Business Operations

Rethink Presents Lessons for Manufacturing Leaders

Are you grappling with the fast pace of competition in manufacturing? Are you working to keep up with the massive amount of disruption brought on by artificial intelligence, advanced robotics and digital breakthroughs? Are you racing to create new competitive advantages by using the power of Manufacturing 4.0—the next wave of industrial progress based on digitization?

The NAM has you covered with Rethink: The Manufacturing Leadership Council Summit, on June 22–24.

What it is: Rethink is the premier conference on Manufacturing 4.0 for industry leaders as they continue to navigate disruption. Hosted by the Manufacturing Leadership Council—a member-driven, global business leadership network dedicated to senior executives in the manufacturing industry—the summit offers participants strategies and solutions that are designed to advance their operations and improve their competitiveness.

Why it matters: The COVID-19 pandemic supercharged some of the changes that were already occurring in the manufacturing industry. Across the past year, businesses have seen an even greater need for flexibility, agility and speed in operations, and many manufacturers have accelerated their adoption of digital technologies to achieve these goals.

What it includes: The summit will offer a wide range of informative conversations with next-generation leaders and experts. A few elements include the following:

  • Case study sessions showcasing real-world examples of advanced manufacturing technologies in action—from efforts to transform legacy facilities into smart factories, to the role of analytics in digital transformation, to the growth of robotics in manufacturing and logistics. By hearing from manufacturing leaders who have taken on these challenges, executives can learn best practices and gain new ideas for their own companies.
  • “Think tank” sessions that will allow participants to ask questions and share ideas about advanced manufacturing technology. These conversations will include discussions of topics like quantum computing, manufacturing execution systems, augmented and virtual reality, blockchain, edge computing and sustainability.

The big difference: Most importantly, Rethink gives participants the chance to learn from other manufacturing executives and experts. Many of the industry’s most forward-thinking leaders will collaborate at this summit to make manufacturing better and stronger.

Check it out: Click here for more information and to register for the summit.

Policy and Legal

NAM Lays Out ESG Disclosure Priorities

Get the Latest News

Get Involved

Across the country, manufacturers are deeply involved in efforts to improve their climate stewardship and take action on a wide range of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. Manufacturers are leaders in everything from combatting climate change to enhancing diversity and inclusion in the workforce—and in ensuring that investors understand everything that goes into this critical work.

Recently, the Securities and Exchange Commission began considering a disclosure framework that could require companies to provide standardized information on their climate and ESG commitments. The agency has opened a comment period to receive public input on what the framework could include, and the NAM is making sure that manufacturers’ voices are heard.

NAM Senior Director of Tax and Domestic Economic Policy Charles Crain recently spoke to us about this issue, describing manufacturers’ priorities and concerns. Here’s what you need to know.

The challenge: Many companies already voluntarily disclose a great deal of information about their climate and ESG efforts—both because they are proud of the work they do, and because they believe it’s important for investors to have all the information available, Crain says. However, a one-size-fits-all SEC mandate could create more problems than it solves by imposing costly or overly broad requirements that do not provide useful information to shareholders.

Our move: This week, the NAM laid out the manufacturing industry’s perspective for the SEC, including a list of principles that should guide the agency’s decision-making. Those principles include the following:

