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                                                           ufacturing’s future in the United States as long as PMA’s advocacy efforts can make things more even-handed on the regulatory side.”
Such efforts already have paid big dividends, according to Zawacki.
“PMA’s advocacy and lobbying pro- grams have helped PMA members by saving thousands of manufacturing jobs in the United States,” he says, “and have led to policies that are beneficial to manufacturing—such as ending the steel tariffs and extending the R&D tax credit.
“The association’s Capitol Hill visits give all of us a voice in D.C.,” Zawacki continues. “You begin to realize when you make these visits just how impor- tant they are. I remember my repre- sentative in Washington, D.C. saying, ‘Where are you guys? The opposition is at every one of my meetings, but I don’t hear enough from you. Even though I am on your side, it is nice to see the business owners.’
“I don’t care if your company is small
or large,” Zawacki adds. “You have to be big enough to have a voice, and behind us we have the full power of PMA.”
Ajax also notes how it all began with the Section 201 tariffs, and the lessons learned then that guide PMA’s advoca- cy efforts today.
“PMA single-handedly lobbied to repeal the steel tariffs after our material prices went up overnight, making us uncompetitive in the global marketplace,” says Ajax. “We were up against the big steel lobby. PMA held a rally at E.J. Ajax that brought dozens of our competitors. We were on the front page of the Min- neapolis and St. Paul newspapers, as well as on the front page of the New York Times. After the repeal, I met a steel lob- byist who told me, ‘You guys put up a good fight.’ They had millions of dollars against our tens of thousands of dollars, but we won—a David and Goliath battle.”
Training Makes the Difference
“We all can buy essentially the same equipment,” says Ajax, explaining U.S.
competitiveness on a global stage, “but it comes down to the skill set that our colleagues have. We have the ability to create 20 times more value than do our competitors in China and India. And, of course, our colleagues earn 20 times what someone in China or India earns.”
That value creation requires train- ing, and PMA and its Educational Foundation (PMAEF) have stepped to the plate over the years to deliver the training needed to help member com- panies succeed. In the 1980s, notes Zawacki, GR Spring & Stamping joined PMA to make training programs avail- able to all of its associates, and has been an active member ever since.
“All GR Spring & Stamping associates have been exposed to PMA’s training pro- grams, which are part of each employee’s orientation,” Zawacki says. “We would rather have a new associate without press experience be taught the proper way to do things, than an experienced new hire come in with bad habits.”
Over time PMA has developed train-
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