Roundtables

ByOffice of Advocacy

Georgia gets Grubby at Area Roundtable Discussion

By Nick Ivory, Regional Legislative and Regulatory Manager

Small business owners grilled federal barriers to small business growth during a roundtable hosted by Samuel T. Jackson, entrepreneur and owner of multiple Grub Burger locations in the state of Georgia. This roundtable was part of the overall outreach efforts that Advocacy has been initiating for almost a year. In attendance were multiple small business entrepreneurs who operate in the greater Atlanta area.

Aside from his work in the restaurant industry, Jackson works as a consultant assisting people who are trying to start businesses of their own. He cited access to financing as a major roadblock in many instances, and stressed that the process is badly in need of streamlining. Jackson mentioned that there should be a more concerted effort between the borrower, the bank, and SBA. Advocacy has a close working relationship with the SBA on the issue of access to capital for small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs, and is working with them to further streamline that process.

James Boyd, a consultant in the restaurant business, brought up the possibility of Congress passing a $15-per-hour minimum wage, or a comparable one, and how such legislation would eventually put him out of business. He stressed that people need to understand that wages and any wage increases need to be based on experience and performance. Food industry jobs are, for the most part, he said, entry-level jobs and are not meant to be career positions, but rather stepping stones for new entrants into the workforce to grow professionally. Advocacy regularly works with Congress on behalf of small businesses in order to curb any legislation that would negatively impact the small business community.

 

Advocacy was in Atlanta for Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtable and NAFTA Modernization Outreach Meetings on April 10-11th.

Can’t get to a roundtable near you? Fill out this form and tell us about your federal regulatory burdens. We will pass this information on to the appropriate agency and use it in the planning of upcoming Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables. 

Nick Ivory is the Regional Legislative and Regulatory Manager. Ivory can be reached at nicholas.ivory@sba.gov.

 

Related:

Small Businesses Need Relief!
Atlanta Business Owners Feel the Pinch of Regulation
By Claudia Rodgers, Senior Counsel

ByOffice of Advocacy

Site Visit: Plant Spins Regulatory Concerns Round and Round with Advocacy

By Zvi Rosen, Assistant Chief Counsel

On March 22, Michael McManus, Zvi Rosen, and Rosalyn Steward from the Office of Advocacy visited Gold Rush Vinyl, a brand-new pressing plant for vinyl records in Austin, Texas. The visit was facilitated by the Texas Music Office, and Marc Fort and several others from the Texas Music Office were on hand, as well.

Gold Rush Vinyl is owned by its founder, Caren Kelleher, whose CV includes working for Google, managing bands, and a Harvard MBA. She was inspired to found the company after being unable to get copies of LPs for bands she managed in time for shows, and realizing that there was a market niche for a record company to do smaller LP orders on a quick turnaround, using new technology instead of the clunkier record presses of yore. Kelleher worked with the SBA and used SBA loans to finance the creation of her dream business – Gold Rush Vinyl.

Kelleher’s previous experience with Google handling music licensing is critical for Gold Rush, which allows it to navigate the rules regarding music licensing and copyright law for a wholesale record press. The computerized record presses are purchased from Canada, and their software is governed by international copyright and trade secret laws. In addition, Gold Rush faces all the usual regulatory concerns of a small business in manufacturing, including worker safety rules, even as the computerized machines make the process than it has ever been before.

Despite any regulatory concerns Kelleher and her associates have, her business is filling a void for nostalgic music fans as well as letting a new generation appreciate the sound of a record. Lots of audiophiles say that when it comes to sound quality, nothing beats vinyl. Kelleher told the Austin American-Statesman that her company is going to focus on smaller orders for independent artists.

By the mid-2000’s, vinyl records were at a low, and the music business was weathering the crisis of Napster and file sharing more generally. However, a bright light would begin to appear for the business – people began buying vinyl records again, after the format had been left for dead over a decade earlier. At first existing used stocks were sufficient, but people wanted to hear more than just old recordings on their new record players, and new vinyl pressings were needed. 2017 marked a 12th straight year of growth in vinyl record sales, and the sky seems to be the limit. At first these pressing plants used vinyl presses which had been mothballed decades earlier, and increasingly entrepreneurs went looking for used vinyl presses, paying higher and higher prices for it. However, such machinery inevitably was not made for the digital era, and lacked efficiencies that a vinyl press designed from the ground up today would have. A Canadian company began designing such a computerized vinyl press, and Gold Rush is using two of their machines to press records, allowing them to press different records much more efficiently and with lower costs than they would have using secondhand older presses.