  • Materiality: The NAM believes that companies should be required to disclose information only if it is material to their business—that is, company-specific, relevant, useful information that would change a reasonable investor’s view of a company.
  • Flexibility: Different items are material for different companies. Disclosures shouldn’t be one-size-fits all, but should instead include the kind of company-specific information that will reflect the diversity of risks and opportunities that businesses face and thus be useful to investors.
  • Clarity and comparability: The current lack of standardization can create costs and uncertainty for both companies and investors. Within a flexible, materiality-driven framework, the SEC can enhance the clarity and comparability of climate and ESG information disclosed by businesses.
  • Limiting company costs and liability: New SEC mandates shouldn’t overburden companies with high costs or a strict liability burden—both of which could result in limited or boilerplate reporting that isn’t useful to investors. Many of companies’ climate and ESG goals are aspirational and rely on evolving reporting methodologies, and the SEC shouldn’t disincentivize aggressive goal-setting on these issues.
  • Appropriate scope and reasonable timelines: The data the SEC is describing isn’t just sitting on the shelf. In order to disclose climate and ESG information under a new framework, many companies could have to build out data collection infrastructure, go deep into the supply chain, and get information through standardized methodologies that may not currently exist. This process will be time-consuming and difficult, and the SEC will need to tailor any requirements accordingly and give companies time to adapt.
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel: Many companies are already disclosing climate and ESG information based on existing methodologies, and there are plenty of third-party standards for reporting this data. Rather than starting from scratch, any SEC framework should align with existing practices that many companies are already using.

Next steps: The SEC will consider the NAM’s recommendations, along with other feedback, as it works toward a potential rule proposal—and the NAM will continue to engage with the SEC throughout the process.

Press Releases

Manufacturers Grateful for Administration’s Emphasis on Strengthening Critical Supply Chains

Washington, D.C. – National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement after the Biden administration’s completion of their 100-day review assessing vulnerabilities in, and strengthening the resilience of, critical supply chains.

“Our industry is grateful for the administration’s continued focus on investments in manufacturing in America. Ramping up production in the United States is one of the key ways we alleviate the supply chain challenges that have been affecting our industry and all American families.

“Succeeding in a global economy also requires the ability to manufacture where customers are; after all, 95% of customers live outside of the United States. The NAM has been leading on supply chain issues, providing initial recommendations for policymakers back in spring 2020. We look forward to working with the administration and learning more about these specific proposals while also continuing our work to ensure we maintain a business climate in the United States that attracts investment and promotes growth and job creation.”

Background:

In May 2020, the NAM released a detailed agenda of policy recommendations to strengthen the manufacturing supply chain in America.

In February 2021, President Biden signed E.O. 14017 directing his administration to conduct a 100-day review of, and address vulnerabilities in, America’s critical supply chains.

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers 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 12.3 million men and women, contributes $2.35 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for 63% 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 NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Policy and Legal

“If Taxes Go Up, I Have Fewer Choices,” Says Manufacturing CEO

Klaussner Home Furnishings has made three increases in its workers’ wages over the past 10 months, while also adding benefits. Yet, the company’s ability to invest in workers and add much-needed equipment may be in danger if Congress proceeds with proposed tax hikes, according to President and CEO Terry McNew. These increases could do real harm to manufacturers at a time when the economy is starting to recover from the pandemic.

Benefits for workers: McNew, who has led Klaussner for about a year and a half, explains that he’s working hard to take the company from the 19th century to the 21st century—“skipping over the 20th,” he says—by eliminating the use of piecework and ensuring that all current workers have full 40-hour workweeks.

  • That transition included the wage increases mentioned above, as well as an expansion of benefits, such as a reduction in health insurance deductibles and the addition of mental and behavioral health benefits.
  • “If taxes go up, I have fewer choices,” says McNew. “I’ll have even more limited resources” for raises and other benefits.

Facility expansion: McNew also credits tax reform with helping Klaussner improve its facilities and buy much-needed equipment.

  • Late last year, the company installed new roofs, and it is currently in the market for new sewing machines. Its new CIO is looking to invest in enterprise resource planning and materials requirements planning software, which will cost about $5 million.
  • McNew says these plans were made possible by a tax provision called full expensing, which allows companies to deduct the full cost of capital expenditures in a single year.

The economic context: McNew points out that manufacturers are dealing with a number of difficulties right now, including higher materials and shipping costs, which are amplifying their worries about potential tax changes.

  • In light of all these factors, McNew says, “I told my executive staff we are not getting raises this year, but instead giving raises to employees.”

