Congressional Family Business Caucus Meets for Third Time with Family Businesses, Industry Leaders on Capitol Hill


Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill), as well as Caucus Members Reps. Nick Langworthy (R-NY), Brad Sherman (D-CA), and Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.), Speak on Key Issues Facing Family Businesses


Communications Strategist Dr. Frank Luntz Holds Roundtable Discussion on How to Effectively Communicate Messages to Congressional Leaders


The Congressional Family Business Caucus met for the third time with multi-generational family businesses leaders on Capitol Hill with the goal of understanding the critical challenges facing America’s largest private employer, Family Businesses.

The bi-partisan Congressional Family Business Caucus met in the U.S. Capitol Building with a focus on getting critical family business message points raised among legislators. The meeting featured caucus co-chair Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), as well as new caucus members Reps. Nick Langworthy (R-NY), Brad Sherman (D-CA), and Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.). The Caucus leaders met with executives of many large family-owned businesses and family centers.

The overall purpose of the caucus is to educate legislative leadership on America’s largest private employer, family business, and the importance of keeping that sector healthy.

The meeting was started with comments by co-chair Rep. Schneider, a member of the tax-writing Ways and Means panel, who emphasized for stakeholders the importance of engaging in talks with lawmakers. The group then heard from Reps. Langworthy and Sherman, who engaged in a bipartisan conversation on impact of taxes and regulations, and access to capital.

Rep. Glenn Thompson, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, detailed challenges his father’s family hunting and fishing equipment business faced and how family businesses are the “backbone of the U.S. economy.”

The group also heard from Mimi Bair, legislative director for caucus co-chair Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-TX), who serves on the House Budget Committee. She noted Arrington was the lead sponsor on legislation to reduce the rate of estate, gift, and generation skipping tax to 20 percent.

The two other co-chairs of the caucus are Henry Cuellar (D-TX) and Rep. Claudia Tenney’s (R-NY).

Luntz and Messaging

The meeting was hosted by Family Enterprise USA’s president, Pat Soldano, and the group was led through discussion points on messaging by well-known communications strategist and pollster, Dr. Frank Luntz.

Luntz urged the family-owned companies in attendance to focus on key messages when speaking with lawmakers. He also coached attendees on communication techniques meant to better deliver personal, fact-based issues to Congress.

“Legislators need to know the personal stories of family business,” Luntz said. “They need to know the consequences of being punished for being a family business,” he said. “Family business leaders need to be able to communicate their challenges in fifteen seconds. That’s all you have here.”

During the Sept. 20 event, the federal lawmakers and caucus attendees heard from a variety of multi-generational family business executives and family business experts tell their stories, and advocate on their behalf regarding issues on the economy, taxes, and litigation.

Sponsors of the event included trucking companies CRST International Holdings and A.Duie Pyle, as well as Hydraflow, Nielsen-Massey, and The High Center.

“Understanding the challenges, the generational challenges that confront the family enterprise is crucial,” Rep. Schneider told attendees. “This is how we learn what we need to know to make the decisions we make,” he added.

America’s family-owned trucking companies were represented John Smith, chairman, CRST International, who warned the caucus that the nation’s current economic landscape raises the potential for sector wide layoffs.

“Short-term worry: huge trucking recession,” Smith said at the Capitol Hill forum. “It’s hurting. We put off capital purchases.”

At the meeting, Peter Latta, chairman and CEO, of Pennsylvania-based trucking company A. Duie Pyle, also emphasized a need for reforming aspects of the civil justice system around the country. For the trucking businesses, tort reform is at the top the list of critical issues.

“We both have a target — a bull’s-eye — on our back,” Latta said of he and Smith. “But we didn’t wear it today. Every other day of the year it’s on. We need to get some meaningful tort reform in this country by eliminating contingency fees; losers pay winners for the costs.”

Family Enterprise USA and American Trucking Associations recently formed a strategic partnership to advocate on behalf of family-owned businesses.

Other family business executives at the event were Mike Mitchell, Executive Director, The High Center for Family Business at Elizabethtown (Penn.) College; one of the largest family business centers in the US, and Cindy Ayloush, CEO and Chairman of Hydraflow, Fullerton, Calif.

Hydraflow is a manufacturer of designed aerospace fluid transfer components

used in the galleys, lavatories, oxygen systems, and fuel lines of both

commercial and military aircraft.

Attendees also included Matt Nielsen, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, Nielsen-Massey Vanillas, and Managing Director Nielsen Real Estate BV and Nielsen-Massey Vanillas Int’l. LLC  based in Waukegan, Ill., and Alysha Calderon, President and COO, ISYS Solutions, Inc.,

and Career Smart, both multi-generational family-owned businesses.

“Our goals are to educate our legislators on the size and power of all family-owned business, including many family-owned trucking companies,” said Pat Soldano, President, Family Enterprise USA and Policy and Taxation Group. “We need to let them know of damaging tax and economic policies affecting their businesses. How we communicate those messages effectively is a challenge and will be a focus for next year,” she said.

Family businesses are the largest private employers in the country, accounting for 83.3 million jobs, or 59 percent of the country’s private workforce, research shows.

“Family business is big business,” she said. “This caucus is helping get the word out about the importance of family businesses to job growth and the health of our country.”

The first caucus meeting, held in February, focused on introducing the new caucus and educating Congress on the importance of family businesses to the U.S. economy, which contributes $7.7 trillion annually to the U.S. gross domestic product, according to research.

Other caucus attendees included many family business owners and family business center and office executives.

The next Congressional Family Business Caucus meeting is scheduled for early the first quarter of 2024.

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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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