However, the first parts of making a record haven’t changed in decades – you start with vinyl. The vinyl is shaped from pellets into a “donut” and a label is prepared. Different colors can also be added to give the vinyl a different look – a solid color, swirls, or other patterns. The label is placed atop the vinyl, which is pressed, quickly heated, and just as quickly cooled, settling into its finished shape.  The shape is created by electroplating a “master” with the negative image of the record, and then a having that electroplated master pressed into the vinyl. Gold Rush does not create these electroplated masters in house, due to the complexity of the chemical procedure as well as environmental regulations concerning waste from electroplating, and instead use an outside contractor.

The key parts of making a record are actually steam (to heat the vinyl so it forms completely) and cold water (to quickly re-cool the vinyl so it takes the exactly shape needed). Accordingly, Gold  Rush Vinyl relies on a complicated series of processes to automate provision of steam and cold water, using proprietary processes that are kept secret. The computerized presses only require one operator, everything else is handled by robotic arms and the device’s software.

It is that kind of precision and care that may help Kelleher’s company strike that Gold record from her 8,400-square-foot warehouse in the live music capital of the world.

Advocacy was in San Antonio and Houston, Texas for Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtable and NAFTA Modernization Outreach Meetings on March 19-20.

Can’t get to a roundtable near you? Fill out this form and tell us about your federal regulatory burdens. We will pass this information on to the appropriate agency and use it in the planning of upcoming Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables. 

Zvi Rosen is an Assistant Chief Counsel for Advocacy whose portfolio includes intellectual property. Rosen can be reached at zvi.rosen@sba.gov.

 

Related:

Site Visit: Houston has a Regulatory Problem that Advocacy Aims to Solve
By David Rostker, Assistant Chief Counsel

Federal Procurement, NAFTA, and Agricultural Issues Highlight San Antonio Roundtable
By Bruce Lundegren, Assistant Chief Counsel

“Stop the Madness and Fix the Mess!”
Texas Small Businesses Plead for Regulatory Relief
By Claudia Rodgers, Senior Counsel

Site Visit: Museum Brings Offshore Oil Industry Concerns Ashore
By Prianka Sharma, Assistant Chief Counsel

Site Visit: Small Business Brings Sizzling Regulatory Concerns to the Table
By Nick Ivory, Regional Legislative and Regulatory Manager

Site Visit: Advocacy Staff Learns About Role of NAFTA during Visit with Owners of Concord Supply 
By Lindsay Abate, Regulatory Economist

ByOffice of Advocacy

Site Visit: Family Business Puts the Pedal to the Metal on Reducing Regulations

By Nick Ivory, Regional Legislative and Regulatory Manager

A fourth-generation, family-owned business proves that car manufacturing in the greater Detroit area is not entirely running on empty.

Advocacy staff visited E&E Manufacturing Co., Inc. in Plymouth, Mich., which designs and manufactures structural and chassis component assemblies, seating components, hood panels, rear tail light panels, and many other component parts for wheeled vehicles in the automotive, military, commercial, and industrial markets. Some of their major customers include BMW, GM, Mercedes Benz, Volkswagen, Lear Corporation, Fisher Dynamics, and Oshkosh Defense.

A true fourth generation family-owned business, E&E was founded in 1962 in a 5,000-square-foot building by the grandfather of current E&E President Wallace (Wes) Smith, who eventually handed the helm over to Wes’s father. The company, which has now grown into a large campus with metal stamping presses that weigh up to 300 tons, and has expanded into Tennessee, is now being run by Wes himself. We sat down with him, his daughter and Chief Cultural Officer Jeanne Swanson, his son-in-law (and Jeanne’s husband) Chief Financial Officer Brian Swanson, and Wes’s other son-in-law Chief Growth Officer Matthew Menchinger, to learn about federal regulatory issues and trade issues affecting their small business.

Regarding regulatory issues that they face as a company, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration compliance process was described by company President Wes Smith as being too punitive rather than more assistive, which is a concern that Advocacy has heard from many small businesses as we have traveled the country holding Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables. Additionally, he touched on the agency unnecessarily halting production for extended periods of time with little to no notice while they conduct inspections, noting that in one instance they had to stop working for roughly two weeks. However, despite the obstacles and hurdles, E&E excels in safety compliance, and even received the MIOSHA Star Award for their employee safety program.

When the conversation reached the topic of the effects of the Affordable Care Act, Smith described the law as a nightmare for the average small business as he highlighted the out-of-control health care costs, which the company is inevitably forced to pass on to their employees. Unlike some small businesses, E&E is in a position not to have to pass on as much of the cost to their employees and this helps them stay competitive in the labor market. The increased cost of health care as a result of ACA is a regular concern for small businesses across all industries, and Advocacy has been working to address the issue by working with federal agencies and members of congress to encourage them to lessen the burden.

