Manufacturing Executives Call for Change
October 2, 2012
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Jonathan Kalkwarf, vice president, finance and administration, 847-485-3007
Ashley DeVecht, director of communication, 847-485-3011 or 616-260-2785
Manufacturing Executives Call for Change
Cleveland, Ohio–On Monday the Northern Ohio chapter of the Metals Service Center Institute (MSCI) held its 2012 Manufacturing Summit Closing the Divide Between Jobs, Policy and Growth. The event, which was attended by 130 members and their customers, was moderated by MSCI president and CEO M. Robert Weidner, III, and hosted by MSCI chapter president John Zasadni, branch manager at Yarde Metals in Streetsboro, Ohio. The event took place at Jergen's Inc. Panelists included: Roger Sustar, president of Fredon Corp.; Karla Lewis, executive vice president and CFO of Reliance Steel & Aluminum; Robert Lapp, vice president of government affairs and community relations at The Timken Co.; and Gary Stein, president of Triple-S Steel Supply Co. Political candidates' representatives attending the event were:
- Beth Thames, Deputy State Director for Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown
- Nicole Kostura, Northeastern Ohio Regional Liaison for Governor Kasich
The summit was an opportunity for national and local manufacturing leaders, policy experts, employees and political candidates to discuss the most pressing issues facing the manufacturing and metal services sectors.
According to a study by MSCI, the metals industry has a direct impact on more than 500,000 jobs. While concerns about outsourcing and moving jobs overseas have dominated the news, manufacturing is actually one of the bright spots of the current economy. Manufacturing accounts for 11.7% of the U.S. GDP, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. However, significant challenges remain, including the rising cost of health care and the increasing costs the federal government has imposed on businesses.
Questions for the panel centered around MSCIs policy agenda, which includes positions on energy, trade, tax and regulation. During the discussions, panelists highlighted the importance of strong leadership and decisive action to support the growth we're beginning to see in the manufacturing industry.
“We need leaders in place who will make decisions and who will actually move forward, instead of continuing to punt,” said Lewis. “The government has not been able to put a budget together in years. If the government was a U.S. public company, they would have been severely in violation of Sarbanes and Oxly and many other regulations for not being able to approve a budget. They probably would have been shut down.”
Lapp agreed, “We're sitting here, three months away from January 1 and not a person in this room can predict what your taxes are going to be January 1, what your health care costs are going to be, what your energy costs will be, let alone any other regulations. With that level of uncertainty, your first reaction is going to be, 'Don't touch my wallet because I don't know what's going to happen next.'”
Stein explained that a shift in thinking is needed by those who govern: “Business is not the enemy. Business people are not bad people. Most people in the United States work for a business. So stop vilifying business. The word 'to govern' does not mean 'to provide for.' Give us the rules to live by, and then stay out of the way.”
Monday's summit was just one of 11 being held across the country this year. Other host cities include: Philadelphia, Charlotte, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Rochester and Los Angeles. MSCI hosts these events every election cycle, following an initial set of town hall meetings in 2004 and 2005. The program was expanded this year to more forcefully address the continued economic uncertainty many manufacturers and American industries face and to provide the leadership necessary to find workable solutions.
“While manufacturing only accounts for approximately 12% of GDP, one could make the case that despite the challenges coming out of Washington, manufacturing has been the lifeblood of a relatively stagnant economy,” said Weidner. “This year is a critical election year, at a time when manufacturing could play a very pivotal role in getting the nation back on track. We wanted to give our members and their communities a chance to learn more about the concerns of our industry and to understand where their local candidates stand on addressing those issues.”
Founded in 1909, the Metals Service Center Institute, based in Rolling Meadows, Ill., has more than 400 members operating from more than 1,500 locations in the United States, Canada, Mexico and throughout the world. Together MSCI members constitute the largest single group of metals purchasers in North America, amounting each year to more than 55 million tons of steel, aluminum and other metals, with about 300,000 manufacturers and fabricators as customers. MSCI's membership also includes almost all ferrous and non-ferrous industrial metals producers in North America. Service centers inventory, process and distribute metals to manufacturing intermediaries and original equipment manufacturers.