Tax

Policy and Legal

N.C. Family-owned Manufacturer Has Best Year Yet

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Ketchie, a 71-year-old family-owned machine shop based in Concord, N.C., is thriving, thanks to the benefits of tax reform.

Company president Courtney Ketchie Silver is quick to note that tax reform made a transformative impact on its business.

“Because of tax reform, our customers are expanding,” Silver explained. “They’re investing in new equipment, they’re expanding their shopfloors. There’s a general level of confidence, and that’s resulting in increased demand for Ketchie’s products.”

In fact, 2018 turned out to be Ketchie’s best year yet in its seven-decade history. 2018 sales increased a whopping 25 percent year over year.

“Because of this huge demand, Ketchie was able to make a number of capital investments,” Silver said. Overall, Ketchie pumped nearly $500,000 into capital equipment last year, which will help the company continue to meet demand for years to come.

The increased investment led to a hiring boom as well. In 2018, Ketchie expanded its workforce by 20 percent, with all new hiring taking place on the shopfloor rather than in the back office. That sort of single-year growth “has never happened before,” explained Silver. “Employees are excited to see the company grow.”

Existing employees are also benefitting through pay raises and quarterly bonuses. In order to continue to develop their employees, the company has worked with the local community college and has been the recipient of grant funding from the state of North Carolina. Ketchie has also joined the North Carolina Manufacturing Institute to promote manufacturing and help match individuals and employers in the area.

“As we’ve seen for the past year and a half since its enactment, tax reform is giving businesses the ability to reinvest in and expand their operations, and manufacturers are leading the way in this effort,” said Chris Netram, NAM vice president of tax and domestic economic policy, said. “Manufacturers have reported record levels of optimism for nine consecutive quarters in our Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey, and, through increased spending and investment, that optimism is helping fuel our entire economy.”

“It’s such a change from 2008, 2009,” agreed Silver, referring to 2019’s booming economic climate. “For the first time since then, people are confident. And their actions are following that confidence. Overall, I have a positive outlook for the year.”

Policy and Legal

Treasury Rule Bodes Well for Manufacturers

The proposed regulations provide much-needed certainty.

Manufacturers scored a significant victory with the Treasury Department’s new proposed tax regulations, which would help implement the pro-growth intent of tax reform and save manufacturers from unintended U.S. tax on high-taxed foreign earnings.

Prior to passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the high U.S. corporate tax rate discouraged companies from bringing their foreign earnings back to the United States. Tax reform moved the U.S. toward a territorial system, which allows businesses to bring foreign earnings back to the United States without an additional layer of U.S. tax. To make sure companies still paid some tax, however, the law also created a provision called Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income, essentially imposing a minimum 13.125 percent tax on foreign earnings.

While the move was intended to target low-taxed foreign income, the way the provision interacts with current international tax rules means that some manufacturers can be subject to U.S. tax on foreign earnings that are already taxed above 13.125 percent—effectively removing the upper limit that Congress envisioned and making the backstop largely meaningless. Manufacturers have repeatedly called on Treasury to integrate the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and the existing tax system in a manner that achieves congressional intent.

“While there’s still work to be done, there’s no doubt that Treasury’s proposal is an important step in the right direction,” said NAM Vice President of Tax and Domestic Economic Policy Chris Netram.

“Congress intended to make it easier for manufacturers operating globally to reinvest their foreign earnings in jobs, in equipment and in infrastructure in the U.S.,” said Netram. “The proposed regulations provide much-needed certainty on the reach of this provision.”

This new proposed rule, coming after more than a year of hard-fought advocacy by the NAM, partially alleviates the burden through a high-tax exception companies can opt into. The elective high-tax exception offers companies with high-taxed foreign income the ability to avoid paying additional U.S. tax provided that the foreign tax rate is greater than 18.9 percent.

While higher than the intended 13.125 percent rate, the elective 18.9 percent rate still provides meaningful relief for manufacturers operating around the world, offering additional certainty and a chance to invest in further growth.

“This is an important positive development in moving closer to the intent of Congress and in allowing manufacturers to support their workers, grow their businesses and contribute to the American economy,” said Netram.

News

Kansas Manufacturer Doubles Its Workforce

"We need laws, like tax reform, that can drive economic growth and drive business.”

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Ferroloy worker uses equipment.

Ferroloy, a Kansas-based small business that manufactures ductile and gray iron castings, was once on the verge of bankruptcy. But with the help of tax reform, they have doubled the size of their workforce and are in the process of dramatically expanding their facilities.

