Business Operations

“Cybersecurity Finds You”: An Interview with Rockwell Automation’s CISO

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When asked how she got into cybersecurity, Nicole Darden Ford replies “cybersecurity kind of finds you.” The new chief information security officer at Rockwell Automation began her career in the military, where she first got into cybersecurity, then created a cybersecurity program for the U.S. Department of Agriculture before taking several leadership roles in the private sector.

Today, her advice for companies is surprisingly similar: cyberattacks will find you. As she puts it, “It’s not if, it’s when. And it’s not one time, it’s several.”

So how should manufacturers prepare for these threats? We spoke to Darden Ford recently about her recommendations, as well as Rockwell’s efforts to safeguard its own supply chain and provide services to other companies.

The current situation: “Manufacturers account for 65% of industrial ransomware last year. We’ve seen an unprecedented number of attacks, and we’ve seen attackers focus on OT,” Darden Ford says. She predicts the attacks on OT will only escalate.

  • Meanwhile, many manufacturers have a clear strategy for IT, but they have not given as much thought to protecting their operational technology. Yet, as machines get more connected, their operations may become more vulnerable—especially as companies try to integrate legacy systems that weren’t “meant to be connected or patched.”
  • In addition, “because we are so connected, there are third-party risks,” Darden Ford says. Small manufacturers may be more inviting targets for hackers than they realize, since their systems could provide a back door into the networks of their larger clients.
  • On the plus side, manufacturers are getting smarter in building their defenses, she says. And that’s where Rockwell comes in.

Rockwell’s role: Rockwell aspires to become a “trusted advisor” to companies seeking cyber defenses, says Darden Ford. It already manufactured OT, so moving into cybersecurity for such equipment was a natural next step.

  • Its partnerships with other firms, including Dragos, CrowdStrike, Cisco and others, allows Rockwell to offer bespoke cyber monitoring and other services to its clients.
  • These services include penetration testing, threat detection and response and an OT “SOC”—i.e., a security operations center, which monitors threats to clients’ operations remotely.

How it works: “We have an OT cybersecurity roadmap—it starts with an assessment in your specific OT space, then walks through potential risks,” Darden Ford says. (See the end of this article for her detailed description of this roadmap.)

  • The process includes building an “asset inventory, as you can’t protect what you don’t know.”
  • “Then we talk about ways you can reduce your attack surface,” Darden Ford continues. “This is about segmentation. We help organizations divide their network into different domains. If you have ransomware or malware that propagates very quickly, then you have the opportunity to quarantine it.”
  • In addition, the roadmap helps companies decide which tools and resources to use. For OT, you need to use very passive systems that don’t interfere with “getting the product out the door,” Darden Ford says.

After this process is complete, Rockwell’s SOC helps clients stay safe and hone their responses to real attacks.

  • The SOC keeps eyes on a company’s operations remotely, notifies it of breaches within the plant network and helps it decide which threats to tackle. As Darden Ford says, the SOC stands in for the teams that companies would otherwise have to hire themselves.

On-site resources: Manufacturers can tap their existing staff to work on cyber defenses, including with offsite monitors. Darden Ford recommends drafting “the plant engineering team, along with the IT team,” who would have the knowledge and resources required.

A community effort: Large manufacturers should help educate small manufacturers on cyber issues, says Darden Ford.

  • “We have a lot of suppliers, so to mitigate third-party risk, we provide more awareness about OT and advice about upping their cyber hygiene. We work closely with suppliers and do a lot of knowledge sharing,” she says.

Collaboration at the top: In addition, it’s also beneficial for CISOs and manufacturing leaders to consult their peers in what Darden Ford calls “mastermind sessions.”

  • These conversations have provided her with “a lot of insights and data,” she says. She gets indispensable input on “strategies, frameworks, journeys and roadmaps,” as companies try to find their way through this cyber landscape together.

