Bringing The Small Business Message To Washington

May 23, 2011

This has been National Small Business Week. The President proclaims this week to honor and recognize the contribution of small businesses to the economy. Tonight the Small Business Person of the Year will be chosen in a special ceremony in Washington DC. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

99 percent of all employer firms in the US are small businesses. Small businesses have accounted for as much as 80 percent of new job creation in the last decade.  It’s in order to bring home the importance of this economic impact that the Small Business Administration hosts National Small Business Week. In Connecticut, Greg Bachmann, president of Dymax Corporation, in Torrington has been named state small business person of the year.

“Well, it’s a great honor, and I really appreciate it.”

Dymax makes industrial adhesives and coatings – mostly for consumer electronics and medical devices. The cell phone in your pocket likely contains some of their products. The company was started by Greg’s father in 1980.

“He was a chemist and he developed some technologies he thought could go somewhere. My parents both worked really hard in the business side by side and grew it. I joined the business permanently in 1993.”

He became CEO in 2005. Although the bulk of its 250 employees are in Connecticut, the company now has three locations in China and one in Germany.

“Some of our early successes are in consumer electronics and those were the ones that moved overseas the most. And manufacturing tends to be international anyway, and does move around with acquisitions, so over the years we’ve followed our customers internationally. If we’re not there supporting those customers every day, we will likely not keep those customers.”

Bachmann was named to the Obama administration’s manufacturing council last year – one of 24 business people from around the nation who advise on competitiveness issues.

“They really were interested in reaching out to see well, how can we improve the situation for manufacturing in the United States. And manufacturing in the United States has, I guess I’ll say has stood still while the rest of the world has grown.”

Bachmann says most of the council’s recommendations center around tax policy and regulation. He says there’s a key tax change that would make a big difference for increasingly international manufacturers. He’s already taxed in the host country on the money he makes overseas. Then if he brings those profits back home, he’s taxed again. He says if that rule changed, it could make a material difference in the US economy.

“We can bring it back here, we can invest it here, we can create jobs, we can implement capital equipment improvements, build factories, rather than having to keep the profits overseas and borrow money here, or actually build our infrastructure overseas.”

But having had a taste of Washington, he’s realistic about his chances of success.

“I look at how complex and multi-faceted and I guess, political things are in Washington DC, and I’m hopeful – we’ve given a recommendation, we’ve given some insight – but I cross my fingers and hope something will happen.”

This year’s events for National Small Business Week have honored companies like Dymax from around the country. Small business owners will be hoping that the celebration can spur real changes in policy to help them thrive.

For WNPR, I'm Harriet Jones.