Trade policy is another area of concern for E&E. Because there is so much uncertainty in regards to NAFTA, the company is getting substantial pressure from some of their customers to start producing in Mexico, which Smith does not want to do. He emphasized that once there is certainty on U.S. trade policy within North America, E&E will be on a better footing to assess the effects of any changes and plan accordingly. (In light of President Donald J. Trump’s plan to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, Advocacy has been conducting outreach across the country to hear from small businesses affected by international trade policy with Canada and Mexico.)

An interesting and significant hurdle expressed by CCO Jeanne Swanson is the skills gap affecting their industry, and how young people graduating from high school don’t even consider manufacturing as a career because they have a general assumption of the industry as assembly line based and labor intensive. She described a recent, on-site visit from a group of students from a high school STEM program and how stunned the kids were about how much of the manufacturing process is now computer based, and they were surprised to learn that they can make a six figure salary in this field. E&E has an apprenticeship program within the company, but they still can’t get enough young people entering the job market who are interested in honing these skills and embarking on this type of career path. Swanson emphasized that if more high school students become exposed to these types of skilled trade programs in the manufacturing industry as they near end of their high school years, it would provide more options for those individuals looking for a great career with which they can support a family that doesn’t involve getting a college degree, as well as satisfy the automobile manufacturing industry’s demand for these workers.

 

Advocacy was in Detroit for a Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtable and NAFTA Modernization Outreach Meeting on March 13.

Can’t get to a roundtable near you? Fill out this form and tell us about your federal regulatory burdens. We will pass this information on to the appropriate agency and use it in the planning of upcoming Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables. 

Nick Ivory is the Regional Legislative and Regulatory Manager. Ivory can be reached at nicholas.ivory@sba.gov.

Related:

“Regulations are unfair and deceptive!” Michigan & Wisconsin Small Business Owners Describe their Regulatory Burdens to Advocacy
By Claudia Rodgers, Senior Counsel

Site Visit: RBV Contracting Digs Detroit
By Janis Reyes, Assistant Chief Counsel

Site Visit: Architectural Salvage Warehouse Preserves the History of Detroit
By Janis Reyes, Assistant Chief Counsel

Detroit Small Business Owners Want the Feds to be Less of a Speed Bump
By Brian Headd, Research Economist

Site Visit: Wigwam Knocks the Socks off its Competitors in Unraveling Apparel Industry 
By Janis Reyes, Assistant Chief Counsel

Advocacy Gets a Taste of the Regulatory Problems of Wisconsin Small Businesses
By Charles Maresca, Director of Interagency Affairs

Don’t Bilk the Cow: Wisconsin Dairy Farmers Concerned with NAFTA Re-Negotiations 
By Joe Knilans, Rural Affairs Advocate

 

ByOffice of Advocacy

The Golden State Shines a Light on Regulatory Issues: “We are So Overregulated!”

Group at California roundtable

Advocacy held a series of roundtable events and conducted 10 site visits in California during the week of April 30th. Congressman Jeffrey John Denham (R-Calif.) attended one of them.

 

By Jason Doré, Assistant Chief Counsel for External Affairs/Director of the Office of Information

California small businesses must overcome a heavy load of often onerous and complex regulatory obstacles at the state and federal level in order to survive and thrive. This is what small business owners told Advocacy as the office conducted regulatory reform roundtables in Modesto, Sacramento and Santa Clarita and visited 10 small businesses throughout the state.

“It’s becoming very, very difficult to do business in the state of California,” one small business owner told Advocacy in Santa Clarita. “Regulations are really affecting our business every single day.”

While small business owners had numerous gripes about federal regulations, concerns with state and local regulations dominated the discussions.

“If we don’t start turning around this avalanche of regulations, businesses will continue to leave,” one frustrated small business owner told Advocacy in Sacramento.

California regulations impacting the hiring and employment process raised particular concerns: “You have no rights as an employer in California when you’re hiring people,” a familiar refrain we heard expressed throughout California. “You are not providing an incentive for us to create jobs. You are actually de-incentivizing us from hiring people.”

Small business owners expressed their frustration with the overall burden and reach of federal regulations in conjunction with the state and local regulations. “Why make it so hard that we can’t stay in business?,” a Modesto small business owner asked.

Californians feel the impact of new proposed rules and regulatory uncertainty at each level of government: “Every time you guys make a rule, it really has an impact,” a Sacramento small business owner exclaimed. “When California or the federal government sneezes, small business catches a cold.”

The particular regulations at issue were as diverse as the terrain and the people of the state of California: Federal permitting for development projects required by the natural historic preservation act, the IRS 1099 C requirement for car dealers, predatory lawsuits under the Americans with Disability Act, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s credit reporting penalties, Department of Transportation’s procurement rules, outdated science used by various federal agencies to implement requirements on the fishing industry, electronic logging device requirements for small truckers, and many more.

The pure number and expansive nature of the regulations on the book was a common concern.

“Ninety-nine percent of small businesses are not in compliance with something,” a California small business advocate told Advocacy.