The last word: NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons said, “As we emerge from the economic catastrophe caused by COVID-19, American businesses are at a pivotal point in our nation’s history. Manufacturers like Klaussner are helping to lead the economic recovery in the wake of the pandemic. But increasing the tax burden on companies in America would mean fewer American jobs, lower wages and a smaller economy.”

Policy and Legal

How to Talk to Vaccine-Hesitant Workers

Get the Latest News

Sign up here

 

Now that all American adults are eligible for vaccination and largely have easy access to vaccines, it’s even more important to convince those still on the fence about getting their shots. To help manufacturers convince their hesitating employees, The Manufacturing Institute has partnered, as a part of the “This Is Our Shot” project, with the Center for Public Interest Communications at the University of Florida on a research study about hesitancy and how manufacturers can overcome it.

The big idea: The study aimed to identify strategies that manufacturers can use to increase vaccine confidence among their teams, according to Matt Sheehan and Annie Neimand, managing director and research director, respectively, at the Center. It took a wide-ranging approach, applying social science to this public health problem and looking for evidence-based strategies that employers could put into practice right away.

Why it matters: According to the team, vaccine hesitancy can be driven by a range of factors, including a lack of access to vaccination opportunities, uncertainty about the process of getting inoculated or incorrect or confusing information. Those different motivations can be countered by different approaches, the researchers advise. Understanding where people are coming from makes it easier to give them the support they need.

What we learned: The study arrived at five steps that will help encourage manufacturing workers to get vaccinated:

  • Communicate from a place of trust. To be effective, manufacturing leaders should communicate frequently and transparently about vaccination policies and vaccination rates within the facility. Vaccination goals, too, should be focused on the facility.
  • Help remove barriers to getting the vaccine. Employers should make it easy to obtain the vaccine and make employees feel supported in their decision to get it. That may mean communicating in languages that their workforce uses, helping employees make vaccination appointments as needed and offering time off for employees to recover if they have significant side effects after the vaccine.
  • Highlight trusted messengers. Lots of vaccine skeptics are also skeptical of outsiders, so employers should enlist trusted local authorities, civic leaders and peer influencers to disseminate information.
  • Customize tactics to appeal to the community. There is no one-size-fits-all message, and it’s important to reach people who come from different backgrounds and have different ideologies. For some people, it’s important to talk about reaching herd immunity or protecting the most vulnerable in our communities. For others, it’s more effective to talk about the vaccines’ role in protecting their own families and loved ones, or even themselves.
  • Address fears at an individual level. Reacting to hesitancy with negativity, or suggesting that all people who are concerned about vaccines are the same, will only increase hesitancy. Instead, listen to individual concerns, and guide people to a useful solution.

Point of emphasis: “It’s important that we listen more than we talk,” said Sheehan. “That’s what’s going to get us to the point where we reach some of these hesitant groups. We need to help solve problems rather than impart information…. If we can listen and hear and alleviate concerns and fix barriers, we’re going to see much more success.”

What’s next: The MI and the Center for Public Interest Communications are preparing to release additional research findings and a new communications guide later this month, to bolster manufacturers’ efforts to get the remainder of their teams and communities vaccinated. Stay up to date on all the latest “This Is Our Shot” project resources at NAM.org/ThisIsOurShot.

Press Releases

NAM Responds to Abeyance Order in High-Profile Corporate Governance Case

Washington, D.C. – A U.S. District Court judge has placed Institutional Shareholder Services’ lawsuit against the Securities and Exchange Commission in abeyance pending the outcome of the SEC’s recently announced review of its proxy firm rule. ISS is seeking to overturn a National Association of Manufacturers–supported rule that protects investors by enhancing transparency and accountability for so-called “proxy advisory firms.”

The court’s order comes on the heels of Chairman Gary Gensler’s directive to SEC staff to review the proxy firm rule and the Division of Corporation Finance’s announcement that it will not recommend enforcement action to protect businesses and investors from the firms’ errors and conflicts of interest while said review is ongoing.

