Pittsburgh Manufacturing Executives Call for Change
October 16, 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
Pittsburgh, Pa.–On Thursday the Pittsburgh 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 more than 100 members and their customers, was moderated by MSCI president and CEO M. Robert Weidner, III, and hosted by chapter president David Yundt, vice president and director Stainless Products, Main Steel Polishing Co., Inc.
The event took place at the Embassy Suites in Coraopolis, Pa. Panelists included: William M. Hickey, president, Lapham-Hickey Steel Corp.; Craig T. Bouchard, president and CEO, United Technical Industries, Inc.; Norman E. Gottschalk, Jr., president, Marmon Distribution Services, Inc.; Michael S. Williams, senior vice president, North American Flat-Roll Operations, United States Steel Corp.; and Ladd R. Hall, executive vice president, Flat Rolled Products, Nucor Corp.
Republican candidate for U.S. Congress Pennsylvania District 14 Dr. Hans Lessmann and State Rep. Mark Mustio, a Republican representing the Pennsylvania 44th District, were also in attendance.
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 first thing is we have to get people back to work and grow the economy. You grow the economy and what happens is you get a massive increase in revenues to the government and a huge decrease in government expenses because social welfare programs have fewer participants,” said Hickey. “This has to be the number one national priority.”
Williams agreed. “If we really want to turn this economy around, it's about jobs. We have to have a strong steel industry,” he added. “It’s the foundation of this country. We make things.”
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 government officials who are willing to work together and take decisive action for the good of the country. Gottschalk spoke to directly to that point. “An executive order is when the president tries to bypass Congress,” he explained. “George Bush was the highest with 91 executive orders in eight years. This administration has over 900 in less than 4 years.”
When asked what advice they would give the president the morning after the election, Hall mentioned a small sign he has at the office which says, ‘There aint no one of us as smart as all of us.’ “There isn’t one individual that has all the right answers,” he explained. “I would surround myself with knowledgeable diverse opinions and views and listen to them – because one person is not always right.”
Last Thursday's summit was just one of 11 being held across the country this year. Other host cities include: 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.
“The importance of good public policy relative to preserving and growing jobs is why we're conducting these summits,” 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 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.” Weidner also urged members and guests to talk to others in their spheres of influence about these issues and the elections, and closed with the thought that there is no reason any business person should not exercise their right to vote.
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.