While they are exasperated with the regulatory landscape facing California small businesses, the small businesses we visited and heard from at the roundtable meetings  were grateful to discover they have a voice in Washington, D.C., and an administration who is committed to regulatory reform.  One roundtable participant told us, “Big business is in Washington, too, working to put us out of business.”

The small business community did, however, express their disappointment that there was not a similar effort or office on the state and local level.

“We wish the two-for-one executive order would be applied at the state level,” a small business stakeholder stated in regards to President Trump’s executive order requiring two regulations to be eliminated for each one that is promulgated.

Those attending the roundtables also expressed the importance of small businesses engaging in the regulatory arena.

“If you don’t get engaged in some form, you will get crushed,” warned a California small businessman at the conclusion of our Sacramento roundtable.

Advocacy was in Modesto, Sacramento and Santa Clarita, Calif. for Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtable meetings April 30-May 3.

Can’t get to a roundtable near you? Fill out this form and tell us about your federal regulatory burdens. We will pass this information on to the appropriate agency and use it in the planning of upcoming Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables. 

Jason Doré is the Assistant Chief Counsel for External Affairs/Director of the Office of Information. Doré can be reached at  Jason.dore@sba.gov.

 

 

ByOffice of Advocacy

Site Visit: Michigan Company Shapes Constructive Criticism for NAFTA Revision

By Zvi Rosen, Assistant Chief Counsel

On March 13, the Office of Advocacy had the opportunity to tour the facility operated by Vicount Industries in Farmington Hills, Mich. Vicount is in the business of designing and developing metal stamping dies and components, mainly for the automotive industry, which uses its dies and components to stamp metal parts for use in automobiles. The tour was led by Joe Padula, the president of Vicount, who has worked at Vicount since the 1980s.

We were given an impressive tour of Vicount’s facility, seeing numerous pieces of equipment including a giant, 2,000-ton press, as well as seeing examples of their handiwork, including parts for various cars and trucks.  We also learned more about the progressive die stamping process that Vicount and other companies in its sector use to press parts. The process involves each section of a sheet of metal going through a series of adjustments in the press, and then the sheet is fed forward and the next pressing is completed. By the time the relevant piece of the metal sheet reaches the end of the press, it is a complete part.

While on the tour, Advocacy staff had a chance to discuss changes in the industry since NAFTA went into effect, as well as hearing a common complaint in the manufacturing sector – the shortage of qualified personnel for skilled manufacturing positions. NAFTA served to change the position of Vicount and other small businesses that made dies for stamping – instead of automakers doing stamping themselves, many either spun off or closed their stamping divisions, and new “first tier” contractors came to do most of the stamping work. The bulk of this work is now done in Mexico, so the stamping die will be manufactured in the United States and then Vicount or another company in the sector will send the dies to Mexico for use in its stamping facilities. Vicount has learned not to send its employees along with the dies, but rather to wait until the dies manage to clear customs, which they say can be a disappointingly lengthy process. Padula urged that a revised NAFTA include provisions for frictionless export of industrial parts from the United States to Mexico, so their employees would not need to wait for customs to clear the dies in order to more quickly complete their contractual obligations and see car parts coming from the stamping dies that Vicount makes.

 

Advocacy was in Detroit for a Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtable and NAFTA Modernization Outreach Meeting on March 13.

Can’t get to a roundtable near you? Fill out this form and tell us about your federal regulatory burdens. We will pass this information on to the appropriate agency and use it in the planning of upcoming Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables. 

Zvi Rosen is an Assistant Chief Counsel for Advocacy whose portfolio includes intellectual property. Rosen can be reached at zvi.rosen@sba.gov.

 

Related:

“Regulations are unfair and deceptive!” Michigan & Wisconsin Small Business Owners Describe their Regulatory Burdens to Advocacy
By Claudia Rodgers, Senior Counsel

Site Visit: RBV Contracting Digs Detroit
By Janis Reyes, Assistant Chief Counsel

Site Visit: Architectural Salvage Warehouse Preserves the History of Detroit
By Janis Reyes, Assistant Chief Counsel

Detroit Small Business Owners Want the Feds to be Less of a Speed Bump
By Brian Headd, Research Economist

Site Visit: Wigwam Knocks the Socks off its Competitors in Unraveling Apparel Industry 
By Janis Reyes, Assistant Chief Counsel

Advocacy Gets a Taste of the Regulatory Problems of Wisconsin Small Businesses
By Charles Maresca, Director of Interagency Affairs

Don’t Bilk the Cow: Wisconsin Dairy Farmers Concerned with NAFTA Re-Negotiations 
By Joe Knilans, Rural Affairs Advocate

Site Visit: Family Business Puts the Pedal to the Metal on Reducing Regulations
By Nick Ivory, Regional Legislative and Regulatory Manager

ByOffice of Advocacy

Don’t Bilk the Cow: Wisconsin Dairy Farmers Concerned with NAFTA Re-Negotiations

By Joe Knilans, Rural Affairs Advocate

President Donald J. Trump made modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) a priority of his administration. As a result, the Office of Advocacy is conducting NAFTA Modernization Roundtables across the country to engage small business owners, trade associations and local government entities.

