At the National Association of Manufacturers’ (NAM) meeting in September 2017, President Donald Trump predicted tax reform would be “rocket fuel” for the American economy, and his words are ringing true as manufacturers across the country continue to soar to new heights. One example is Ariel Corporation of Mt. Vernon, Ohio, which is further improving pay and benefits for its employees as a result of tax reform.
Karen Buchwald Wright, chairman, CEO and president of Ariel Corporation, told the NAM that tax reform is helping the company improve the quality of life for their employees and the entire community of Mt. Vernon.
Karen told the NAM that the company is using tax reform to further increase wages and expand benefits for her employees:
- Tax reform means “reinvesting in the business,” Karen said. They plan to further grow Ariel’s manufacturing capabilities, provide even better pay and benefits for employees and continue giving back to the community.
- Last year, before tax reform was even discussed, Ariel gave across-the-board pay increases because she had repeatedly read that due to high taxes and an overwhelming regulatory climate, “national wages throughout manufacturing had essentially been flat for 20 years,” Karen explained. “So, across the board, we gave everyone a 13 percent increase in wages,” she said.
- Because of tax reduction, Karen reported that Ariel is moving forward with further significant raises in 2018, thanks to additional profits the company can invest in both people and the “tools” they need to do their jobs. Ariel will offer employees performance-based raises of up to 4.25 percent, on top of what they already received last year. Tax reform also allowed improvements and increases in the company’s generous profit-sharing and retirement programs.
Karen’s deep commitment to both her current and future employees is benefiting the entire town. According to David Stuller, Ariel’s CFO, the company’s positive economic impact, along with Ariel’s generous charity work in the community, is helping to revitalize Mt. Vernon.
- “Our downtown had really gone the way of other Midwest downtowns; there wasn’t much life left to it,” David explained. “And through Karen’s efforts, it’s come back a lot. Three colleges with classrooms and departments downtown, new restaurants, restored historic theaters, a remarkable park reclaiming a decaying industrial site, a beautiful hotel…It has really come back to life.”
And Ariel is doing more than just investing in their current employees: they’re recruiting, training and developing a new generation of the highly skilled workforce needed across the manufacturing sector.
“In addition to three two-year degree programs for machine trades, mechanics and energy infrastructure maintenance, developed with Ohio and Pennsylvania technical colleges, we are now reaching into the high school vocational world, partnering with local vocational trade schools to develop the workforce needed here and throughout the country. We’d like kids and parents to take another look at modern manufacturing as a satisfying and highly remunerative career path. Recently, with our new ‘Blue Chip’ program, we recruited for attitude and aptitude,” Karen said. “We started with 24 young folks [from local high schools], 22 of whom finished the program in early April, fulfilling the stringent requirements necessary to ‘graduate.’”
“They’ve been paid while they go to school,” she added. “It’s a very intense machinist training program of 500 hours. Now that they have finished, they have been deployed throughout the company. They’ve gone right into jobs we really needed filled! And we’re already in the process of recruiting and starting a second class.”
Citing the NAM’s Creators Wanted campaign, Karen explained the importance of manufacturers reaching students and parents alike. “If the parents don’t think there’s a career path in manufacturing, they’re not going to encourage their kids,” she said. “So, we’ve been having career fairs that include parents and students, and we have curriculum and programs developed that are going to be starting in the fall at several [local] schools.”
Ariel isn’t done investing and giving back. Tax reform means it’s even easier to continue to reward Ariel’s valuable workforce and improve the company’s and the community’s infrastructures in the months to come.
“Certainly, a reduction in taxes is good for all of those things,” Karen said. “Our intention is to use the additional profits from not paying so much tax to benefit everyone. It is pretty cool that we have this opportunity to positively impact so many people. ‘A rising tide lifts all boats,’ often quoted by JFK, is a great way to describe the results of tax cuts.”
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