“It’s the biggest company you've never heard of,” says John Loyer, head of North American government and public affairs at Somfy Systems. With nearly 10,000 employees and a presence in more than 50 countries, Somfy has spent the last 50 years quietly becoming one of the largest manufacturers of electric motors in the world. Headquartered in the French Alps, Somfy builds the systems used in all sorts of commercial and residential building applications.
“At the end of the day, if anything opens or closes automatically in a building or home like a blind, shade, pergola, skylight, hurricane shutter, window, door, garage doors, etc. Somfy probably manufactures a motor that does that,” he says.
Loyer joined the company in 2022 to build the North American government affairs practice from scratch and identify legislative and regulatory opportunities while mitigating risk for the company. “They wanted me to start by creating a very extensive strategic plan encompassing federal, state, and local legislation, regulation, and building codes for all of North America, not just the U.S. … sort of building the plane as I flew it,” he says.
That’s a tall order and, starting as a team of one, Loyer immediately knew he would need the best tools at his disposal that would act as a force multiplier for his efforts. “There was only one option as far as I'm concerned, and that was FiscalNote,” he says.
A long-time FiscalNote champion during his days at the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, now at Somfy Loyer continues to rely on CQ, FiscalNote, and our Professional Services team to build a successful government affairs practice in North America for Somfy.
Building Codes Dashboard: A Bespoke Solution Specifically for Somfy
Monitoring building codes at the state and local levels is vital for a manufacturer like Somfy. But tracking changes across the thousands of municipalities across all 50 states would be a manual, time-consuming process and the risk of missing something could be high and costly for the organization.
Frustrated with the lack of automated processes, Loyer saw an opportunity to partner with FiscalNote for this specific request that would make a big impact on his operations: tracking the adoption and amendment of building codes across the United States. The FiscalNote Professional Services team got to work and, together with Loyer, created a new product offering: the FiscalNote Building Codes Dashboard.
With this dashboard, Loyer (as well as other FiscalNote clients) can now monitor and consolidate the development and adoption of the building codes across key states, quickly drill down into each state or code category for more information, and directly connect to the agenda he’s looking for, enabling him to be more efficient and mitigate risk.
It’s our duty to our ownership to use FiscalNote to delve into the policy and where it's being applied.John Loyer, Head of North American Government and Public Affairs
An Extension of the Team Helping Discover New Business Opportunities
Part of Loyer’s workflow begins with FiscalNote’s Building Codes Dashboard and Professional Services tailored reports looking at any new or updated legislation and regulation around Somfy’s key issues at the federal, state, and local levels. With this intelligence, he then activates his rather large network of contract lobbyists or consultants to implement the correct strategy.
“It’s our duty to our ownership to use FiscalNote to delve into the policy and where it's being applied — and not just at the national or model code level, because states have a tendency to pick up those things,” Loyer says. “This is about effecting a positive change in the company's bottom line using policy and advocacy to do that.”
With his FiscalNote-based workflow, he can identify legislation and regulations that could present new business opportunities for Somfy. A perfect example is how he uses FiscalNote to closely follow the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
“Right now, they [the CPSC] are talking about the possibility of eliminating cords in manual shades and blinds from a safety perspective,” he says. This could represent an opportunity for Somfy to position automated motorized blinds as the safest option.
“We may or may not weigh in on that discussion,” Loyer adds, “but we most certainly want to know what is being discussed, by who, and when and what the results are. Because then we can go to our sales or marketing team and say, ‘Here's the opportunity: it is now a (mostly) cordless world … how do we ramp up to that?’” He keeps track of these discussions, as well as any following adoptions at the state and local levels, with FiscalNote.
Advancing Somfy’s Environmental Stewardship Goals
At its core, Somfy has a particular focus on sustainability and environmental issues, specifically looking to be a very green company by the year 2030. This means not only achieving 100 percent of eco-designed products (including the manufacture, packaging, shipping, distribution, etc.) but also helping improve energy efficiency in homes and buildings with its products, thereby reducing those CO2 emissions as well.
Loyer points to California’s Plastic Pollution Prevention and Packaging Producer Responsibility Act (SB 54) as an example of his workflow with FiscalNote in action. Thanks to FiscalNote and our Professional Services team, Loyer has been able to participate in the process early on to support this legislation as part of Somfy’s environmental stewardship commitment and help position the company to be able to respond quickly to this emerging issue nationally.
“It's a piece of legislation that popped up in California, but I will tell you, there are a minimum of 10 other states currently looking at the exact same legislation. And so, we're tracking them very carefully and monitoring them to support them,” Loyer says. “That's just one other example of an issue that pops up on our radar through our efforts with FiscalNote’s Professional Services team. And, either at the federal level or the state and local level, how we would take that policy and use it to help drive what we're doing and how we’re doing it.”
Government and Public Affairs in North America is the tip of the spear using the tip of the spear, which is FiscalNote.John Loyer, Head of North American Government and Public Affairs
Proving the Value of the Government Affairs Function Across the Organization
Loyer trusts FiscalNote so much, he also got buy-in to switch systems for his teammates in Europe to now use FiscalNote’s EU Issue Tracker. Relying on the reporting tools within the FiscalNote family of solutions, the North America and Europe teams can more easily collaborate and stay in alignment on key organizational priorities.
“We take those [FiscalNote] reports, and we share them, my team and EU team. We then meet at least twice a month to go over the emerging and current issues that we're managing, and we use FiscalNote to drive that discussion,” he adds.
Beyond collaborating with his counterparts in Europe, Loyer also relies on FiscalNote to report to Somfy’s leadership and prove the value of his function.
“That weekly report [from FiscalNote] becomes our effort’s guideline to leadership. We take it and send it to them and say, ‘here are the issues that we are tracking, here's how we are tracking them, here's where they are, and here's what we're going to do or what we should do,” he says. “Government and Public Affairs in North America is the tip of the spear using the tip of the spear, which is FiscalNote, and they're able to say, ‘John's working on the following, where can we help focus our specification/engineering, sales, and marketing efforts.’”
The Data to Power Strong Relationships with Stakeholders
The government affairs industry is evolving. While relationships are still king, like in many other areas, the function is becoming increasingly data-driven.
“The first words out of most, either politicians' or their staff’s mouths when we sit down — having the relationship that got me in the room in the first place — is what kind of data do you have?” Loyer says. “Luckily, Somfy has access to it, and the BEST way I have found to access it is with FiscalNote.”
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