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‘Workforce’ Issues Highlight Latest Congressional Family Business Caucus with House Member Co-Chairs Schneider, Tenney, and Arrington Speaking at Event

 

Preliminary Findings of New Family Enterprise USA Annual Family Business Survey Unveiled; Federal Debt, Taxes High on List of Concerns

 

The first bipartisan Congressional Family Business Caucus meeting of the year saw six members of Congress and over 40 family business executives gather in the Longworth House Office Building.

 

The meeting brought together six Congressional members, including co-chairs Brad Schneider (D-IL), Claudia Tenney (R-NY), and Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-TX).

Other House Members who spoke at the event were Rep. John Duarte (R-CA), Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-NY), and Rep. Carol Miller (R-WV). The meeting was held March 12.

The Caucus has 42 House members with the mission of educating Congress and raising awareness for America’s family businesses, the largest private employer in the country. Family businesses account for 83.3 million jobs and contribute $7.7 trillion annually to U.S. gross domestic product, according to research.

In addition, Family Enterprise USA’s President, Pat Soldano, presented the preliminary findings of its new 2024 Family Enterprise USA Annual Family Business Survey. Family Enterprise USA, based here, is a bipartisan advocate for family business and helped organize the event. The topic of the meeting was “Workforce Challenges.”

House members in attendance spoke on the importance of family businesses to the economy and they listened to six family-owned businesses executives, all non-family employees, tell their stories.

House Members Speak on Family Business

Rep. Schneider started the meeting by discussing his family’s experience operating a family-owned business and his past consulting work. Schneider stressed that “family-owned businesses are the fabric of local communities.”

Rep. Duarte spoke of his background as a fourth-generation family farmer and business owner in California, and his experiences with family-business issues, including tax challenges and the impact of inflation.

“I understand the impact of policy decisions on family-owned businesses, including reduced access to capital,” he said. Duarte, on the House Ways and Means Committee, said he “will adopt pro-family-business policies in future legislation, such as farm savings accounts.” He added that, “family ownership is more durable over time.”

Rep. Tenney highlighted her Upstate New York family-owned newspaper business and how her role on the House Ways and Means Committee may be helpful. She noted the challenges of operating a family-owned business, including high healthcare costs, access to labor, and competitive benefits, but expressed optimism that family businesses “will flourish in the future.”

Rep. Molinaro, highlighting his role on the House Small Business Committee, said over 70% of “new jobs are created by small and medium businesses.” He added he was disappointed seeing many family-owned businesses leaving communities in his Upstate New York district but was “also optimistic about future entrepreneurship in the area.”

At the meeting, Rep. Miller discussed her family’s multi-generational car dealership business, saying “most members of Congress are unfamiliar with the everyday challenges of owning and running a business.”

The workforce Caucus was then followed by a reception, where co-chair Rep. Arrington offered his remarks to group, with a focus on how to manage in an era of political polarization.

Real-World Family Business Stories

The non-family employees who told their real-world family business stories were from Golden Star Technologies, Trophy Automotive Dealer Group, Global A1st Flagship, Laticrete International, Bush Bros. and Co., and GSM Industrial.

One such story came from non-family member Chris Paz, President at family-owned and Los Angeles-based Trophy Automotive Dealer Group LLC, representing such brands as Mercedes, Kia, and Nissan.

“Every day I see the truly unfair tax burdens and non-market-driven regulations, such as expensive electric vehicle requirements, that are driving small auto dealerships out of business,”

Henry Ngo, Senior Vice President at Golden Star Technology in Cerritos, Calif., discussed the severe lack of talented professionals.

“The labor laws and immigration policies have a huge impact on our business,” Ngo told the Caucus attendees. “As a business founded by immigrants from Taiwan, there is a critical shortage of skilled professionals in the technology industry,” he said. “We used to rely on trade and vocational schools, but these are gone. We’ve had to learn how to do more with less.”

Lawmakers at the Caucus also heard how well-intended government policies can go awry.

“Our biggest concern is dealing with policies that end up with unintended outcomes,” said Ron Nash, President, COO, Laticrete International, based in Bethany, Conn. Nash is a non-family executive at Laticrete, an international tile installation systems company. The stark reality, according to Nash, is “America needs to start inventing again.”

In addition, he said, research and development tax policies “need to be revised so companies can start investing in America, we no longer are a country of doers and makers, we need to get back to that, back to investing in America.”

Another non-family employee, Nichole DeGidio, Vice President of Human Resources at Global A1 Flagship, a Defense Department contractor based in Orange County, Calif., explained how investing for the long-term creates stability and confidence.

“Working for a family business, I see the real commitment from owners to employees,” said DeGidio. She has worked for Global A1 Flagship for 16 years.

“In family businesses we see how the decisions are made for long-term sustainability and not for short-term profits, and opinions matter in our company. When we have stability, it creates confidence, and that’s why we have so many multi-generational, long-term employees,” she said.

The Tennessee-based bean company, Bush Brothers and Company, had its Director of External Affairs, Robert Loggins, a non-family member executive, focus his remarks on attracting Gen Z and Millennials to the workforce.

“We’re a rigorous employer in a small town and its tough attracting young people, but we feel this as more of an opportunity than an obstacle once they come and take a look,” said Loggins to attendees. “To keep them interested, we focus on being a great place to work and grow a career over time—and we offer great incentives including distributions of over five hundred million dollars to employees over the last twenty-five years.”

Brian Dombach, President of GSM Industrial and a non-family member at the 200-employee industrial services company, echoed the industry wide issue of finding skilled workers.

“Our number one workforce issue is finding welders, technicians, hourly workers, ductwork workers,” Dombach said. “We just can’t find them, it’s something that needs to be addressed across all industries.”

The next Congressional Family Business Caucus is set for May 14. The topic for that meeting will be “Succession” planning.

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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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