WASHINGTON, D.C.—Kaivac, Inc., a manufacturer based in Ohio—a state the National Association of Manufacturers’ (NAM) State of Manufacturing Tour visited yesterday—figures that with President Donald Trump in charge, it doesn’t have to worry about new, overreaching federal regulations. In Texas, another state the NAM visited during the tour, Michael Gromacki, president of Dixie Chemical Company, Inc., sees the president’s plans to rebuild the nation’s crumbling roads and bridges as a proven way to spur job creation and economic development.
And Charles Wetherington, president of BTE Technologies, Inc., a Maryland innovator in workplace injury prevention and physical rehabilitation technology, welcomes President Trump’s calls to cut taxes. “That gives me hope,” he said.
In advance of the president’s first address to Congress tonight, these and other NAM members say they have plenty of reasons to be optimistic that the businessman will be good for business.
“We can feel the optimism in talking with our customers,” said Tom Morrison, vice president of marketing at Kaivac, a company with corporate clients.
“President Trump is a deal-maker,” said Wetherington, vice chair of the NAM’s Small and Medium Manufacturers Group. “He’s going to be doing that in the Oval Office.”
Gromacki noted, “Our view is that the data supports being optimistic. We’re going to remain optimistic as long as the data points in that direction.”
In addition to President Trump’s legislative agenda, the data includes a jump in the government’s measurement of consumer confidence, a bullish stock market and pro-business Cabinet nominees, such as former Exxon Mobil Corporation Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry as secretary of energy and former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Even on trade, many manufacturers see promise that President Trump will follow a more balanced approach in which they can prosper.
Those feelings are based largely on President Trump’s selections of Tillerson as chief diplomat and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad as U.S. ambassador to China. Branstad, like Tillerson, understands the value of trade, having long embraced China as a buyer of his state’s farm goods.
A Quinnipiac University Poll during President Trump’s first days in office found 53 percent of voters were “generally optimistic” about the next four years with him as president. And by a margin of 44 percent to 36 percent, respondents thought President Trump “will help the economy.”
Wetherington said his regulatory compliance costs soared 450 percent during the past eight years. So he’s hopeful President Trump’s push for regulatory reform as well as tax relief will help a portion of his company that assists manufacturers in the creation of safe-work environments.
Still, there are some issues that could use more details. Wetherington, for example, said until questions are answered about health insurance coverage, company sales of medical devices will likely suffer. “It could be a rough ride,” he said.
At Kaivac, Morrison and Bob Toews, the company’s chief financial officer, are bullish about President Trump. However, they are still upset with the Obama administration, particularly its EPA.
What happened is that the company introduced a new cleaning product, and the EPA raised concerns about its label. Morrison and Toews said the company made revisions, notified authorities and assumed, after a long silence, that it was in full compliance.
But then, nearly two years later, Kaivac received a “stop sale, use or removal order” from the EPA. “They had all the power and abused it,” said Toews, who helped negotiate a settlement.
Toews said President Trump’s pick of Pruitt, an EPA critic, should end such federal overreach.
Looking ahead, Toews said, “We don’t expect President Trump to get everything he wants from Congress. But we expect policies coming out of the administration to be positive, to promote growth, to promote America and not be such a disruption to people who have jobs and work hard.”