PITTSBURGH—How will the results of the 2016 election affect rubber product manufacturers and their suppliers?
Interviewed at the International Elastomer Conference in Pittsburgh Oct. 11-13, attendees and exhibitors expressed a wide range of opinions on which outcome would be better for their businesses, and for the world.
“The election could have some impact, depending on outcome,” said Tim Crites, area sales manager for Pittsburgh-based LWB Machinery N.A. L.P.
“One candidate wants to shut down international trade, and we do a lot of business in Mexico,” Crites said at the ACS Rubber Division event. “If our relations with Mexico go south, that could affect our business.”
Doug Smith, sales engineer for Piqua, Ohio-based French Oil Mill Machinery Co., said he expected some minor effects from the election.
“From the military end of things, one party would allow the budget to increase over the others,” Smith said. “Certainly I would add that one party would create a more even playing field when competing with foreign manufacturers.”
Leon A. Perez, vice president of technology and business development for McDonald, Pa.-based specialty chemical manufacturer Reaxis, said it was easy for him to make his election decisions.
“We have only 50 people at Reaxis,” Perez said. “I don't think the current administration is friendly to small business, and I don't think another Democratic administration would be interested in helping us.”
Reaxis could double its size with the current demand for its products, and Perez said he would love to do that. But the health insurance rules under the Affordable Care Act make that impossible, he said.
“I haven't seen enough to know if the Republicans would be better, but I'm willing to take the risk,” he said.
It is obvious that Donald Trump would weaken the Environmental Protection Agency, whereas Hillary Clinton would strengthen it, said Ronald Clark, president and CEO of Wapakoneta, Ohio-based Midwest Elastomers Inc.
Nevertheless, the election shouldn't have much of an impact on MEI, according to Clark.
“I think everybody with a sound business model will figure out what they need to do,” he said. “The government inspectors we see are pretty level-headed. They get it.”
Representatives of non-U.S. companies said that many people in their countries are afraid of Trump. Such is the case in Germany, said Ralf Bauerlein, president of MonTech Germany who was at the MonTech U.S.A. L.L.C. booth at Rubber Expo.
MonTech U.S.A. is the Columbia City, Ind.-based distributor of high-precision rubber testing instruments made both in Germany and the U.S.
“In Germany, a lot of companies depend on exporting to the U.S.,” Bauerlein said.
Trump seems ready to push U.S. manufacturing and discourage imports, but MonTech is not concerned about this because it has a U.S. manufacturing plant, he said.
“If Clinton wins, we don't expect a lot of change,” Bauerlein said.
Silvia Uzcategui, international marketing and sales supervisor for Venezuelan silica and silicate supplier Glassven C.A., said most Venezuelans are hoping Clinton will win.
“We think Trump is like our president,” Uzcategui said. Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela's current president, is unpopular because of hyperinflation, widespread food shortages and repressive political policies.
“Every election creates some uncertainty for business,” said David Blanco, sales manager-UHD & Rineer for Grove City, Ohio-based equipment distributor Bosch Rexroth Corp.
Nevertheless, Blanco said he hasn't noticed any effects on his own business.
Bosch Rexroth is the U.S. distributor of Swedish-made Hagglunds hydraulic drive systems. “I have a footprint in oil and gas, and they're optimistic,” he said. “September and October were our best months ever.
“Overall, there's never a greater time of uncertainty than an election,” Blanco said. “But it doesn't feel that way to me now.”