Mark Soucie, Ferroloy president and owner, bought the company back in 2017 when it had just 20 employees. The business was struggling to break even due to the collapse of the agricultural market, in which most of their customers were involved. Soucie and his team spent much of 2017 stabilizing Ferroloy. It became quickly evident, however, that the supercharged economy could deliver big gains.

“We could tell in early 2018 that activity was picking up, so we added a second shift and more than doubled our workforce by the end of the year,” Soucie explained.

“Now we are in the early stages of adding over 12,000 square feet to our facilities so that we can de-bottleneck the foundry, increase the size of the company’s machine shop and build an in-house pattern shop, which will allow the company to save money while also adding more jobs to their growing workforce,” Soucie said.

Soucie cited tax reform as a significant driver in allowing Ferroloy’s expansion plans to move faster than they otherwise would. More importantly, tax reform has ushered in the strongest economy in more than a decade, which is impacting Ferroloy by increasing demand for their products.

“To me, tax reform is an opportunity to level the playing field,” Soucie explained. “Large businesses have a significant competitive advantage due to scale and capability relative to smaller businesses. Over 50 percent of our working population is employed in small businesses. If you want small businesses to grow and prosper in this country, we need laws, like tax reform, that can drive economic growth and drive business.”

In Soucie’s eyes, keeping tax reform on the books is a no-brainer.

“I don’t understand why some people in Washington want to roll back something that allows small businesses to compete,” Soucie added. “Maybe it’s me being politically naïve, but economically, tax reform that allows small businesses to compete just makes sense.”

2018 was a record-setting year, as manufacturers reported the highest levels of optimism in the 20-year history of the NAM’s Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey.

“With tools like tax reform and regulatory certainty, manufacturing is thriving – and manufacturers are paying it forward,” Chris Netram, NAM vice president of tax and domestic economic policy, said. “Across the country, manufacturers small and large are hiring new employees, expanding operations, raising wages, improving benefits and more. Tax reform has fueled manufacturing, and the industry is propelling the American economy.”

Demystifying Data

Tax Reform Repeal Would Lead To Lost Jobs, Wages in U.S. Manufacturing

NAM survey data suggests repealing tax reform would strike a major blow to manufacturing jobs, wages and investments.

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While some politicians in Washington and presidential candidates across the country are openly discussing rolling back key parts of the historic tax reform bill signed into law back in 2017, the National Association of Manufacturers’ latest survey data paints an alarming picture of the impact such a move would have on the U.S. economy and the manufacturing industry in particular.

According to the NAM’s Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey from first quarter of 2019, two thirds (66 percent) of manufacturers would be forced to consider cutting back investments in the United States if Congress rolled back portions of the tax reform bill, while 62 percent would scale back projected growth in wages and bonuses. Meanwhile, more than half (54 percent) would cut back on hiring.

“These are scary numbers,” Chris Netram, NAM’s Vice President of Tax and Domestic Economic Policy, said.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act took the U.S. tax code from one of the least competitive among advanced economies to “just about average,” Netram said. “Backsliding to uncompetitive rates and policies tells companies that operate in a global supply chain that the U.S. is not open for business. It will force them to look elsewhere.”

“Long term, the global economy will still continue to grow,” Netram said. “But the United States won’t capture as much of it.”

Because taxes are a fixed cost in any investment, raising taxes drives the required rate of return on any investment even higher, raising the threshold for what would make an investment profitable and changing the calculus for businesses planning future investments in equipment and employees.

Small manufacturers have benefited from tax reform’s provision allowing for a 20 percent deduction of “pass-through” small business income. While much of the discussion in Washington has focused on the corporate tax rate, far more manufacturers file as pass-through businesses, meaning smaller firms would bear the brunt of a full tax reform repeal.

“The number of pass-throughs dwarfs the number of corporate filers,” Netram said. “If you were looking to harm small manufacturers, reducing or repealing the pass through deduction is how you’d do it. That’s one thing that’s so alarming about what some leaders are talking about in Washington.”

The NAM has conducted its quarterly Outlook Survey since 1997. Last year’s aggregated results found the most optimistic reading among U.S. manufacturers in the survey’s history, with respondents crediting the tax reform bill as a major factor. A similar survey from 2018 found huge majorities were planning to increase investments, hiring and wages due to the tax law. Meanwhile, job growth in the industry in 2018 was the fastest in more than twenty years.

“Adopting a more competitive tax system has boosted the industry,” Netram said. “Rolling back the benefits of tax reform would make it more difficult to further grow our thriving American manufacturing sector.”