The bottom line: When asked what she says to companies that doubt the need for cyber protections, Darden Ford has a simple answer: “You wouldn’t drive your car without insurance—that’s what this is.”

  • “What used to be optional is becoming mandatory,” she adds. “For small or midsize companies, you are still going to have to report” back to your large customers, many of whom require stringent protections of their suppliers. Those requirements will only get “more and more rigorous over time,” she warns.
  • In other words, however you choose to do it, “you need a plan.”

 

The Roadmap

Darden Ford supplied us with her account of Rockwell’s cyber roadmap for its own suppliers, below. “The playbook aligns with the NIST framework, showing you step-by-step how to audit your current security state, identify gaps and take a proactive approach to mitigate risk,” she says. Here is her account of the key steps.

Step #1: Discover 

  • Know where you stand. Conduct a security and risk assessment—log all issues and review progress against findings.
  • You can’t protect what you can’t see. You must gain a full understanding of what network assets you have on your plant floor and their current state. Start by conducting extensive network discovery and asset inventory.

 Step #2: Remediate 

  • Work with stakeholders to prioritize assets and organizational risk levels. Take the necessary steps to eliminate, upgrade or replace unneeded, unused or unsupported OT applications and infrastructure. This will look different for every organization based on what you discover in Step #1.

 Step #3: Isolate 

  • Establish a perimeter by physically and logically segmenting your networks. Put up a firewall and establish internal and external cybersecurity policies to protect your OT assets. Set up an on-premises industrial data center to encapsulate critical applications inside the protected OT network.
  • Secure endpoints with security software on plant floor assets.
  • Enable third-party remote access. Third parties need access, but you must control the access and maintain visibility into what they’re doing in your network by enabling OT access controls. 

Step #4: Monitor and Respond 

  • Now that you have a solid foundation in place, the next step is to implement OT network monitoring to provide real-time OT cybersecurity, including malicious event/asset risk alerting, network diagnostics, AI learning and KPI dashboarding. The data only works for you if you are continuously viewing and reacting to it.
  • Establish an OT SOC for 24/7 real-time alert monitoring​, acknowledgement and triage​. Cyberattacks aren’t limited to 9–5.
  • Create an integrated IT/OT cyber event response team. Define event response and isolation protocols. IT/OT must have equal involvement and buy-in for these protocols to be successful. Execute tabletop exercises to simulate attacks and outcomes.
Workforce

Caterpillar Foundation Helps Veterans Find Manufacturing Careers

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On Veterans Day, we honor the service members who safeguard our country, many of whom will go on to contribute their skills and experiences to civilian industries. Manufacturing is one beneficiary, with many veterans finding that the high-tech, mission-focused industry is an excellent home for their talents.

But how do transitioning service members and veterans find their new career paths? The Caterpillar Foundation is helping America’s heroes become tomorrow’s manufacturing leaders through its support of the Manufacturing Institute’s Heroes MAKE America initiative.

HMA provides integrated certification and career-readiness training in partnership with local community colleges to prepare transitioning service members, veterans, National Guard members, reservists and military spouses for rewarding careers in the manufacturing and supply chain industries.

Virtual training: The Caterpillar Foundation’s support began in 2021 and has helped HMA develop and launch its first 100% virtual training offering in partnership with Texas State Technical College—an exciting option for individuals across the country who might not be able to attend an in-person course.

  • The program uses innovative solutions like virtual reality technology, provided by Transfr VR, in order to add a “hands-on” aspect to the students’ training for their Production Technician and OSHA 10 certifications.
  • “Heroes MAKE America was great,” said Benjamin Novak, a graduate of Heroes MAKE America’s virtual training program. “The virtual self-paced program allowed me to balance class, transitioning and family life. Getting an opportunity to connect and speak with companies directly was a huge opportunity as well.”

New programs: Additionally, thanks to the foundation’s grant, Heroes MAKE America launched two new in-person training paths: a Mechatronics training program at Fort Hood, Texas, also in partnership with Texas State Technical College, and a Certified Logistics Technician training program at Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia, in partnership with Savannah Technical College.

