based Lester Group. Both men have offered Lierz advice about leading the NLBMDA, and Lierz’s main message hammers on the theme of participation.
“Get involved in the lobbying,” he said. “Get involved with the legislative end of it. My hope is to convince as many people around the country to join that. It’s a singular experience, and it provides glue to membership.”