News

Maryland Manufacturer to Increase Hiring, Invest

Maryland’s Marlin Steel Wire Products has long been a leader in its industry—and, because of tax reform, it plans to bring new jobs to its Baltimore facility and invest in the latest technology that will keep it ahead of the competition.“From the moment tax reform was announced, Marlin Steel decided we’re all in,” said Marlin Steel President and Owner Drew Greenblatt. “We knew the economy would crank up and that there would be optimism—but it was like a gun shot off.”

First on the docket? Investing in the latest technology, to increase efficiency and help Marlin Steel meet skyrocketing demand for its products.

“We’ve reconfigured our factory and bought six robots from Arkansas, Ohio and Minnesota,” said Greenblatt. “We largely buy products that are made in America—American robots, American steel.”

Marlin Steel’s new technology includes a 121-ton stamping press from Ohio, which was delivered in July, as well as a robotic threader from Chicago, which was delivered at the end of August.

“Every order for new technology went out because I trusted that House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump would come through on their tax reform promises,” Greenblatt added. “And they did.”

In fact, Marlin Steel invested in so much new technology that it had to bring in a utility company to run new wires throughout its facility—adding seven and a half times the maximum power so it could handle the latest equipment.

Adding new equipment to deal with rising demand also means hiring new employees. Marlin Steel plans to increase dramatically the size of its staff by more than 20 percent. Many of these employees are formerly unemployed steelworkers from Baltimore—and Greenblatt takes special pride in helping them reenter the workforce.

“We’re helping bring people in Baltimore back into the middle class,” he said. “That’s what this is all about. We’re giving our employees the extraordinary tools they need to run circles around other countries, to make them more productive than workers in other countries.”

Already, Marlin Steel’s investment in productivity is helping bring business back from overseas. Greenblatt explained that a big customer recently closed a factory in India and moved those 15 product lines to Marlin Steel’s Baltimore facility—specifically because of Marlin Steel’s superior efficiency and quality.

“Suddenly, the U.S. is competitive again,” said Greenblatt. “We’re so enthusiastic about the future opportunities we have, thanks to tax reform.”

News

Huntington Ingalls Gives Bonuses to 40,000 Workers

Huntington Ingalls Industries—the largest military shipbuilder in the United States—is planning a “generational” investment in its business and its employees, thanks to tax reform.“When tax reform came around, we knew we wanted to reinvest in our business,” explained Bill Ermatinger, executive vice president and chief human resources officer at Huntington Ingalls. “We put it on a whiteboard to see who our stakeholders were, and we came up with four: employees, customers, communities and shareholders.”

Huntington Ingalls set out to do just that. First on the agenda? Rewarding its nearly 40,000 employees in shipyards across the country.

“We decided our employees would benefit most from an immediate cash bonus,” said Ermatinger. “Every single employee received $500. That’s a lot of money. We got hugely positive feedback from our employees. One of our hourly employees at our Pascagoula, Mississippi, shipyard said, ‘I’ve been hearing about ‘trickle-down economics’ for years. And finally, something trickled down!’”

Huntington Ingalls also made a significant incremental contribution to its pension fund—adding $200 million—as a way of providing for its employees’ futures. While many pension funds across the nation face insolvency, Huntington Ingalls is well funded.

“We built upon what we’ve already been doing,” said Ermatinger. “We invest $100 million in workforce development and $40 million in educational reimbursement each year so we can invest in our employees.” Our employees and our customers will also benefit from what Huntington Ingalls dubbed a “generational capital infusement” in its facilities.

Before tax reform, the shipbuilder had planned to increase capital spending by $1.5 billion by 2020. But now, the company has upped that number by a whopping $300 million—to $1.8 billion. That means more jobs being created—and it will also help U.S. taxpayers, because savings will be passed along to Huntington Ingalls’ client: the U.S. Navy.

Huntington Ingalls also plans to increase dramatically the amount of money it spends in its communities. In fact, because of tax reform, the company has tripled its corporate giving.

“We decided we needed to make an investment in the communities we live in,” said Ermatinger. “Even for the people who don’t work for us.”

“Whether it be United Way, the Boys and Girls Club, the food bank, the Red Cross—you name it,” said Ermatinger. “If Huntington Ingalls is in the community, they saw a benefit.”

Huntington Ingalls’ significant investments in workers, facilities and communities comes as a direct result of tax reform.

“Because of tax reform, we’re able to do a heck of a lot more than we thought we would,” said Ermatinger. “I can assure you: without tax reform, most of these things would not have been possible.”