  • Together, the three new training offerings (the two mentioned above and the virtual option) have graduated 133 participants as of November 2022, with another 40 participants expected to graduate in December.
  • “Heroes MAKE America is a great program that wants to see veterans succeed,” said Anna Rabago, a graduate of the Mechatronics training at Fort Hood, Texas. “They helped mold me into a great candidate for manufacturing while earning seven manufacturing certifications. The instructors are subject-matter experts in their field and are willing to work early or late evenings to benefit the soldiers.”

An impressive year: The HMA program is on track to graduate 303 members of the military community across all 6 training sites in 2022, bringing the total number of graduates since the 2018 inception of HMA to 957. The training sites include Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia; Fort Riley, Kansas; Fort Campbell, Kentucky; Fort Bragg, North Carolina; and the 100% virtual option.

The last word: “HMA provided me with all the tools that I needed to thrive as a civilian,” said Tillman Harris, a graduate of the Production Technician training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. “They provided industry training, résumé assistance, interview prep and much more. Trust in yourself and have confidence in everything you do. HMA is a program that cares about us and wants us to succeed.”

Learn more: Find out more about Heroes MAKE America here.

Workforce

Cornerstone Building Brands Creates a Diverse, Inclusive Workplace

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To Carol Enneking, creating a diverse and inclusive workplace is less of a race to a finish line than an ongoing expedition that never really ends.

A journey: “Realizing a workplace culture where DE&I is not just prioritized but celebrated was a critical aspiration,” said Enneking, Cornerstone Building Brands’ vice president of talent management, learning and diversity. “It’s a journey to get there, but not a destination where you will ever arrive to stay. You expect your workplace to evolve as highly diverse and inclusive, but you can always do more,” she said.

Taking action: Cornerstone Building Brands, a leading manufacturer of exterior commercial and residential building products, has been taking decisive actions to increase diversity and inclusion since the company’s inception in 2018. Extra focus has been given to its DE&I strategy since 2020, shortly after the murder of George Floyd, when the company began activating its DE&I commitment with employees.

  • “I spent a great deal of time on this in 2020,” Enneking said. “We had a group of executives that mobilized to provide a [company] response. It was a bit of a new frontier for us, especially as a new company, deciding to speak up and send a message about this. We worked hard to set the right tone.”
  • It also became clear that a more focused DE&I approach would help the company in these situations and in the day-to-day creation of an inclusive culture.
  • Now, the business has a DE&I team at the ready to drive their strategy forward: its DE&I Council, which meets monthly and focuses on strategic alignment; communications; coaching and training; and metrics and governance.

More diversity in management: Cornerstone Building Brands aspires to build a more diverse and inclusive organization that reflects the diversity of the communities where it operates. It is also focused on increasing the number of diverse employees in Cornerstone Building Brands’ management teams.

  • “We have a very diverse frontline population,” Enneking said. “It’s close to 50% frontline employees of color and about 28% women, but we see those numbers decrease in management. The challenge is to bring that same representation into the management.”
  • To engage employees in creating an inclusive culture, the DE&I Council disseminated a survey that led to the creation of four distinct employee resource groups: Women!, Patriots, Pride and Unity. All meet regularly to learn together, plan events, address specific employee concerns and foster mentoring opportunities.
  • Another way forward has been the company’s 2021 signing of the NAM’s Pledge for Action, in which “manufacturers commit to taking 50,000 tangible actions to increase equity and parity for underrepresented communities, creating 300,000 pathways to job opportunities for Black people and all people of color.” In the first year after signing this pledge, Cornerstone Building Brands took 44 tangible actions toward achieving its commitment to the pledge and its broader DE&I goals.

How far they’ve come: All of Cornerstone Building Brands job descriptions now contain a DE&I statement that highlights its commitment, and the company recently published its first environmental, social and governance report, which included DE&I initiative details.

