Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What's Washington Doing These Days?

As you know, there's been a lot of drama in Washington recently around the federal budget, the debt ceiling and taxes -- all issues that one way or another can affect our industry.

Right through New Year's as the nation waited to see if we would jump off the fiscal cliff, NTMA's Washington advocacy team worked hard to protect our interests and ensure that important tax priorities for manufacturers did not get tossed out during negotiations.  Thanks to their hard work, our industry emerged from that first round of uncertainty in good shape.  The highlights that affect our companies include the following:

  • Estate Tax exemption of $5 million per individual/$10 million per family; excess taxed at 40% rate (this is indexed for inflation, meaning in 2020 the first $17 million per family is exempt);
  • Extension through 2013 of 50% Bonus Depreciation and flexibility to use AMT credits instead;
  • Extension for 2012 and 2013 of expanded Section 179 Expensing with $500,000 maximum amount and the $2 million phase-out threshold;
  • Extends R&D Tax Credit through 2013, making it retroactive to January 1, 2012 at 20% and 14% for the simplified credit;
  • Makes Section 127 Employer Education Assistance provision permanent.
Keep your seat belts fastened because there's more action to come -- whether we want it or not! 

The House of Representative today (January 23) approved a bill that would allow the debt ceiling to be raised for three months.  The bill is expected to pass the Senate and the President said that he would sign it, thus temporarily defusing an issue that could have developed into a crisis in the coming weeks.

Next up on Washington's agenda, severe budget cuts through sequestration that were kicked down the road at New Year's are scheduled for the end of February.  The federal government's budget expires on March 27th.  

As we face this series of deadlines, the continuing posturing on both sides of the aisle in Congress and at the White House is creating a lot of uncertainty around the country.  But NTMA's advocacy team will be right in the mix, fighting for both our short-term interests and longer term priorities, like pushing for a permanent and comprehensive overhaul to our tax system that treats small businesses fairly, and addressing the skills gap that is constraining our companies' ability to fill high-tech positions.

Don't lose hope -- Washington politics may not be pretty, but we're doing our best to look our for manufacturers!  We'll continue to keep you updated in the coming weeks on the issues that matter to you most.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Yes, Academia, There Really is a Skills Gap!

While politicians butt heads in Washington, it's important to remember that manufacturers are focused on keeping the economy moving, by running our businesses as best we can and addressing challenges to this growth such as the industry's skills shortage.

A couple of recent stories in the media highlight how seriously we at NTMA and our members around the country take these issues.  Matt Tyler of Vickers Engineering in New Troy, MI, appeared on CNBC to talk about the growth prospects for manufacturing in spite of the Washington political gamesmanship we're all enduring these days.  You can link to Matt's appearance here

Also, NTMA continues to stay focused on how to address the skills gap that is creating difficulty for manufacturers all around the country who seek qualified workers to fill high-skilled positions.  Recently in the media, a number of stories have been circulating suggesting that the skills gap does not really exist and that the problem instead relates to companies not paying enough to potential workers.

NTMA has been working hard to fight this misperception, put forward by academics like Peter Capelli at the Wharton School of Business.  As you can see in this story from a paper in Portland, Maine, the media is giving this narrative some attention -- and NTMA is fighting back.  We are reaching out to journalists to provide a more balanced view, and actively pushing for fresh stories that more fairly represent this issue.

There is a great deal of education to be done on this front both in Congress and in the media, but we think it's a fight worth having!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Plans Set for 2013 National Robotics League Championship

Mark your calendars for May 17-19, 2013, when one of the most innovative and fun annual events that NTMA supports -- the National Robotics League (NRL) finals -- takes place in Indianapolis.

The NRL allows middle school, high school and post-secondary school students to partner with NTMA member companies in their communities in order to build sophisticated, high-tech robots that do battle with one another inside a ring.  The competition stirs intense excitement among student competitors from across the country, who get the chance to apply their math skills to something that produces a tangible result.  In the bargain, they come to see manufacturing in an entirely different light.

NTMA founded the NRL to address two central challenges that U.S. manufacturing has been facing for years. The first involves the need to fill positions with workers that have the increasingly rare technical skills so many of our members are seeking. And the second is all about overcoming myths to reveal the reality that manufacturing is high-tech, exciting, financially rewarding ... and growing!

Past NRL competitions have been increasingly well attended, with students competing from all over the country.  This year, the competition is timed to closely coincide with the upcoming NTMA Purchasing Fair on May 16-17 at the JW Marriott Indianapolis.  So if you're already in the area, plan to come by to show your support for the students and for our industry!

