by Amy Antenora , Editor
The theme “Now is the Time,” has never seemed more appropriate as members of the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) gathered on Capitol Hill this week to talk to legislators about the critical issues currently challenging the motor vehicle supplier industry.
Rather than simply bringing a laundry list of complaints to legislators this week, motor vehicle suppliers that attended MEMA’s annual Legislative Summit focused on ways that the industry can be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. The motor vehicle industry is one of the most significant industries impacting the U.S. economy today contributing more than 4.5 million jobs yet, it is still somewhat of an ‘invisible giant’ silently plodding along without much recognition of its size and scope. However, as MEMA and its members meet with legislators again this year the fifth year of this annual event a little more ground is covered and a little more headway has been made to change that perception.
“We as an industry should be very proud of what we’ve established over the years,” MEMA President and CEO Bob McKenna noted in his opening remarks. Among the successes that MEMA members can feel proud of is the progress that has been made with regard to anti-counterfeiting legislation, however as McKenna pointed out there are a number of other critical issues being talked about on Capitol Hill today that have created a sort of “perfect storm” of issues both geopolitically and within the motor vehicle supplier industry that will have significant impact on both the industry and the U.S. economy if left unaddressed.
Just prior to setting off for Capitol Hill, McKenna took a few minutes to talk with aftermarketNews about these issues. Click on the arrow icon below to view our video chat with him.
This year’s event featured 25 groups of MEMA members who made a record-setting 90 Congressional visits to talk about issues including energy, cap and trade proposals, climate change measures, heavy duty tax incentives, raw materials costs, patent reform legislation, anti-counterfeiting legislation and remanufacturing tax incentives. While these were defined as eight most important issues for MEMA members to focus on during Congressional visits, McKenna noted that there were three issues that he feels will resonate most with legislators today energy efficiency, safety and emissions.
The fifth annual MEMA Legislative Summit included several opportunities for MEMA members to meet with and hear from legislators, including keynote remarks on Tuesday, June 10, from John Engler, current president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and a former three-term Michigan governor. In his keynote address, Engler encouraged MEMA members to set up plant tours for their local legislators so that they can see for themselves that auto parts manufacturing is a high-tech business and not the antiquated “Dickens-era” type of manufacturing they might expect.
“Get them into the plants,” Engler urged. “Let them see what’s going on.”
Engler added that it is important to point out the tool and equipment costs associated with auto parts manufacturing and said that legislators have “no clue” what is involved. “Congress is out of touch with the manufacturing experience today,” Engler said.
The Summit also included a ‘best practices’ panel with representatives from Gates Corp. and Robert Bosch LLC describing their successful government relations programs. And, on Tuesday evening, more than 250 people attended a Congressional Reception and Supplier Fair on Capitol Hill. Exhibiting at the Supplier Fair were ArvinMeritor, Bergstrom, BorgWarner, Cooper Standard Automotive, Delphi, EnTire Solutions, Exide Technologies, Gates Corporation, Gentex Corporation, Hella, Roadranger, Robert Bosch, SABIC Innovative Plastics, TRW Automotive and Webasto P rod uct North America Inc.
Also on Wednesday, McKenna presented the Joseph M. Magliochetti Industry Champion Award to Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) at a special luncheon on Capitol Hill. Five years ago, MEMA established the Joseph Magliochetti Industry Champion award to honor the service of outstanding public officials and to recognize their leadership in Washington in support of the industry.
Stay tuned next week for more exclusive reports from our visit last week to Capitol Hill, where we talked to AASA’s Steve Handschuh, Dayco’s Dennis Welvaert and Charley Johnson of Proliance.