The Office of Advocacy is conducting these NAFTA Modernization Roundtables to implement the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act (TFTEA) passed by Congress in 2016. The TFTEA directs the Office of Advocacy to gather and report to Congress the views of small business of a possible renegotiated NAFTA agreement.

One of the locations chosen for these roundtables by the Office of Advocacy was Milwaukee. While in the state, the NAFTA team secured a site visit to a dairy farm and cheese factory.

The first farm visit for the team was the Crave Brothers Farm in the town of Waterloo. The Crave Brothers started this farm in 1980 milking just 57 cows. Today, they milk 1,500 cows and till 1,700 acres for crops. All of the milk that they produce on their farm is used in the cheese factory; additionally they purchase milk from a neighbor’s 800-cow farm. They also maintain a manure digester that produces enough electricity to supply their farm, the cheese factory and 300 neighboring homes.

Across the road from the dairy farm sits the award-winning Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese Factory. Their cheeses come in many different forms: Mozzarella Cheese Rope, fresh Mozzarella Cheese and Mascarpone. Their cheese is sold in local grocery stores as well as nationwide chains such as Whole Foods.

One of the brothers’ concerns with re-negotiations of NAFTA is losing the open market with Mexico that many Wisconsin dairies have at this time. According to Mexico’s Ministry of the Economy, Trade and NAFTA Office in Washington DC, Mexico is Wisconsin’s second largest export market. That is an increase up from seventh in 1993. Wisconsin farmers exported to Mexico $176 million of soybeans in 2017. Wisconsin also leads the nation in the export of bovine semen, prepared/preserved cranberries and sweet corn according to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

The Crave brothers were also concerned about restrictions with the Canadian market. They would like to expand into the Canadian dairy market; however, Canada has a central pricing sector due to this particular industry being excluded from the original NAFTA negotiations in the early 1990’s. The dairy prices have since been set by the Canadian Dairy Commission. Unfortunately, this tightens the market for U.S. dairy products for Canadian consumers, thus not allowing the Crave brothers and other American farmers to market their products in Canada as a viable competitor.

The second farm visit the team made was with Rosy-Lane Holsteins LLC, located in Watertown. Also attending this meeting were representatives from the Wisconsin Pork Association, the Wisconsin Farm Bureau and Edge (a Dairy Cooperative). Rosy-Lane has been owned and operated since 1965 by Lloyd and Daphne Holterman. Together, the pair milks 870 cows and tills 1,755 acres of crops. Rosy-Lane also exports and imports bio-science products with Canadian partners and is concerned that NAFTA renegotiations could disrupt this agreement. Mr. Holterman has recently visited Canada and feels that Canada is getting the best of the NAFTA agreement. His concern is with the central milk pricing that Canada implements. He feels that Wisconsin farmers are at a disadvantage to the highly subsidized milk industry in Canada. These concerns were also discussed by representatives from the Farm Bureau and the Dairy Cooperative when we met with them.

The representative from the Wisconsin Pork Association was also concerned that renegotiations could change the favorable agreements that they have with Canada and Mexico. Just as other industries in the NAFTA agreement, the Agra business has mixed feelings on modernization of NAFTA. Some feel it is working just fine and others feel it can be improved. We understand the importance of these issues and are working to gather and compile all of the relevant data from the nation-wide roundtables and will be forwarding this compiled data to Congress as mandated. We appreciate all of the input from the Wisconsin businesses and look forward to helping improve the business climate.

 

Advocacy was in Wisconsin for Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtable and NAFTA Modernization Outreach Meetings on March 15-16.

Can’t get to a roundtable near you? Fill out this form and tell us about your federal regulatory burdens. We will pass this information on to the appropriate agency and use it in the planning of upcoming Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables. 

Joe Knilans is the Rural Affairs Advocate. He can be reached at joseph.knilans@sba.gov.