“We are disheartened by the SEC’s decision to abandon its defense of these vital reforms just days before a federal judge was to hear oral arguments outlining—as detailed by both the NAM and the SEC over the past several months—why this lawful, reasonable and minimally burdensome rule must be upheld,” said NAM Senior Vice President and General Counsel Linda Kelly. “Although the case is currently stayed, the Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action will continue to represent manufacturers’ interests—including by calling out any efforts to bypass the required notice-and-comment process to keep this lawfully issued rule on ice indefinitely.”

The NAM will continue to engage directly with the SEC during its ongoing review, as it did throughout the years-long rulemaking process that led to the final rule.

“The NAM championed the SEC’s efforts to bring appropriate oversight and transparency to proxy advisory firms, and manufacturers strongly oppose any efforts to rescind the rule’s critical reforms, which protect the interests of manufacturing workers,” said NAM Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Relations Aric Newhouse. “This rule was developed following years of debate and multiple rounds of public comment, and there is no justification for repealing it less than a year after finalization, without any chance for its vital investor protections to take effect and be fairly evaluated. If the SEC does decide to move forward, any changes must be proposed via notice-and-comment rulemaking with robust opportunities for the public to weigh in on the SEC’s new approach.”

Background:

In October 2020, the NAM filed a motion to intervene in ISS v. SEC, followed by a motion for summary judgement outlining why the SEC’s lawful, reasonable and minimally invasive rule must be upheld. The NAM has long advocated for increased oversight of proxy advisory firms—little-known, unregulated entities that exert enormous influence over publicly traded manufacturers. These firms have significant conflicts of interest and issue error-filled, one-size-fits-all proxy voting recommendations that can impact the direction of a business and the value of investors’ shares. In July 2020, the SEC issued final regulations limiting proxy firms’ outsized influence, a move NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons called a “long-sought, major win for the industry and millions of manufacturing workers.”

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers 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 12.3 million men and women, contributes $2.35 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for 63% 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 NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit nam.org.

Policy and Legal

The NAM Goes to the Supreme Court

Get the Latest News

Sign up here

Spring is the season of SCOTUS, when the court releases its most important decisions for the year. This year, the NAM is awaiting decisions on a number of cases in which it participated as an amicus—a “friend of the court”—and has already received one significant victory: a ruling in favor of energy companies on a procedural issue regarding climate lawsuits.

We spoke to two of the NAM’s legal experts—Vice President of Legal and Deputy General Counsel Patrick Hedren and Senior Litigation Counsel Erica Klenicki—to get the overview of this busy season for the NAM’s Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action.

Energy victory: The court ruled in favor of the energy companies in a suit brought against them by the city of Baltimore. As Hedren puts it, the case hinged on a “wonky procedural issue,” but the crux was this: where should nationwide issues be litigated, particularly if the federal government played some role?

  • The energy companies and the NAM argued that climate change is just such a nationwide and even global issue and simply cannot be decided by state courts. The nature of the issue makes access to federal courts paramount.
  • SCOTUS’s ruling didn’t address the underlying climate concerns, but it did provide easier access to federal courts for these types of disputes, say Hedren and Klenicki.

Class actions: The NAM is awaiting the Supreme Court’s decisions on several other cases in which it participated, including TransUnion LLC v. Ramirez, which deals with a key issue for large manufacturers and other companies: class-action lawsuits.

  • As the NAM’s legal team notes, these cases are often brought by attorneys looking for a payday, even when the vast majority of the “class” in question, though technically affected, was not really injured.
  • That’s what happened in this case. The class included people whom TransUnion mistakenly identified as potential matches for individuals on the Treasury Department’s terror watch list, which could have resulted in denials of loans.
  • Though the lead plaintiff did allegedly suffer harm due to this error, most of the 8,000-plaintiff class were entirely unaware of the error. The company had fixed its mistake before those plaintiffs were harmed.