If you want to stay in the loop about activities related to the NRL, you can click here to sign up for the monthly NRL newsletter to get updates on the competition (and, we promise, nothing else!).

Below: action shot from a past competition:

Friday, December 7, 2012

Out and About - Visit to NTMA Chapters and Members

One of the great strengths of joining NTMA is the ability you get to connect with fellow manufacturers, taking advantage of networking opportunities that can lead to new business, help you learn more about developments in our industry, or exchange thoughts about common challenges we face as small businesses today.

Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting our St. Louis Chapter, where I met with our members, was invited to take a number of plant tours, and connected with two new members, ALM Tech Group and AP Industries.  The photo below shows me swearing in the 2012-2013 Chapter Board of Directors.

Here's a link to a story about the visit with a couple of more photos....

Also, Bob Mosey, the president of Anaheim-CA based Mosey Production Machinists and who will be my successor as NTMA Chairman, recently visited the NTMA chapter in Connecticut - the Connecticut Tooling & Machining Association.  Our active Connecticut chapter has a tradition of inviting the incoming NTMA chair to their holiday party.  Bob (below left) was treated to a shop tour of East Hartford based Horst Engineering hosted by Horst’s President and CEO Scott Livingston (below middle) and Jim Bowtruczyk (below right), who also serves on CTMA's board.

Horst posted a piece about Bob's visit here.

It's great to keep connected with the chapters through these regularly scheduled NTMA events. There's no better way for us as as small businesses to thrive in the future than to stay in touch with each other and stay tuned to what's going on in our industry!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Congratulations to Jeff Kelly, Recipient of NTMA's L.A. Sommer Memorial Award

Our fall conference in Nashville produced a number of great discussions and good opportunities to network and learn more about our industry.  It also allowed us to recognize some of our members for what they have achieved professionally over the years.

Jeff Kelly, owner of Trafford, PA-based Hamill Manufacturing, was recognized with NTMA's most prestigious award: the "L.A. Sommer Memorial Award", which is given to members for their exceptional service, dedication and leadership in the industry.

Jeff is a former National Chairman of NTMA and member of the Executive Team.  He has been a leader on one of our industry's most pressing issues -- the need to find skilled workers to take on positions in our increasingly sophisticated industry.  Jeff launched an effort under the NTMA Government Affairs and Education Teams to seek multi-year federal funding for the development of recruiting and training centers in select NTMA chapter areas.  Initially names PJAM, for "Precision Jobs for American Manufacturing", the program later became known as AMPED, "Advanced Manufacturing Practices and Educational Development."

Jeff also stepped in when our association needed him most, serving as Interim CEO of NTMA for 3 years beginning in 2005 following the resignation of NTMA's president.  Jeff committed himself to making sure that our association had the leadership in place that it needed during this time, implementing numerous streamlining and cost saving initiatives while leading the search for a new association president.  Jeff currently servces on our Board of Trustees and on the NTMA Insurance and NTMF Boards.

The members of NTMA owe a great deal to Jeff for his commitment to both our association and our industry as a whole.  We are better off for his contributions, and our heartfelt gratitude goes out to Jeff in appreciation for all that he has accomplished.  Congratulations, Jeff!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Great Meeting in Nashville...and Don't Forget to Vote!

I want  to give a big thanks to everyone who was involved in making this year's Fall Conference in Nashville a big success!  We had excellent turnout both for the conference and the Contract Manufacturing Purchasing Fair that took place just beforehand.  Thanks to the terrific speakers, great discussions and networking events -- and the success of the Purchasing Fair itself -- this year's theme of "Transforming for Competitiveness" came through strongly throughout the week's events. 

I'd also like to salute NTMA member Herb Homeyer of Homeyer Tool and Die Co. in Marthasville, Missouri.  Herb was awarded the William E. Hardman Award for Excellence in Training for his "lifelong dedication to improving the quality of training and promoting career opportunities for young men and women in the precision custom manufacturing industry."  (See photo below.)  It's through the efforts of people like Herb that our industry is set to prosper going into the future.  Congratulations again, Herb!

Finally, as we look to Election Day next Tuesday, remember how important it is for us all to get involved.  As I've mentioned before, manufacturers and their families account for roughly seven percent of the voting age population in this election.  Our voices -- expressed by our ballots -- can make a big impact on the outcome of what looks to be a very close election.
For information about where the candidates stand on issues that are important to our industry, you can always visit our advocacy website at

And remember, whatever the outcome next week, NTMA will be fighting on your behalf in Washington, DC!

