Dear President Trump,
First, congratulations on your victory in last year’s hard fought campaign. You connected with tens of millions of American who have trusted you with their hopes for the future.
As CEO of one of the boating industry’s largest companies with manufacturing across the USA, over 1,000 employees, and distribution in 70 countries, I want to do my best to be helpful and constructive. With that in mind, the following are some thoughts I believe will help our country continue to grow even stronger than it is today; I hope you will consider the following:
- Rise above partisan politics – Mr. President, I have spent time with both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill and in the White House and am disheartened by partisan politics. When I meet with members of either party I realize there are many items (that would be good for our country) on which we mutually agree. However, unfortunately, many seem to focus on the periphery where we disagree and appear to be more interested in their team (party) than making progress. I hope you will step above this and help us all focus on the areas on which we can make progress.
- Embrace the inevitable aspects of the global marketplace – Mr. President, the world is changing fast and will soon be much different than the world we have experienced the past few decades. I have been privileged to visit over 100 countries and the economic growth I have seen around the world is not only impressive but also provides many customers and great opportunity for the U.S. If we become protectionist the 95 percent of the world who are not in the USA can grow without us. We can compete with anyone so let’s not be afraid to use our influence to develop trade agreements that lower tariffs on U.S. products and level the playing field by requiring other countries to accept reasonable labor and environmental regulation. With this in mind, I respectfully ask you to take another look at the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP); I believe it is an agreement that helps US businesses, will help protect jobs in the U.S., and sets rules that are beneficial to U.S. businesses.
- Ensure reasonable regulation – Mr. President, the travels I mentioned have taken me places that have no, minimal or unenforced regulations and it is not good. I have been in countries where you are smart to wear a mask to breathe and would never go in the water. Actually, this is how many U.S. cities were during the industrial revolution (before reasonable regulation). As a CEO I don’t want burdensome regulation and can assure you our company will do our best to be responsible corporate citizens and treat our employees and environment right, with or without regulation. However, both history and examples around the world today show us that without some reasonable regulation people and the environment suffer. I hope you will work hard to find the right balance.
- Help CEOs with our biggest problem: Finding good people – Mr. President, as you know, 10,000 baby boomers retire every day. If you get any 100 CEOs together I’ll bet that at least half of them will say that their biggest challenge is finding good people. The U.S. economy is at risk of being throttled in the years ahead because of this problem. We need an effective immigration policy that will allow good people into the U.S. to help us fill these jobs; immigration has fueled our country’s economic growth for over 200 years and it is in our country’s best interest today.
- Address income inequality – Mr. President, I fully understand and embrace the model of nicely rewarding those who work hard and take risks; it is the American way. However, income inequality is going to be a huge problem in the U.S. if we don’t address it soon. I have been encouraged to read about Henry Ford’s view on this and more recently David Green of Hobby Lobby’s perspective. U.S. employers can pay fair wages and benefits and still make a reasonable return to their shareholders; in fact, I believe in the long run they improve that return by treating people well.
- Leverage energy advancement to our broader benefit – Mr. President, as you know technological improvements in both carbon based and photovoltaic energy development will provide the U.S. with a significant energy windfall in the years ahead. I hope we can develop national policies that (instead of exporting that energy) will encourage U.S. manufacturers to use the windfall to process U.S. goods less expensively which will make our products even more competitive in the global market.
- Embrace technological changes – Mr. President, the technological changes in the years ahead will be more than we can imagine today. While most of these changes will be hugely positive overall, they will be understandably scary to those who will be displaced or lose their livelihoods because of the changes. I encourage you to fully embrace those changes even though they may cause disruption. While we need to assist those disrupted and help them transition to different roles it would be a long-term mistake for our country to take a protective role and slow technological change.
- Fix our infrastructure – Mr. President, based on your comments during the campaign, you clearly understand the need to improve our infrastructure. I agree and believe we can make these improvements without increasing our national debt. As you work to fix this big problem I encourage you to remember our national debt problem when considering funding alternatives that make the most progress at the least cost.
- Execute tax reform – Mr. President, as you know, we have big problems with our corporate tax laws. We need corporate tax rates that are globally competitive. However, we all remember experiences in the last few decades where tax reform that was supposed to shrink our deficit actually significantly increased it; I encourage you to look at those examples and determine what we can learn from them. We also need tax reform that will bring to our country the trillions of dollars U.S. businesses hold overseas because of onerous tax rates; these dollars could even be used for the infrastructure improvements we need.
Mr. President, I know you have much more on your plate than just these items but I hope you will consider what I have suggested. You have a unique opportunity to be a different President; one who gets things done. I believe the above will help our boating industry which provides good jobs, will help the overall U.S. economy, and go a long way to ensuring your successful presidency.
Bill Yeargin is the president and CEO of Correct Craft.
Look for a feature on Correct Craft in the upcoming March/April 2017 issue of Manufacturing Today.