“I am always asked: Are you going to make these kind of huge investments every year? And my answer is, we don’t know what the future holds, but we already have made these commitments that far exceed HII’s tax-reform benefits beyond one year.”

Press Releases

Timmons Delivers 2019 NAM State of Manufacturing Address in Houston

Keynote Speech Emphasized the Next Frontier of Manufacturing and Underscored Need to Fill Significant Manufacturing Skills Gap

Washington, D.C. – National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons delivered the fifth-annual NAM State of Manufacturing 2019 Address today at Lone Star College – North Harris in Houston, Texas. Timmons addressed Lone Star students, veterans, business leaders and local manufacturers and highlighted the industry’s optimism for the future, manufacturing’s high-tech, innovative nature and the urgent need to recruit the next generation of manufacturers. He also touched on top policy priorities for manufacturers.

Manufacturing is an engine of job creation. It is the source of America’s strength. And what is the state of modern manufacturing in America? Today, manufacturing in America is on the rise. Tax reform was the rocket fuel it was promised to be, and it’s helping us to climb higher and faster than almost anyone thought possible in this century, said Timmons.

Today, people in manufacturing are using technologies that most Americans couldn’t have imagined a few years ago—artificial intelligence, augmented reality. We don’t just have robots; we have ‘co-bots,’ machines that work in tandem with you. And you have manufacturers trying to figure out how quantum computing could revolutionize logistics.

Timmons highlighted the strength of manufacturing in Texas and the job opportunities available to students. He also emphasized the policy solutions that manufacturers want to see from lawmakers—with a focus on a U.S.–China trade deal, approval of the U.S.–Mexico–Canada Agreement, infrastructure investment and meaningful immigration reform. Timmons touted “A Way Forward,” the NAM’s recently released plan for a comprehensive, legislative immigration solution.

To read the full the address, click here.

Technology has transformed our industry. It’s created incredible opportunities. And as we journey further into this new frontier, we want you to be a part of it, Timmons concluded.

Following the address, Timmons toured Lone Star College’s energy, manufacturing and construction workforce program labs, where he met students and talked with them about their trade skill education.

Carolyn Lee, executive director of The Manufacturing Institute, the NAM’s education and workforce partner, continued the tour in Houston at the Microsoft Technology Center with a Heroes MAKE America class from Fort Hood. Heroes MAKE America is The Manufacturing Institute’s career skills program that aims to support transitioning service members with in-demand qualifications and industry-specific certifications needed for today’s manufacturing workforce.

One of our missions here at Lone Star College-North Harris to ensure our students are prepared for the workforce and the promising opportunities in the manufacturing sector, said Dr. Gerald Fernandez Napoles, president of Lone Star College – North Harris. We’re proud to welcome the National Association of Manufacturers and to help tell the story of the rewarding opportunities in manufacturing. Our energy, manufacturing and construction workforce programs are empowering Texans every day to build meaningful careers.

Lee and the Heroes class also toured BP’s Upstream Learning Center with American Petroleum Institute President and CEO Mike Sommers, where they spoke to BP employees about the NAM’s Heroes MAKE America program. Lee ended the day at Bimbo Bakeries for a facility tour.

Manufacturing is vital to the strong Texas economy, said Jeff Moseley, president and CEO of the Texas Association of Business. Today’s event captured the diversity of Texas manufacturers and the ways our technology is transforming the industry and the industry is transforming lives for the better. Modern manufacturing creates good jobs, drives investment and exports and contributes enormously to our local economies. In fact, the Texas manufacturing industry employs around 896,000 Texans and contributes about $226 billion to our state economy. We need to ensure this industry has the tools, and workforce, to continue leading Texas forward.

For the past five years, the annual NAM State of Manufacturing Tour has focused the nation’s attention on the industry that is the backbone of the American economy, highlighting the more than 12.8 million men and women who are building our future and solving tomorrow’s challenges today. The tour has traveled the country, bringing policy discussions and conversations about the future of work in the manufacturing industry to shop floors, schools, economic clubs, television studios, the White House and more.

This year’s tour will spotlight the industry’s next frontier, while also focusing on manufacturing’s well-paying careers, the industry’s diverse workforce and the policy solutions that are essential for manufacturing’s continued growth.

Members of the media interested in covering the tour should contact mfgtour@nam.org. To learn more about the NAM State of Manufacturing Tour 2019, click here.

-NAM- 

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12 million men and women, contributes $2.25 trillion to the U.S. economy annually, has the largest economic impact of any major sector and accounts for more than three-quarters of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the Manufacturers or to follow us on Shopfloor, Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Press Releases

Timmons: Proxy Advisory Firms Pose Threat to Main Street Investors

Excerpts from The Hill

By: NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons

December 12, 2018

“. . . Today, institutional investors—including the brokerages and money managers that maintain Americans’ retirement accounts—control nearly 80 percent of the stocks and equities traded on U.S. exchanges.

