The Congressmen drove a forklift and listened to small business owner's challenges
Congressman Kevin Hern is no stranger to small business issues. A small business owner himself, the Representative was excited to take on NFIB’s Small Business Challenge. Arriving in a suit and tie, the Congressman rolled up his sleeves and jumped right in – learning that when you own and run a lumberyard, you better be ready for action and you better be comfortable with tools.
Rep. Hern drives a forklift at M & M Lumber.
That’s what the NFIB Small Challenge is all about. Lawmakers work at an NFIB member business to see what the experience is really like. They quickly learn that a small business owner takes on nearly every role at the company, and that a small business isn’t just a smaller version of a big corporation.
Rep. Hern has owned and run multiple small businesses, including a manufacturing facility, technology company, and McDonald’s restaurants – but he’d never made a double interior door before.
Whitney McKellar and her employees were more than happy to show the Congressman the ropes. Whitney is a third-generation small business owner. Her grandfather, Jim McKellar Sr., started M & M Lumber shortly after returning from World War II, where he worked on a sawmill in the South Pacific. In the middle of combat, McKellar and his fellow Navy Seabees were forced to use inaccurate and dull equipment – the wood could only be milled into two sizes: thick or thin. Yet they somehow managed to built roads, bridges, and hospitals on the way to an Allied victory. Whitney never thought she’d take over the family business – in fact, that was the last thing she wanted to do – but after college and living away from home, she decided to give working with her family a try. She returned to Tulsa, worked side by side with her dad for a day and decided she’d never leave again.
Rep. Kevin Hern tours M & M Lumber in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Whitney, her husband Sean and her dad Jim now split duties running the day to day operations at M & M. The lumberyard has grown from 2,000 to 10,000 square feet and employs 36 Oklahomans. The three small business owners are so busy, they don’t have time to keep tabs on everything Congress is doing in Washington, D.C. That’s the reason Small Business Challenges are so important: it gives lawmakers the chance to go back to their districts and connect with the people who represent them – and it gives small business owners the opportunity to learn how their Senators and Representatives are voting on issues that matter to them.
Whitney McKellar talks with Rep. Hern about her small business, M & M Lumber.