by Gary Weldon (Staub Manufacturing Solutions)
One who knows and cares about the challenges of the small business owner who must navigate through global competition and local bureaucracy, governmental apathy and a shrinking workforce.
One who understands the importance of manufacturing to the local, state and national economy. Who sees that while the technology has changed, the need to be able to produce goods domestically is just as important today as it ever has been.
What we don't need is more of the same. Those who view manufacturing as a relic, a period in time that has passed, and feel that we have moved on to better things... like all working at Walmart or standing in an unemployment line.
Ohio Treasurer and U.S. Senate Candidate Josh Mandel spoke to the local manufacturers association in Dayton, Ohio, the DRMA, last week. For those that I spoke with ahead of his speech, expectations were low . Some didn't know who he was or even recognize his name. Others, including myself, expected a typical stump - a bright smile, a platitude, a patronizing story and a lot of hot air. For what could a young (only 34) numbers-guy politician really know about our established blue collar industry?
The room of about one hundred listened respectfully as Treas. Mandel joked about his age and told of his military and public service. It yawned when he spoke of Washington's need to tighten it's belt if the American people are having to.
The room grew more attentive, though, as Treas. Mandel condemned government efforts to vilify success and continued by saying that, "you can't be pro-jobs and anti-employer". He explained his position that agencies such as the BWC and the EPA were to only provide rails to guide, not walls to hinder. He also stated that the government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers.
But when he spoke of the well being of U.S. manufacturing as not only a critical economic concern, but a national security issue, the room fell silent. He said the strength of America has been and still is the ability to make things.
He continued, "75% of the state of Ohio does not have a college degree... and that's OK. We need folks that get their hands dirty, that make things with their hands."
Did a politician really just say that?
For too many years there has been a large chasm between the reality of manufacturing and the view of our industry from inside the halls of Congress. Few have even made the effort to give us lip service, let alone support. Meanwhile, we have continued on, enduring hardship and abandonment, while getting leaner and more productive.
The time has arrived for that to change. Manufacturers here in the Dayton region and throughout Ohio are hungry for a Champion, someone to defend our way of life, our values and our livelihood. Someone who will hear the cries for help from the business owner and the worker. Someone who will not only hear, but offer effective solutions to our very real problems and challenges.
Could this fresh-faced warrior, Josh Mandel, be such a man? A manufacturing proponent, supporter, defender and advocate? Will he bravely battle the national establishment for us, our industry?
We sure could use someone like that.