“With such large stakes in American businesses, they have a big say in corporate decision-making and governance when a vote is put before shareholders. They often turn to outside advisers, called proxy advisory firms, to guide those decisions.

“Seeking outside advice makes sense, but many of the practices of these proxy advisory firms do not. That can lead them to give advice that isn’t in the best interest of a company, which in turn harms a Main Street investor saving for retirement.

. . .

“[S]ome proxy firm reports have been found to be riddled with errors. They can get basic facts about a company wrong—and some won’t even let companies correct those errors without paying a fee, if at all.

. . .

“In addition, proxy advisory firms often have conflicts of interest and can let views of political activists on issues unrelated to a company’s business color their recommendations.

“Such conflicts lead to advice—sometimes ultimatums—that could harm a company’s growth, which, again, is why Americans invest in the stock market in the first place. They want those companies, and therefore their savings, to grow.

“With all this power, proxy advisory firms should be subject to reasonable government oversight.

. . .

“And why do manufacturers care? First, we employ more than 12.5 million people, two-thirds of whom participate in a workplace retirement plan. We want manufacturing workers to have confidence that their retirement savings are going to help them achieve the retirement they hope to have.

“Second, the capital raised through the stock market helps manufacturers grow right here in America. It means jobs. It means investments in communities. It means new factories and new equipment.

“To develop life-changing products and technologies, manufacturers must invest in expensive research and development. A well-functioning stock market allows manufacturers to finance this growth.

“Proxy advisory firms can influence money managers’ decisions about a manufacturing company’s governance. If they are giving bad advice, bad decisions will be made.

. . .

“It is time for the SEC to act . . .”

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12 million men and women, contributes $2.25 trillion to the U.S. economy annually, has the largest economic impact of any major sector and accounts for more than three-quarters of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the Manufacturers or to follow us on Shopfloor, Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Press Releases

SEC Forum Shows Risk of Proxy Advisory Firms to Main Street Investors

Washington, D.C. – National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement after the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) roundtable on the proxy process, which included a discussion of the role that proxy advisory firms play in the market and their impact on Main Street investors:

It is an encouraging sign that the SEC’s roundtable focused on the risks that proxy advisory firms pose for Americans’ retirement savings. Now manufacturers hope to see concrete action from the SEC to ensure that these firms do not undermine the retirement security of millions of Americans, including manufacturing workers. Main Street investors, retirees and pensioners deserve the peace of mind that comes from knowing that key decisions affecting their savings are based on accurate advice that is free from conflicts of interest. Manufacturers look forward to engaging with the SEC as it works toward bringing much-needed transparency to this critical component of the financial system. Given the stakes for manufacturers and manufacturing workers, the time to act is now.

The NAM has continued to ramp up its advocacy in favor of reforming the proxy process and instituting oversight of proxy advisory firms. The NAM applauded the SEC’s decision in September to withdraw guidance that had entrenched and empowered proxy advisory firms. In October, the NAM submitted technical comments to the SEC outlining manufacturers’ desired policy outcomes from the Commission’s proxy process roundtable. And last week, the NAM and U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched a nearly $1 million national print and digital advertising campaign outlining the risks proxy advisory firms pose to American workers’ retirement savings.

-NAM-

 The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12 million men and women, contributes $2.25 trillion to the U.S. economy annually, has the largest economic impact of any major sector and accounts for more than three-quarters of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the Manufacturers or to follow us on Shopfloor, Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Press Releases

SEC Ruling Puts Manufacturers First

Washington, D.C. – National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) decision to withdraw 2004 no-action letters on proxy firms:

The SEC’s action today is a major victory for manufacturers and Main Street investors. For far too long, proxy advisory firms have exerted undue influence over manufacturing companies, trying to force business decisions without any regard to investors’ best interests. This is a threat not only to manufacturing growth, but also to the savings of millions of American workers. The SEC has taken an important step to fix this unfairness, and we encourage them to continue working to ensure the voices of Main Street investors are not drowned out by third parties who have little stake in a company’s success. Manufacturers support increased SEC oversight over proxy advisory firms to restore fairness to the system.

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12 million men and women, contributes $2.25 trillion to the U.S. economy annually, has the largest economic impact of any major sector and accounts for more than three-quarters of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the Manufacturers or to follow us on Shopfloor, Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

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