To put it simply, the rules for class actions are far from clear, say Hedren and Klenicki. The courts often award damages or settlement money to uninjured people who could not have brought a case on their own. And the only winner in this system is the plaintiffs’ bar. That’s why the NAM is asking SCOTUS to clarify the rules for bringing a class action and ensure that trial courts are applying rigorous standards before certifying a class.

Free speech: The NAM is also awaiting the court’s decision on Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Becerra, a case concerning whether the government can force an organization to disclose the identities of its donors. While the NAM doesn’t have donors, it does have a keen interest in keeping its member list confidential. If all such lists had to be released, it would “chill free speech,” say Hedren and Klenicki.

Following suit(s): Lastly, the NAM team is asking the court to hear several other cases during its next term, including:

  • Miller v. CH Robinson Worldwide, Inc. In this case, the plaintiff was injured by a truck belonging to a small company, yet was allowed to sue the freight broker that hired the trucking company, too—despite a federal law that preempts those kinds of suits. The NAM is asking SCOTUS to consider the case so it can put commonsense limitations on liability.
  • City of Oakland, et al. v. Chevron Corp., et al.: This case is very similar to the energy case mentioned above.

The last word: Hedren explains why the NAM’s involvement in our nation’s highest court is so important: “The Supreme Court really values the manufacturing sector’s perspective, in part because bad decisions in a single lower court can have ripple effects across the whole economy. The NAM pays close attention to those cases that might really change—for better or worse—the way the sector operates, or that might open the door for crafty lawyers to abuse the court system. If we’re not out there fighting for better legal policy, we’ll face a legal system increasingly tilted in favor of game-playing and abuse.”

Press Releases

Manufacturers: President’s Budget Rightly Prioritizes Bold Infrastructure Investment

Washington, D.C. – Today, following the release of President Joe Biden’s budget for FY 2022, National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons released this statement:

“A budget is an important statement of a president’s priorities, and manufacturers are pleased to see President Biden prioritizing bold investments in infrastructure. The president’s clear commitment to ‘investing in ourselves’ is encouraging—and infrastructure is the right place to start. Manufacturers will continue working with both parties to secure a strong infrastructure deal.

“We know the president wants America to succeed and lead, and we agree. There are differences of opinion, however, on how to accomplish that laudatory goal. That is why we remain steadfast in our view that the competitive tax structure for businesses in America that was enacted in 2017 must not be disturbed. After the 2017 tax reform law, America saw the best year for manufacturing job creation in more than two decades, and the NAM’s recent tax study showed that tax increases under consideration would eliminate 1 million jobs in just the first two years. We can’t truly move forward as a country if we take a giant step backward with archaic tax laws.

“Manufacturers are confident that by working together in a bipartisan manner, we can find common ground that lifts everyone up and leaves no one behind. We look forward to continuing to work with the administration and members of the House and Senate from both political parties to accomplish exactly that.”

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers 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 12.3 million men and women, contributes $2.35 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for 63% 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 NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Press Releases

NAM Bolsters Campaign Urging Congress to Stand for Manufacturing Innovation and Oppose Drug Price Controls

Nationwide Advertising Campaign Urges Lawmakers to Oppose H.R. 3

Washington, D.C. – The National Association of Manufacturers has launched a national television and digital advertising campaign urging lawmakers to stand up for manufacturers that make lifesaving medicines, including the COVID-19 vaccines that are now getting us back to work safely, by opposing H.R. 3 and its foreign-styled price setting on critical pharmaceuticals.

The campaign calls on members of Congress from both parties to oppose policies that would slow our private-sector research engine in its tracks and diminish America’s ability to rapidly develop lifesaving cures by leaving us less prepared to respond to future crises and more reliant on other nations.