  • Cornerstone Building Brands has worked to ensure that its “recruitment processes are bringing in diverse candidates” and that there is pay-scale parity, particularly in direct manufacturing roles, Enneking said.
  • The company also has a reporting mechanism in place for all employees to make leadership aware of potential inclusivity violations or other issues.
  • In addition, the manufacturer has instituted manager and employee DE&I learning modules, which comprise unconscious bias and inclusive leadership training led by professional facilitators, as well as accountability measures.

Making an impact: The work has started to pay off, said Enneking, who added that “there has been an increase” in diverse representation among Cornerstone Building Brands’ management. President and CEO Rose Lee, the first Korean American woman to head a Fortune 1000 company, was recently named a Pinnacle Award recipient by the Asian American Business Development Center. The company also recently hired two new female business unit presidents.

  • The company has also broadened its search parameters in recruiting, Enneking said. “Diversity has many facets, many of which are not visible. We value diversity of thought and perspectives and are more willing to bring in people who may not have been in [our industry] all their lives but who can learn quickly and have transferable skills. In fact, those hires usually bring us a lot of ideas that we didn’t have. Sometimes you need to look outside to get those.”
Press Releases

Manufacturers Urge Swift Resolution to Ongoing Rail Negotiations

Washington, D.C. – National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement as negotiators work to reach an agreement between Class I railroads and all labor unions representing the freight rail workforce. Several organizations have not yet ratified the deal tentatively agreed to by union leadership and rail industry representatives in September that delayed the possibility of a strike.

“Manufacturers are urging congressional leaders to be prepared to bring stability and predictability to the economy if a rail strike and shutdown occurs. We already face economic turmoil with rising costs, product shortages and high inflation. Any nationwide rail strike or shutdown will cause even more economic pain. Manufacturers urge all parties to work rapidly—for the good of the country—to conclude this collective bargaining process.”

Background: A rail strike could begin as soon as 12:01 a.m. EST on Saturday, Nov. 19. Currently, the majority of the unions representing the rail workers have agreed to extend that deadline to Friday, Dec. 9, though a unanimous decision to maintain the status quo is required for that extension.

On Thursday, Oct. 27, the NAM joined hundreds of other associations in calling on President Biden to ensure a swift resolution and reiterating support for the work of the Presidential Emergency Board, which has aided in the talks.

Currently, the American freight rail network accounts for nearly 40% of total freight volume, and a strike or delay in finalizing a long-term contract would have devastating impacts across surface supply chain networks and economic output.

-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 12.9 million men and women, contributes $2.77 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for 58% 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

What’s Up With the Rail Negotiations?

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With the possibility of a national rail strike looming in the near future, the NAM is working with association members, congressional leadership and the White House to urge all parties toward a final resolution. On Monday, the NAM held a members-only briefing with remarks from senior leadership of the Association of American Railroads and personnel involved in the ongoing collective bargaining process.

  • NAM members in attendance had the opportunity to hear about the state of play directly from representatives of the rail industry, and the message was consistent with the NAM’s own: that the situation is critical, and that a lack of an agreement would be devastating for railroads, for manufacturers and for the wider U.S. economy.

The background: For nearly three years, railroads and their unions have been discussing the outlines of a new long-term contract.

  • Two months ago, U.S. Class I railroads and the various labor unions composing the rail workforce agreed to a deal brokered in part through efforts led by the Biden administration that temporarily averted a strike, pending ratification votes by each union’s rank-and-file membership.
  • Although more than half of the unions involved have now ratified the agreement, at least two unions have voted to reject it—raising the likelihood of a strike.

The situation: Seven unions have ratified the proposed agreement, two have rejected the deal, and three have yet to vote. As it stands now, the hard deadline for unanimous agreement by all unions is 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 19, at which point a strike could be called.

The outlook: During the NAM’s event, the speakers acknowledged that Class I freight rail companies will have to begin making decisions about possible disruptions and metering rail service as soon as this weekend.

