On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Angus King (I-ME) paid a visit to distributor Geiger’s (PPAI 105182) headquarters in Lewiston, Maine. During his time with Geiger, he toured the facility, met with staff and shared his thoughts on Washington.

King’s visit began with a look at the solar array the company installed in 2017 and a discussion around the company’s sustainability efforts. As the owner of the largest business solar array in Maine, Geiger generates 100 percent of its annual electricity needs on-site, and 100 percent of its product shipments are carbon neutral, as the company offsets the carbon required to deliver packages.

The senator also toured the company’s facility, spoke with its web development team and met with senior management. Staff at that meeting elaborated on issues of concern to the company, such as import tariffs on goods it sells, independent contractors’ status and the shortage of skilled labor. Dale Denham, MAS+, Geiger’s CIO and PPAI’s board chair, also spoke with the senator about the Association and key industry issues.

“I shared with the senator an overview of what PPAI does and the thousands of small businesses we represent,” says Denham. “I brought up the Association’s position on independent contractors and the importance to our industry of using legitimate independent contractors. He quickly responded that I used the right word when I said ‘legitimate’ as so many people are misusing the classification.”

Earlier this month, a delegation participating in PPAI’s L.E.A.D. met with two of King’s aides in Washington, D.C. Denham adds, “When I mentioned PPAI, King responded almost immediately, saying ‘I think your organization has been to my office.’ What a great reminder of how important it is to participate in L.E.A.D. and be actively engaging our elected officials on a regular basis.”

King closed out his visit with a meeting with about 40 of the company’s staff members. Geiger CEO Gene Geiger, MAS, says, “Among the things he spoke about was why politics has become so polarized in D.C. and how he tries to break down barriers there. Because the first vote each week takes place after 5 pm on Monday and the last vote is at noon on Thursday, everyone, including the senators from Hawaii, flies home every weekend. Consequently, our senators and representatives just don’t know each other anymore. To that end, roughly every six weeks he invites five or six other senators from both sides of the aisle to his home for dinner. There is no political agenda; they just hang out and talk.

“During one such dinner, one senator noted, ‘I’ve been here for eight years, and this is the first time I’ve talked with [the person sitting next to him].’ Acknowledging the lack of civility, King said, ‘You can’t hate someone if you know the names of their kids.’”