United States

What do manufacturers need from Washington?


RSM recently sponsored a series of meetings presented by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) featuring leading manufacturers in markets around the country. The goal of the meetings was to provide a forum for the discussion of how to help unleash the power of manufacturing in the United States and to provide some clarification of the agenda that the industry should pursue. In Charlotte, N.C., Jay Timmons, president of the NAM, facilitated a discussion with three chief executive officers:

  • John Ferriola of Nucor
  • Judy Marks of Siemens North America
  • Dyke Messenger of Power Curbers   

Timmons set the stage by reviewing highlights of the current political landscape and the changes taking place inside the beltway:

  • A focus on regulations rolling back those that the administration considers onerous. According to the NAM, the average cost to comply with all the regulations currently on the docket amount to over $30,000 per employee.
  • The various proposed pipeline projects that have been stalled over the past few years appear to be moving forward.
  • Both tax reform and health care continue to take center stage as priorities for Congress and the administration.

As I listened to the panel, there were some clear points of interest expressed by the leaders who are all feeling confident about the future of their organizations. Specifically, they noted the following:

  • Marks noted that the United States needs to unleash the power of our resources and innovation. For example, she noted that with the development of new ways of extracting natural gas, we should be looking for ways to export this natural resource. In addition to expanding markets, which affects the U.S. economy, low cost natural gas can transform undeveloped countries. Old infrastructure investments don’t need to be updated, she says. According to Marks, new ways of distributing our products and resources can change the world.  
  • Messenger provided insight into the current state of manufacturing in the middle market. He noted that most companies are flow-through entities, so he is watching the efforts towards tax reform closely. Although the country remains ripe for investment due to our well-developed economy and attractive legal and regulatory structures, we can create opportunities for increased investment in equipment and jobs if the tax burden is reduced.
  • Ferriola pointed out that the details of trade policies are critical for manufacturers. Trade agreements should enable U.S. companies to compete on a level playing field rather than support the sale of subsidized products to the United States that have an advantage over goods produced domestically.  

RSM’s national manufacturing practice supports the creation of a “manufacturing economy” that harnesses the strengths of our innovation as well as our culture of reinvestment, one that pivots to create jobs and training so the United States can remain a worldwide manufacturing leader.

We don’t know what types of laws and regulations will play out in the coming year, but manufacturing appears poised for changes that will create opportunities. Manufacturing companies, investors and lenders need to closely watch what happens in Washington and be prepared to respond quickly and thoughtfully when changes occur. 

RSM’s Washington National Tax team, worldwide network and manufacturing practice leaders will keep you abreast of the changes and provide insights into how you can respond. 

If I can help or answer any questions, please let me know.  

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Steve Menaker 
National Manufacturing Practice Leader



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