“We learned the hard way during the pandemic that we cannot rely on others to protect our nation’s health. Congress must stand up for its innovators and manufacturers whose medicines and treatments keep us healthy. They should oppose H.R. 3 and its top-down government-led controls that would undermine our ability to respond to our health care needs and develop lifesaving cures. When COVID-19 attacked, manufacturers delivered the vaccines that are now putting Americans back to work safely, reopening our economy and letting us get back to the moments we miss. Now is not the time to weaken our ability to respond to the next crisis or abandon American values of free enterprise. We are calling on members of Congress to stand with manufacturers and oppose H.R. 3,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons.

This new television and digital advertising campaign is running in media markets across the nation and follows NAM efforts to oppose drug price controls that have included numerous television, radio and print advertisements featured in nationwide outlets. To view the ad, click here.

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers 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 12.3 million men and women, contributes $2.35 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for 63% 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 NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Policy and Legal

Tax Reform Helps JLS Automation Grow and Give Back

Get the Latest News

Sign up here

JLS Automation, a maker of robotic packaging systems in York, Pennsylvania, is growing fast—adding workers, expanding its facility and looking toward a bright future. According to Craig Souser, the company’s president and CEO, this growth was enabled in part by the tax reform law passed in 2017. Souser spoke to us recently about the strides that JLS has been making ever since—and noted that any changes to those tax policies could endanger the company’s continuing success.

Ramping up hiring: According to Souser, JLS hired 20 people already this year, which represents 20% growth in its workforce. The company also expects to hire another 20 people, further expanding its talent bench of high-skilled workers.

Providing bonuses: It’s important to JLS that employees feel connected to the work they are doing, and that means ensuring they have a piece of the profits. That’s why the company has a profit-sharing program that gives bonuses to its team, explains Souser.

  • In the past three years alone, JLS has given workers two to three weeks’ pay in profit-sharing bonuses, and this year employees received additional thousand-dollar bonuses across the board. The company also offers other merit-based bonuses to qualifying employees, ensuring that good work gets noticed and rewarded.

Expanding facilities: The company’s hiring spree means it must expand its facilities, doubling the area where employees work and adding space for new capital equipment like an on-site crane and machining capability. According to Souser, the company is likely to spend as much or more on the expansion as it took to buy their current facility in the first place.

Investing in training: Souser also cites tax reform as a factor in the company’s decision to invest aggressively in training efforts.

  • “We can be more investment-driven, allocate more money to any individual training program and hire better people to do training because of tax reform,” said Souser. “We always need to train our people, but we can do it faster and better because of tax reform. There’s no doubt about it.”

Strengthening communities: JLS is focused on developing the workforce of the future, especially within its own community. The company supports local initiatives like Give Local York, which promotes nonprofit organizations that serve York County, and established a scholarship to help students of color attend York College’s engineering program.

The road ahead: All these efforts were made possible in large part by tax reform, Souser stresses. However, if JLS is saddled with a higher tax burden, the company might struggle to maintain this level of expansion. In particular, Souser worries about an increase in the corporate tax rate, harmful changes to the estate tax and the rollback of full expensing (which allows companies to deduct the costs of their equipment purchases in one year, an important tax benefit).

  • “We’re concerned about what we’re hearing on the tax side,” said Souser. “The full expensing provision has been huge. On tax, we like to be able to hire and retain people, and we like to be generous, and if profits get whacked, we can’t invest in them and their futures nearly as much.”
  • “The long-term concern is about pulling back on estate tax relief,” he added. “We are a closely-held company, and that could cause liquidation or asset sales or staffing reductions. It would be potentially devastating to the company. You put all three of these provisions together, and there’s not much to like.”

The last word: “Business is the process of managing risk—and when risk is an unknown, it becomes hard to manage,” said Souser. “It’s difficult enough to deal with a whole variety of issues out there and to remain competitive in an environment where the majority of our competitors are global. When you see something as great as tax reform, the threat of it going away gives you pause.”

View More