  • Leading up to the Nov. 19 deadline, manufacturers may receive notifications that some products cannot be moved on certain rail lines.

Next steps: It will be critical for stakeholders to press Congress and the administration either to work with unions to extend the Nov. 19 deadline, or to intervene with legislation that puts in place an agreement like the one recommended in September by the Presidential Emergency Board.

What we’re saying: “Manufacturers are urging congressional leaders to be prepared to bring stability and predictability to the economy if a rail strike and shutdown occurs,” NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons said today.

  • “We already face economic turmoil with rising costs, product shortages and high inflation. Any nationwide rail strike or shutdown will cause even more economic pain. Manufacturers urge all parties to work rapidly—for the good of the country—to conclude this collective bargaining process.”
Policy and Legal

NAM Guides Treasury, IRS on Climate Incentives

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The Treasury Department and the IRS can help the U.S. meet its climate goals—if both agencies “can leverage private sector ingenuity, expertise and capital” both transparently and inclusively, the NAM told Treasury late last week.

What’s going on: This year’s reconciliation legislation contains advanced manufacturing, clean energy and climate incentives to invest $369 billion in actions that will address climate change, including $270 billion via direct tax incentives.

  • These measures can be successful if “Treasury and the IRS quickly address the critical details of how each of these incentives will work in tandem with clean energy and advanced manufacturing projects that have already begun and those that have yet to be conceived,” NAM Vice President of Energy and Resources Policy Rachel Jones told the agencies.
  • Treasury must also work to ensure the incentives are used “in a way that quickly brings new private capital to bear” while keeping projects on schedule.

Manufacturers’ input needed: Engagement with manufacturers should help the agencies develop their rulemaking, Jones said.

  • “To meet our shared goals, including achieving meaningful emissions reductions, Treasury and the IRS should maintain an open line of communication with the NAM’s members of all sizes and sectors,” she said.
  • “Without thoughtful engagement with manufacturers, the clean energy and climate incentives could have the opposite of intended results, and in some cases projects could stall, communities will face further disappointment, energy security will be jeopardized and climate goals will go unmet.”

What’s not needed: “It would be shortsighted to implement guidance and rules that exclude or indirectly penalize manufacturers that are already making significant capital investments in clean energy projects,” Jones said.

Teamwork—and plain language: The NAM also urged Treasury and the IRS to make clear their definitions and qualifications when it comes to clean energy and climate tax credits.

  • Jones recommended cooperation across the “entire federal family” to combat climate change—from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to the Department of Defense to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and many more.

NAM about town … The NAM participated in a Treasury roundtable yesterday where it shared the specific concerns and constructive input from manufacturers more directly.

Business Operations

How Managers Can Produce Top-Notch R&D

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As innovation in manufacturing continues at breakneck speed, research and development is more important than ever—but it requires outstanding managers to make it all happen.

So how do these managers get the education and insights they need? The Innovation Research Interchange, a network of cross-industry innovators that the NAM combined with earlier this year, has an answer: an executive management course called Shaping Innovation Leaders.

The gist: Co-hosted by the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, the course provides a forum for strategic thinking, education and networking for technology leaders from around the world.

  • In 2023, it will take place on May 13–19 on the Northwestern campus in Evanston, Illinois.

The details: The goal of this seven-day program is to develop midlevel managers into leaders for their companies, by covering topics including:

  • Evaluating financial results;
  • Segmentation, targeting and positioning;
  • Growing and defending your brand;
  • Legal and strategic investments;
  • Building a better network; and
  • Negotiating skills and strategic alliances;

Who’s involved: To get a sense of this event’s caliber, look no further than the attendees from the 2022 course.

  • They hailed from a wide range of companies, including manufacturers such as Mars, Procter & Gamble, John Deere, Hershey, NatureWorks, Air Liquide, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Sherwin-Williams and many, many more.

The reviews are in: Participants in the 2022 course were enthusiastic about what they learned and experienced.

