Philadelphia Manufacturing Executives Call for Change
November 1, 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
Philadelphia, Pa.–On Thursday, Oct. 4, the Philadelphia 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 175 members and their customers, was moderated by MSCI president and CEO M. Robert Weidner, III, and hosted by David Wochele, senior product manager at Yarde Metals in Limerick, Pa., and chapter president William Marsh, president of American Bar Products in Warminster, Pa.
The event took place at Yarde Metals in Limerick, Pa. Panelists included: John Pippy, CEO of the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance; Lou D'Amico, president and executive director, Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association; William Griscom, president, Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology; Frank Britt, CEO of Penn Foster; Gene Barr, president and CEO, Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry; David Taylor, executive director, Pennsylvania Manufacturer's Association; Karla Lewis, executive vice president and CFO of Reliance Steel & Aluminum; and Jack Elrod, president and CEO, TW Metals. Also attending was Brandon Casey legislative aide to Rep. Allyson Schwartz, a democrat representing Pennsylvania’s 13th District, as well as U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach, a republican representing Pennsylvania's sixth District.
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. The opportunity was welcome by Gerlach, who said, “At the end of the day, the basis for what we do, the bills we put on the floor, is based upon what we hear back from our constituants. As you educate the public, they're going to better understand what we're trying to do as elected officials. You have a certain credibility as a local business, as a community leader, as someone that employs people, to put a message across that sometimes elected officials can't.”
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 growth in the manufacturing industry.
“By 2000 we started to see a net shipping out of jobs to other [countries], because we started to see high energy costs. We don't have the technological advantage and labor advantage that we had, and we're getting hammered on the regulatory costs. That is a no-win situation, and that is the environment we're currently in,” said Pippy.
“We created 87,287 bachelor degrees and 19,348 degrees, yet since 1950, only 20% of the jobs in our work force required a four-year degree,” said Griscom. “There is a mis-match between the output of Pennsylvania's higher education system and the needs of our economy.”
The summit was just one of 11 being held across the country this year. 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.
“When you look at our member companies–from companies that melt and smelt the product to companies like Yarde that process and distribute the product–in the aggregate that metals supply chain contributes about a quarter of $1 trillion dollars to the economy in terms of employment,” said Weidner. “The importance of good public policy relative to preserving and growing those jobs is why we're here today. 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 want 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.