 

Related:

“Regulations are unfair and deceptive!” Michigan & Wisconsin Small Business Owners Describe their Regulatory Burdens to Advocacy
By Claudia Rodgers, Senior Counsel

Site Visit: RBV Contracting Digs Detroit
By Janis Reyes, Assistant Chief Counsel

Site Visit: Architectural Salvage Warehouse Preserves the History of Detroit
By Janis Reyes, Assistant Chief Counsel

Detroit Small Business Owners Want the Feds to be Less of a Speed Bump
By Brian Headd, Research Economist

Site Visit: Wigwam Knocks the Socks off its Competitors in Unraveling Apparel Industry 
By Janis Reyes, Assistant Chief Counsel

Advocacy Gets a Taste of the Regulatory Problems of Wisconsin Small Businesses
By Charles Maresca, Director of Interagency Affairs

Site Visit: Michigan Company Shapes Constructive Criticism for NAFTA Revision
By Zvi Rosen, Assistant Chief Counsel

Site Visit: Family Business Puts the Pedal to the Metal on Reducing Regulations
By Nick Ivory, Regional Legislative and Regulatory Manager

ByOffice of Advocacy

Site Visit: Wigwam Knocks the Socks off its Competitors in Unraveling Apparel Industry

Wigwam Socks

Advocacy staff visited Wigwam Mills in Wisconsin during a recent Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtable.

By Janis Reyes, Assistant Chief Counsel

Advocacy toured the Sheboygan, Wisconsin, headquarters of Wigwam Mills last week, a small business that knits 20,000 pairs of socks a day from more than 200 machines in its 200,000-square-foot facility. Since 1905, Wigwam has thrived amid the unraveling apparel industry in the U.S., expanding their line of woolen socks to include socks for athletics, outdoors and workwear.

Advocacy is hosting Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables across the country and visiting small businesses in an effort to hear directly from small businesses about what regulations concern them.

The need to develop a skilled workforce is a common thread that Advocacy has heard from small businesses across the country.

Advocacy spoke to Wigwam Mills Chairman of the Board and CEO Robert Cheseboro, Jr., a third-generation owner who expressed pride with the quality of his products and the fact that this company is still manufacturing products in the United States.     Cheseboro stated that many textile and apparel factories have closed and moved their operations to Mexico, due to the price and the scarcity of an available skilled labor force in the United States. Cheseboro stated it takes three years to train someone on their automated knitting machines and these operators can make $21-$22 per hour.  They also have hourly positions that make $13-$14 per hour.

Cheseboro stated that Wigwam’s main regulatory concern is a stable international trade policy. This company is most concerned with the current renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), as 70 percent of their socks are exported to the cold-weather country of Canada. The current negotiation has continued for more than 9 months, and the uncertainty is affecting their bottom line. They need a resolution to this agreement, to know what the rules are and estimate the prices of their products to their Canadians suppliers. If they do not have this finality, their suppliers may go to businesses in other countries, Cheseboro told us.

Wigwam is also struggling to comply with NAFTA rules regarding the origin of their products, as they require that the yarn be purchased in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico or be accessed a high tariff. This company prides itself with making its product in the United States; however, there is a declining domestic wool supply. They are seeking a waiver in this requirement if domestic supplies are unavailable.  Advocacy staff told Wigwam that we value this input, as our office is now required to report to Congress on small business views on NAFTA modernization and their dealings with international trade to Canada and Mexico.

Advocacy staffers were awed by the automation adopted throughout the Wigwam headquarters, from the rows of machines that can stitch an intricate sock in minutes to other machines that packaged the socks. We met many of the friendly quality control workers that attach those famous stickers, and toured their old fashioned breakroom complete with a wreath of socks. The tour of the Wigwam headquarters ended of course with a giant pile of missing and defective socks; the company donates 80,000 pairs of these imperfect pairs to homeless organizations in the area. We learned everything about socks and the concerns of apparel manufacturers at our day at Wigwam, a small business that has been knit into the fabric of Wisconsin for a century.


Advocacy was in Wisconsin for Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtable and NAFTA Modernization Outreach Meetings on March 15-16.

Can’t get to a roundtable near you? Fill out this form and tell us about your federal regulatory burdens. We will pass this information on to the appropriate agency and use it in the planning of upcoming Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables. 

Janis Reyes is an Assistant Chief Counsel for Advocacy whose portfolio includes labor and immigration. She can be reached at janis.reyes@sba.gov.

 

Related:

“Regulations are unfair and deceptive!” Michigan & Wisconsin Small Business Owners Describe their Regulatory Burdens to Advocacy
By Claudia Rodgers, Senior Counsel

Site Visit: RBV Contracting Digs Detroit
By Janis Reyes, Assistant Chief Counsel

Site Visit: Architectural Salvage Warehouse Preserves the History of Detroit
By Janis Reyes, Assistant Chief Counsel

Detroit Small Business Owners Want the Feds to be Less of a Speed Bump
By Brian Headd, Research Economist

Don’t Bilk the Cow: Wisconsin Dairy Farmers Concerned with NAFTA Re-Negotiations
By Joe Knilans, Rural Affairs Advocate

Advocacy Gets a Taste of the Regulatory Problems of Wisconsin Small Businesses
By Charles Maresca, Director of Interagency Affairs

Site Visit: Michigan Company Shapes Constructive Criticism for NAFTA Revision
By Zvi Rosen, Assistant Chief Counsel

Site Visit: Family Business Puts the Pedal to the Metal on Reducing Regulations
By Nick Ivory, Regional Legislative and Regulatory Manager

ByOffice of Advocacy

Join us in California for Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables

The SBA Office of Advocacy is an independent office that serves as a voice for small business within the federal government, the watchdog for the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) and the source of small business statistics. Advocacy advances the views and concerns of small business before Congress, the White House, federal agencies, federal courts, and state policy makers.

