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Summary of March 12 Congressional Family Business Caucus

 

Pat Soldano opened the roundtable by thanking Members of Congress and family-owned businesses for joining the fourth event in coordination with the Congressional Family Business Caucus. Pat highlighted the role of Family Enterprise USA (FEUSA) in advocating for small, medium, and large family-owned businesses of all industries and their lifetime of savings. Pat noted the theme of the roundtable – workforce issues – and highlighted that the event featured both owners and employees of family-owned businesses.

 

We first heard from Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL), who discussed his family’s experience operating a family-owned business and his past work as a family business consultant. Rep. Schneider stressed that family-owned businesses are the fabric of local communities. Schneider also discussed the importance of the Congressional Family Business Caucus and communicating with Members of Congress and state and local elected officials on the importance of family-owned businesses and their impact to communities.

We then heard from Rep. John Duarte (R-CA) who highlighted his background as a fourth-generation family farmer and business owner and his experience with family-business issues, including tax challenges and the impact of inflation. Rep. Duarte noted the impact of policy decisions on family-owned businesses, including reduced access to capital, and expressed optimism that the House Ways and Means Committee will adopt pro-family-business policies in future legislation, such as farm savings accounts. Duarte also discussed the impact of state policies on family-owned businesses, including the California Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) which he is concerned ultimately encourages businesses to relocate out-of-state. Finally, Duarte discussed institutional ownership of family-owned business and stressed that family ownership is more durable over time.   

Pat Soldano then introduced the family-owned business representatives participating in the roundtable discussion. Ron Nash (President of Laticrete International, Inc.) discussed the unintended consequences of government policies on family-owned businesses, including limited access to materials and a lack of skilled labor in the United States. Nash also highlighted support for pro-business policies, including tax incentives for research and development (R&D). Brian Dombach (President of GSM Industrial) then discussed challenges in accessing skilled labor and increasing labor costs. He also highlighted GSM Industrial’s family foundation which supports local initiatives.

Paige Kavooras (Executive Vice President of Global, a 1st Flagship Company) and Nichole DiGidio (Chief Human Resources Officer at Global, a 1st Flagship Company) then discussed Global’s multi-generational employees and noted that family-business employees are at the heart of family business decisions. Kavooras noted difficulties in accessing maritime skilled labor due to a lack of trade and vocational education and highlighted internship and apprenticeship programs to incentivize job training. DeGidio discussed the benefits of being a family business employee, including a connection to the local community and family business values. DeGidio also discussed challenges to family business operations due to the cost of healthcare and other benefits.

We then heard from Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) who highlighted her family-owned newspaper business and her role on the House Ways and Means Committee. Tenney noted that family business employees are part of the business’s family and thanked the family businesses in attendance for sharing their stories with Members of Congress. Tenney also discussed the challenges of operating a family-owned business, including healthcare costs, access to labor, and competitive benefits, but expressed optimism that family businesses will flourish in the future.

Robert Loggins (Director of External Affairs at Bush Brothers & Company) then discussed the impact of government policies on business decisions and the role of family-owned businesses in providing for their employees. Loggins highlighted Bush Brothers & Company’s employee benefits and incentive programs, which have provided significant financial assistance to employees.

We then heard from Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-NY) who highlighted his role on the House Small Business Committee. Molinaro noted that family-owned businesses include small, medium, and large businesses and that over seventy percent of new jobs are created by small and medium businesses. Molinaro then discussed the impact of family-owned businesses on their communities and their commitment to their employees and neighbors. Molinaro expressed disappointment that family-owned businesses have left communities like in Upstate New York but also expressed optimism in future entrepreneurship.  

Dennis Wang (CEO of Golden Star Technology) then discussed his role as a second-generation family business owner and family businesses’ commitment to providing for their employees. Henry Ngo (Senior Vice President of Golden Star Technology) noted that family-owned businesses possess core values and responsibilities for both customers and employees and stressed that family-owned businesses commonly tackle challenges like shortages of resources. Ngo also reiterated challenges discussed by other businesses such as recruitment and retention of skilled workers.

Chris Paz (President of Trophy Automotive Dealer Group) noted that car dealerships historically are backbones of the local community, including by engaging in local philanthropic efforts like little league sports. Paz stressed that publicly-owned companies are less likely to engage in local philanthropy and community initiatives. Paz highlighted the risk of consolidation in the automotive industry and the loss of small, family-owned car dealerships due to technology costs and regulatory costs. Rep. Carol Miller (R-WV) then discussed her family’s multi-generational car dealership. Rep. Miller also noted that most Members of Congress are unfamiliar with the everyday challenges of owning a business.

Pat Soldano then presented the 2024 FEUSA Annual Family Business Survey results that featured 789 respondents from 40 states. Pat highlighted 87 percent of businesses in the United States are family-owned businesses and are responsible for 83 million jobs, 59 percent of the private workforce and 54 percent of private-sector GDP. Pat also highlighted that family-owned businesses represent numerous industries, including the manufacturing, construction, real estate, and retail industries, and 81 percent of family-owned businesses have been in operation for over 20 years. Pat also noted that 50 percent of family-owned businesses support local charities and 46 percent provide above-average benefits to their employees. Pat then discussed tax and economic policies of concern to survey respondents, including income, estate, and wealth taxes. Pat highlighted that over 52 percent of survey respondents would invest in their businesses if they paid less in taxes, and 30 percent would increase employee pay. Finally, Pat shared top workforce challenges to family-owned businesses, including recruitment and benefits.

Finally, Pat Soldano presented the Family Enterprise USA video “Unsung Heroes: Workforce Challenges of Family Businesses,” which focuses on multi-generational family business employees and investment in employees. Family business representatives shared several workforce challenges including access to skilled labor and immigration policy.

The workforce roundtable was then followed by a reception, where Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-TX) offered remarks.

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The need for fact-based reporting of issues important to multi generational businesses and protecting a lifetime of savings has never been greater. Now more than ever, multi generational businesses and family businesses are under fire. That's why Family Enterprise USA is passionately working to increase the awareness of issues important to generationally-owned family businesses built on hard work, while continuing to strengthen our presence on Capitol Hill. The issues we fight for or against with Congress in Washington DC include high income tax rates, possible elimination of valuation discounts, increase in capital gains tax, enactment of a wealth tax, and the continued burden of the gift tax, estate tax and generation skipping tax.


Family Enterprise USA promotes generationally owned family business creation, growth, viability, and sustainability by advocating for family businesses and their lifetime of savings with Congress in Washington DC.  Since 2007, Family Enterprise USA has represented and celebrated all sizes, professions and industries of family-owned enterprises and multi-generational employers. It is a bi-partisan 501.c3 organization. Family foundations can donate.


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