  • “[I’m] really super impressed with the program, soup to nuts,” said John Deere Manager for Global Strategic Communications & Culture Jacqueline Kiple. “One of my favorite aspects of the program was really getting a chance to think about our business a little bit differently … to take a step back and think about the higher-level impacts that affect decision-making in our respective organizations.”
  • “What I really enjoyed about this course was first and foremost the esteemed professors. … [The course] gives you a really big view of all the information you need to really understand business and understand the decisions that are getting made,” said Sherwin-Williams Associate R&D Director Tony Rook. “It gives you that top-level view of how you add value to [your] organization.”

Get involved: Registration is now open for the 2023 course. You can find additional information and register here.

Policy and Legal

Energy Manufacturers Need Policy Support

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As the world’s leading energy producer, the U.S. is poised for long-term energy independence and competitiveness in the global marketplace—but only with the right policies in place.

The right recipe: That’s the theme of the NAM’s energy and natural resources advocacy in its policy blueprint, “Competing to Win,” and it’s the recipe for continued success for all manufacturers in the U.S.

  • Manufacturers lead the way in finding new means of harnessing our abundant sources of energy, but to make long-term investments and continue to innovate, policymakers should draw up and stand by a comprehensive framework for a secure energy future.

Keep us competitive: The NAM calls on legislators to take specific actions to keep energy manufacturing in the U.S. competitive. These include:

  • Streamlining regulations that slow access to our rich supply of energy, minerals and other natural resources;
  • Expediting the regulatory and legal processes involved in developing clean energy technologies and promoting energy and energy technology trade;
  • Fixing the broken permitting process for energy production and infrastructure projects;
  • Promoting access to federal lands and waters for environmentally responsible mineral, energy and resource exploration;
  • Supporting measures to enhance development and deployment of energy-efficient technologies;
  • Backing domestic critical mineral extraction, recycling and processing; and
  • Expanding the useful life of critical minerals components using federal programs and funds.

Focus on the environment: Energy produced in the U.S. is cleaner and more responsibly sourced than energy produced in other nations.

  • When U.S. policies fail to encourage production here at home, they encourage production in other parts of the world, where there is far greater adverse impact to the environment.

Security through innovation: Sound, thorough and competition-focused energy policy will give energy manufacturers in the U.S. the stability they need to invest for the long term.

  • Innovation, energy security and greater affordability—not just for the U.S., but for other countries as well—will follow.

The last word: “The future of the manufacturing industry and our country’s resource security rely on clarity and certainty from policymakers that strengthens our competitiveness,” said NAM Vice President of Energy and Resources Policy Rachel Jones.

  • “With a renewed commitment to increasing domestic energy production and delivery, to focusing on critical mineral and material supply chains and to advancing new technologies, the United States can continue to lead the world for decades to come.”
Policy and Legal

Vermeer Corporation Speaks Out on R&D Tax Policy

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After a tax law change went into effect in 2022, manufacturers across the country found themselves facing new obstacles to investment in research and development. For Vermeer Corporation—a manufacturer of industrial and agricultural equipment based in Pella, Iowa—the change is causing real concern.

The background: Until the beginning of this year, businesses could deduct 100% of their R&D expenses in the same year they incurred the expenses. Starting in 2022, however, a change in the tax law required businesses to spread deductions over a five-year timeframe. That change is making investment more expensive and preventing some companies from putting their resources into critical innovation.

Constant innovation: As a company that makes a variety of diverse products for fields like agriculture, mining, utility construction, forestry and renewable energy, Vermeer is always working at the cutting-edge of new technology, and that requires significant investment in R&D.

  • “Vermeer designs and builds specialized equipment—and it has to be innovative,” said Vermeer Corp. Senior Director of International Business Development and Government Affairs Daryl Bouwkamp. “We have to push that leading edge constantly. The history of Vermeer is a history of invention and innovation.”

Vital competition: According to Vermeer, R&D is also vital to the ability of manufacturers in the United States to compete with foreign companies.