President Donald J. Trump has made regulatory reform a centerpiece of his agenda and has signed two executive orders addressing the regulatory burden faced by the private sector. Advocacy has a unique and important role to aid agency implementation of the executive orders. To assist in accomplishing the goals of the executive orders, the office has developed a Regulatory Reform Action Plan.

As part of this plan, Advocacy is hosting Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables across the country in an effort to hear directly from small businesses about what regulations concern them the most. This is an opportunity for small business owners and stakeholders to meet in-person with Advocacy senior staff. The next set of roundtables will be in California the week of April 30. These roundtables are free and open to the public.

Please join us in California April 30-May 3:

Modesto, CA – Monday, April 30, DoubleTree Modesto, 1150 Ninth Street, Modesto, CA 95354.

Link to register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sba-office-of-advocacy-regional-regulatory-roundtable-modesto-ca-tickets-45246053163

Sacramento, CA – Wednesday, May 2, SAFE Credit Union – Corporate Headquarters , 2295 Iron Point Rd #100, Folsom, CA 95630.

Link to register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sba-office-of-advocacy-regional-regulatory-roundtable-sacramento-ca-tickets-45209244066

Santa Clarita, CA – Thursday, May 3, Small Business Development Center, College of the Canyons, 26455 Rockwell  Canyon Road, University Center, Santa Clarita, CA 91355

Link to register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sba-office-of-advocacy-regional-regulatory-roundtable-santa-clarita-ca-tickets-45243391201

In order for this regulatory reform effort to be successful, we need small business participation.
This will be an opportunity for small business leaders to educate Advocacy and federal agencies through firsthand accounts of how they are impacted by federal regulations. The information gathered at these roundtables will be utilized to inform agencies, congress and the public on what specific regulations can be modified or removed to help small businesses.

For more information regarding Advocacy’s efforts to help reduce the regulatory burden on small businesses and upcoming roundtable events, please visit: https://www.sba.gov/advocacy/regulatory-reform.

 

ByOffice of Advocacy

Small Businesses Need Relief!

Atlanta Business Owners Feel the Pinch of Regulation

By Claudia Rodgers, Senior Counsel

At the most recent Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtable held in Atlanta, Georgia, the Office of Advocacy heard from local small businesses about the weight of their federal regulatory burden. “Small businesses need help to comply with the myriad of rules and regulations that are out there and that affect their business,” stated a small transportation company owner. While many businesses would like to expand and grow, it has become “a challenge for us to just keep up with the burdens the federal government places on us.”

Advocacy has been hosting these regional meetings in an effort to hear first-hand from small businesses across the country which federal regulations are most costly and problematic for them. President Trump signed two important Executive Orders in January, 2017 that instructed federal regulatory agencies to review their current rules to see which can be revised, reformed or eliminated, and to form a task force at every agency to help in making these decisions. Advocacy’s Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables are an opportunity for small entities to speak directly with the office charged with being the voice of small business in front of the federal agencies making those decisions. Attendees at this most recent roundtable were clearly anxious to speak up and be heard about the economic impact federal rules have on their businesses.

A home health care company described the additional costly burdens that the Affordable Care Act regulations placed on their businesses, costing them at least $10,000 more per month. In addition this business is “no longer able to offer health care plans to their employees that may help them the most because the new rules are so restrictive.” The sentiment that the federal government does not truly understand how small businesses operate was a shared frustration during the roundtable. Small businesses felt that this lack of understanding has led to federal regulations that don’t make sense in the real world and for their businesses.

A used car dealership owner described how the IRS 1099C regulation does not make sense for his business or his customers and how a simple exemption for auto dealers could be an easy fix. “The cost to our business is tremendous, not to mention the wasted man hours and unnecessary paperwork,” he declared.

Another common complaint heard around the table was there are numerous complicated regulations and with differing ways they can be interpreted. Without clear direction from the federal government, small businesses stated they feel as if they are left to spend endless hours and dollars to try and interpret the meaning of the rules and how to comply. The “mom and pop shops have to do it all – run the business, be the compliance officer, and deal with all of the paperwork,” a small owner stated.

Atlanta small business owners were grateful Advocacy came to them to hear their concerns and they pleaded for assistance in regulatory relief.  EPA, Department of Labor, IRS, Department of Transportation, and the Department of Health & Human Services are just some of the federal regulatory agencies that small businesses in this area say have issued costly and burdensome regulations in recent years that are weighing down their business. The Office of Advocacy will continue to work with these and other federal agencies to ensure that these small business voices and specific complaints are heard and considered during this exciting period of regulatory reform.

