Q & A with Todd Stottlemyer
CEO, National Federation of Indepedent Business
With a disarming smile, Todd shows us a cavalry sword given to him by a NFIB member this summer. “He said I should use it to defend the interests of small businesses."
What’s this about an incentive compensation program at NFIB?
Every employee is eligible. Senior managers can earn bonuses of 15-20% of their base salaries for high performance. And the more senior you are, the more that bonus is based on quantifiable factors. Throughout the organization, everyone knows our mission and benefits financially when we meet our goals.
Is this comp program unusual for an association?
We represent small business owners and entrepreneurs. It’s important that our organization and our values reflect those of our members.
Do you see any trends in your membership?
More than ever, members are demanding positive ROIs. Previous generations viewed membership differently. They were more interested in supporting the overall success of small business in America. Today’s members want to see demonstrable value. They want information, tools, and programs that directly impact their own bottom lines. And not just data - because they think, mistakenly I believe, that they can get that for free on the Web.
Tan, rested and ready? Well, maybe not so tan - even though John is fresh off a week in Nags Head, NC. The gavel on his desk is from his days as chairman of the Fairfax County chamber of commerce, ’98, ’99.
How do you communicate that value to them?
Like a for-profit corporation, we have a Customer Relationship Management system and constantly research and survey our members. Also, as an example, we put a price on all the products we provide. Even though those products are part of their membership, we put a price because it represents value.
How big is your organization?
900 full-time employees and annual revenue of over $100M.
What do those 900 do?
Almost half of them are our sales force. We have field sales reps across the country. The balance is made up of member support staff, advocacy staff at the national and state levels, and operations and support staff.
How are you organized?
Broadly speaking, we provide advocacy and consulting for our members. Advocacy is representing small business in the public policy process at the state and national levels, and consulting is providing the programs, information, and tools to help small businesses owners start and manage successful businesses.
How are you organized geographically?
We have four regions and four “super states” - Ohio, Texas, California, and Florida. We have an office in every state capital. Our national offices are here and in Nashville. I’m back and forth between the two.
Todd takes his cherry blossoms seriously. One of 10 originals, this print was done by an employee of Apogen Technologies, where Todd was CEO from ’03-’06.
Anything changing about your structure?
We’ve flattened the organization to streamline decision-making and are allocating a greater percentage of resources to the state level. That’s where the big issues are being addressed. Things like health care, immigration, and eminent domain are being debated there as much or more as at the federal level.
What are your top three policy issues?
Health care, health care, and health care. It’s such a big issue because small businesses are generating virtually all the job growth in this country yet 50% of their employees aren’t covered because the costs are prohibitive. We are leading the way to a solution for this. A distant second are tax, legal, and regulatory issues. For example, fighting the legal environment that allows a $54M lawsuit to be filed over a lost pair of pants by a dry cleaner.
You went to college with a well-known television personality?
Jon Stewart and I went to William & Mary together. Former FCC Commissioner Michael Powell was a classmate too.