[Photo below: Roger Atkins, Dave Tilstone and William Hardman Award Winner Herb Homeyer on stage at the 2012 NTMA Fall Conference.]

Friday, October 5, 2012

Today is Manufacturing Day!

NTMA is proud to help sponsor today’s nationwide event, "Manufacturing Day".  With plant tours, career workshops and other events taking place at facilities across the U.S. today, our industry is generating much deserved attention throughout the country.

As many of us in the industry are aware, there is an abundance of promising career opportunities available in manufacturing today.  Thanks to Manufacturing Day, we are getting that word out to students, parents, educators, media, customers, suppliers and the communities at large in which our facilities provide essential jobs and economic activity.

NTMA is co-sponsoring “Manufacturing Day” with the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association (FMA), the U.S. Commerce Department’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), and the Manufacturing Institute. 

For more information, visit the Manufacturing Day website.

Hats off to those of you who’ve opened your doors, participated in events and helped raise the profile of our industry today!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Campaign Season Brings Candidates to Members' Facilities

This election season, manufacuturing is playing a prominent role in the campaign.  Candidates are increasingly focusing on the importance of making sure U.S. manufacturing remains strong, and issues such as tax reform, regulations, international trade and job training pop up on the campaign trail every day.  NTMA members have often been tapped to host elected officials and political candidates from both parties for plant tours throughout the year. 
Recently, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney visited PR Machine Works in Ontario, Ohio, a key battleground state in the presidential election.  Gov. Romney's visit marks the fourth time an NTMA member has hosted a presidential candidate in Ohio in just the past three months.
Owners Zoi and Mark Romanchuk actively support NTMA's advocacy initiatives in Washington to urge elected officials to strengthen American manufacturing.  Zoi is a former NTMA Government Affairs Committee Chair, and Mark not only plays an important role in NTMA’s advocacy efforts, but has taken matters into his own hands by running for State Representative in Ohio’s 2nd District.
Roughly 2,500 people assembled at PR Machine Works to hear Gov. Romney outline his plan for the manufacturing sector by reforming health care, focusing on energy independence, increasing access to skilled training programs, curtailing unfair trade practices and cutting the federal budget deficit.  Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH) and other officials were also present.
Events like these show NTMA's growing influence as the face of small and medium-sized manufacturing in America.  Our voices are growing stronger thanks to our members! 
As November 6 draws near, keep in mind that manufacturers and their families make up roughly seven percent of the voting age population this time around.  If just half of us vote, our ballots alone could help shape the outcome of this election.
To learn more about where the candidates stand on issues important to manufacturers and how to get involved in the election, remember to visit our new advocacy website at
(Above photo: Mitt Romney speaks at PR Machine Works; Below: Mark Romanchuk talks to Sen. Portman and Gov. Romney.)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Congrats to John Haake of Titanova Inc.

Congrats to NTMA member John Haake, President of St.Louis-based Titanova, Inc., for receiving the 2012 Missouri “Entrepreneur of the Year Award”.  John was given the award at the Governor’s Conference on Economic Development, hosted by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon.  

The Missouri “Entrepreneur of the Year” award is given to a company executive who demonstrates significant leadership in launching a new business, creating jobs through an innovative business concept, or developing a new technology or adopting an innovative manufacturing process.  The company must have fewer than 100 employees. 

The award cited John’s ability to develop and continually adapt “a high technology-based business plan to move his company into new applications and new markets.” 

NTMA is proud of John Haake and the many members like him whose innovative spirit provides jobs and helps fuel our country's economic growth.  Congratulations John!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Manufacturing Day Is Coming October 5th

NTMA is proud to be a sponsor of "Manufacturing Day", which will be celebrated nationally on October 5th, 2012.  The initiative aims to help promote our industry to Americans while publicizing the many promising career opportunities that exist in manufacturing.

NTMA is co-sponsoring “Manufacturing Day” with the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association (FMA), the U.S. Commerce Department’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), and the Manufacturing Institute.

On October 5th, participating facilities all around the country will open their doors to interested members of the public, conducting tours, career workshops and other events designed to raise the profile of our industry, showcasing its reach into communities throughout the U.S. and highlighting today's increasingly sophisticated and technology-driven career opportunities.

Word about "Manufacturing Day" is starting to get around, with organizations like NTMA putting out press releases about the event and the media beginning to take notice

Keep an eye out for more news about Manufacturing Day and consider getting involved -- it could be good for your company and good for our industry!