Columbus, OH - During the next several weeks, you'll hear plenty of analysis about how the 2006 congressional and gubernatorial elections will affect businesses and business owners, and HARDI will be weighing in on the specific implications for HVACR distributors. However, in the meantime, it is important for HARDI members to know some things you can be doing now to prepare for a new political environment.

Whether or not you voted for your elected officials, they're not going anywhere for at least two years if in the House or six if in the Senate, and, more often than not, incumbents serve more than one term. If you now have representation in the House or Senate (or both) by someone you don't know or didn't vote for, it is imperative that they understand the key issues facing you and your business before they become firmly entrenched in Washington. The 110th Congress doesn't officially open for business in D.C. until January, which means you've got less than two months to get acquainted with your representatives.

If your representative is a freshman, call their campaign office to find out their schedule and set up a meeting (most likely with a staffer).

If you've not supported your incumbent Democratic representative, arrange a meeting with them now because the shift in congressional power makes it more important for as many congressmen as possible to learn - in person - the contributions your business makes to the local and national economy.

Talbot Gee, vice president, HARDI.