  • “We’re not the only company that’s innovating around the world,” said Vermeer Vice President of Finance Ryan Agre. “There’s pressure from companies in countries that are producing products like ours.”

Immediate impact: The new tax law has already had a serious effect, according to Agre.

  • “It’s a material, meaningful impact,” said Agre. “It’s millions in additional tax that we will incur at Vermeer just next year—and that’s the one-year impact, so it’ll be even more significant over a five-year implementation period. We’re actively having to harvest cash elsewhere to offset this impending change.”

Pushing back on China: The U.S. tax law change also stands in stark contrast with policies from countries like China, according to Vermeer.

  • “When you look at the generosity of foreign support, especially China’s, versus the United States, it’s so lopsided,” said Bouwkamp. “China is trying to drive behavior toward R&D—and that’s something we’re lacking.”

The big picture: Agre also noted that making R&D more expensive can make companies like Vermeer risk-averse—more likely to direct the investments they do make toward smaller or more incremental innovations, and less willing or able to invest in the kind of ambitious research that can offer truly transformative results.

  • “We don’t know what we haven’t discovered yet,” said Agre. “We have a history of being innovative in new spaces, and that requires individuals to have funding and freedom of thought to go out and experiment. When you’re trying to create something that doesn’t exist today, you’re going to hit some home runs—but you’re also going to strike out a bit. When you need more certainty, you start cutting out uncertainty and making fewer investments in big ideas. That impacts not just Vermeer but the whole economy.”
Policy and Legal

What Manufacturers Want on Trade Policy

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cargo unloaded at port of Los Angeles

Manufacturers of all sizes must be able to compete in a global economy—and that means selling not just to consumers in the U.S., but also to the billions of consumers who live around the world. That’s why the NAM is standing up for a robust U.S. trade policy that advances strong rules and partnerships that promote open markets, improve competitiveness, increase business predictability and boost manufacturers’ ability to reach new customers abroad.

Our priorities: The NAM is interested in a U.S. trade agenda that supports open global markets so that manufacturers can benefit globally from the same principles that we value at home: nondiscrimination, fairness, equal opportunity and competition.

  • It is also focused on pushing back against foreign practices that harm manufacturers and their employees in the U.S. and holding countries like China accountable. Ultimately, the NAM is committed to improving U.S. global competitiveness, supporting innovation, growing the economy and strengthening the industrial base.

Our solutions: To accomplish these goals, the NAM has offered a series of solutions for national policymakers and other leaders, including:

  • Implementing the CHIPS and Science Act and pursuing additional legislation to strengthen supply chains and support a STEM workforce;
  • Negotiating cutting-edge trade agreements and enforcing existing trade rules;
  • Comprehensively enforcing existing U.S. trade agreements, including full implementation of the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement;
  • Standing firm in support of strong global intellectual property protections;
  • Accelerating efforts toward a clear, comprehensive U.S.–China strategy that promotes fairness, accountability, enforcement and business certainty;
  • Reforming international trade rules and institutions, such as the World Trade Organization;
  • Bolstering U.S. export promotion and financing tools and reforming export control policies;
  • Modernizing customs operations to cut red tape; and
  • Updating the U.S. tariff code, including through enactment of the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill.

What we’re saying: “Manufacturers believe that strong U.S. global economic leadership and engagement with our allies—including by forging strong, enforceable U.S. trade agreements—are critical to tackling shared global challenges, expanding export opportunities, diversifying sources for trade, ensuring supply chain resiliency and promoting American values,” said NAM Vice President of International Economic Affairs Ken Monahan.

  • “Without such trade deals, manufacturers in the U.S. risk being left behind our global competitors, many of whom are actively negotiating new agreements that exclude us. The time is now for the U.S. to get back in the game.”

Learn more: Find out more about the NAM’s priorities around trade in “Competing to Win”—a blueprint for policies that support manufacturing in America.

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