President Ronald Reagan. The fall of the Berlin Wall. The first female named to the U.S. Supreme Court. The assassination of John Lennon. The war on drugs. The launch of MTV and the subsequent Live Aid concerts. The Exxon Valdez oil spill. All of these events helped shape the 1980s, a decade of great social, technological and economic change around the world.
American communities changed rapidly during the '80s. The traditional 9-to-5 work had become obsolete and women were mainstays in the workforce. About 35 percent of the population had two incomes and two cars, and busy families found themselves eating, working and sleeping on different schedules.
The explosion of government relations activities in the 1980s led NACS to seek out new ways to fuel the industry’s resource engine. In the early 1980s, NACS debuted the Hunter Club, an elevated supplier membership category that was integral in helping to fund early advocacy efforts. In 1987, the industry added another critical resource engine with the NACS Show exposition becoming an annual event.
NACS created an in-house government relations function during the '80s, first by revamping the Membership Committee to become the Legislative Committee, and then by hiring its first in-house lobbyist, Teri Richman, in 1982. Within three years NACS doubled its staff and hired Lyle Beckwith in 1984 as manager of state relations.
On February 23, 1983, NACS testified before the House Subcommittee on Energy Conservation and Power in support of legislation to move the beginning of Daylight Saving Time (DST) from the last Sunday of April to the first Sunday of March. NACS in-house lobbyist Teri Richman told members of the committee that extending DST would:
- Lower crime rates
- Reduce traffic injuries and fatalities
- Increase available recreational hours
- Reduce energy consumption
- Increase productivity
DST extension was a legislative priority for NACS and was the subject of several "action alerts," letter-writing campaigns and personal visits with members of Congress and their staff by NACS retail members. The legislation became law in 1987. At the time, NACS said that extending DST would also lead to as much as an extra $1 billion in sales with people enjoying more daylight hours in the evening. Or, as Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) put it: "Congress spends all day playing hardball on the Hill. Now we can play softball in the evening."
The enactment of numerous California ordinances prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages and gasoline in the same location – known as beer/gas bans, was a big threat to industry competitiveness against other channels. NACS aggressively sought to fight the spread of these bans and to conduct research to determine if there actually are problems arising from the sale of both products at one location.
Also during the mid-'80s NACS focused the industry's attention on the nation's problem of drunk driving by implementing a "Don't Drive Drunk" program that received a Presidential Citation from Ronald Reagan. NACS held its first national press conference to announce the kick-off of a responsible alcohol retailing campaign titled "ID Please, It's the LAW" and produced an audio-visual training program called Techniques of Alcohol Management (TAM).
In 1988, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency passed stringent underground storage tank regulations, a 10-year phase-in period, that required all operators to upgrade their USTs with spill-prevention and leak-detection equipment.
The explosion of government-relations activity in the 1980s led NACS to seek out new ways to fuel the industry's resource engine. As a result, NACS debuted the Hunter Club, an elevated supplier membership category that was integral in helping to fund early advocacy efforts. In 1987, the industry added another critical resource engine with the NACS Show exposition becoming an annual event.