The Office of Advocacy is compiling specific regulatory complaints and suggestions for improvement as these roundtables are being held across the country and continues to work with federal regulatory agencies to ensure these important small business voices are heard in Washington, DC. For more information on the regulatory reform effort or where the next Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtable will be held, please visit www.sba/gov/advocacy/regulatory-reform.

Advocacy was in Atlanta for Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtable and NAFTA Modernization Outreach Meetings on April 10-11th.

Can’t get to a roundtable near you? Fill out this form and tell us about your federal regulatory burdens. We will pass this information on to the appropriate agency and use it in the planning of upcoming Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables. 

Claudia Rodgers is Advocacy’s Senior Counsel. She can be reached at claudia.rodgers@sba.gov.

 

Related:

Georgia gets Grubby at Area Roundtable Discussion
By Nick Ivory, Regional Legislative and Regulatory Manager

ByOffice of Advocacy

Site Visit: Small Business Brings Sizzling Regulatory Concerns to the Table

 

By Nick Ivory, Regional Legislative and Regulatory Manager

Advocacy visited the restaurant that is widely credited with being the birthplace of the Fajita, the Original Ninfa’s restaurant on Navigation Blvd in Houston. Ninfa’s was established in 1973. “Mama” Ninfa Laurenzo began grilling skirt steak and serving it in tortillas from her family’s struggling tortilla factory. She called the dish “Tacos al Carbon,” which would eventually come to be widely known as Fajitas.

In 2006, Legacy Restaurants acquired the Original Ninfa’s and currently owns and operates four other Ninfa’s locations throughout the state of Texas. We sat down with Legacy CEO Jonathan Horowitz as well as Melissa Stewart, Executive Director of the Greater Houston Restaurant Association, as they served up their concerns on federal regulations affecting Ninfa’s and the restaurant industry, in general.

The Department of Labor’s overtime regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act were highlighted as a concern during the course of our conversation. Although it was never became effective due to being struck down by a federal court, DOL plans on releasing a new rule on this issue next year. Under final rules issued by DOL in 2016, most workers making under $47,476 per year would have been eligible for overtime; up from $23,660 which was the figure set in 2004. Horowitz noted that this rule would be difficult to implement because Ninfa’s employs roughly 140 employees, and scheduling these workers to minimize overtime hours would be very complicated for them. It could prevent many employees from working more hours and being promoted.

Advocacy has held many roundtables across the country and submitted a comment letter to DOL on this very issue.

Another topic of discussion was the Department of Health and Human Service rules and requirements in regard to the Affordable Care Act. The recordkeeping and paperwork requirements required by HHS were described as tedious and burdensome, which was a common theme expressed when Advocacy receives feedback from small businesses on ACA compliance. Other recurring complaints that small businesses have with ACA compliance is the difficulty distinguishing between part-time and full-time employees and the tax ramifications for insuring employees.

Horowitz emphasized that government agencies should not allow their rulemaking to work against small business. As Advocacy has heard time and time again, assistance with compliance ahead of time rather than punishment after the fact with burdensome fines is always the most helpful tact when it comes to government oversight. When the conversation reached the U.S. tax code, they did express optimism in the new tax plan passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump last year, noting that the reduction in the rates and write-offs for expenses will be helpful to their growth and prosperity.

Advocacy was in San Antonio and Houston, Texas for Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtable and NAFTA Modernization Outreach Meetings on March 19-20.

Can’t get to a roundtable near you? Fill out this form and tell us about your federal regulatory burdens. We will pass this information on to the appropriate agency and use it in the planning of upcoming Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables. 

Nick Ivory is the Regional Legislative and Regulatory Manager. Ivory can be reached at nicholas.ivory@sba.gov.

Related:

Site Visit: Houston has a Regulatory Problem that Advocacy Aims to Solve
By David Rostker, Assistant Chief Counsel

Federal Procurement, NAFTA, and Agricultural Issues Highlight San Antonio Roundtable
By Bruce Lundegren, Assistant Chief Counsel

“Stop the Madness and Fix the Mess!”
Texas Small Businesses Plead for Regulatory Relief
By Claudia Rodgers, Senior Counsel

Site Visit: Advocacy Staff Learns About Role of NAFTA during Visit with Owners of Concord Supply 
By Lindsay Abate, Regulatory Economist

Site Visit: Museum Brings Offshore Oil Industry Concerns Ashore
By Prianka Sharma, Assistant Chief Counsel

Site Visit: Plant Spins Regulatory Concerns Round and Round with Advocacy
By Zvi Rosen, Assistant Chief Counsel