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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A Wyoming tree began its trek across the country on Nov. 9. When its journey ends on Nov. 28 it will stand on the west front lawn of the U.S. Capitol, thanks in part to NACS.
As one of the sponsors of this year's Capitol Christmas Tree, NACS is seizing the chance to bring recognition to the association and the industry. "We were asked by the Wyoming delegation if we would like to be a sponsor of the Capitol Tree," Jeff Lenard, NACS vice president of communications explained to CSNews Online. "We thought it would be a terrific opportunity to brand our industry on Capitol Hill and tell our story to Congress."
The 67-foot Engelmann spruce from the Bridger-Teton National Forest, the first from Wyoming, and its seven-vehicle caravan began the trip two weeks ago and is winding its way through a total of 14 states. And along the way NACS is letting all the affected congressional delegates know what NACS is all about and how important the industry is to the country. For example, Lenard said, how many gallons of gas are sold at convenience stores and the number of people the industry employs.
To highlight that importance, NACS is paying some of the seven-vehicle caravan's costs. "Convenience stores sell 80 percent of the gas in the country," he said. "We offered to pick up the tab for the caravan to refuel as it comes across the country." But NACS isn't stopping there. "From fuel the next logical step was snacks," Lenard added.
So far, feedback has been nothing but positive. In Gillette, Wyo., the caravan ran into heavy snow, he explained, so the employees at the designated refueling stop washed the caravan's windows, fueled the vehicles and brought out hot food. "Every step along the way has been phenomenal," Lenard said.
The participating stores are getting involved, telling customers when the tree will be arriving so they can come and take pictures, he added. "We are trying to make this a celebration of our members, make NACS more visible," Lenard said. And now is a good time, he added, because several industry-related issues will be coming before Congress. "This starts the conversation," he added.
NACS refueling plan has run up against one challenge: the truck carrying the tree is 105 feet long. "As much as we would like them to stop at every corner store, the sites may not have the room," Lenard explained. "We are running logistics along the way." Those logistics include finding a location near the caravan's already-planned stops which is big enough for the vehicles and offers diesel fuel. "It has been a real art trying to figure out where we ended up," he added. "We wish we could have done more."