Few things are more quintessentially Louisianan than seafood and Tabasco sauce, and on the third stop of the NAM’s Competing to Win Tour on Thursday, NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons got to spend some time with both.
The first stop: Laitram LLC, the Harahan, Louisiana–based manufacturing leader in seafood and nuts processing equipment, played host to Timmons, Louisiana Rep. Garret Graves (recently tapped by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy as Elected Leadership Committee chair) and Louisiana Association of Business and Industry President and CEO Stephen Waguespack.
- Laitram President and CEO Jay Lapeyre (who also serves as chairman of the Cato Institute Board of Directors) and his team led the group through a facility tour of Intralox, a subsidiary of Laitram specializing in conveyer belts and equipment that improve productivity, food safety and reliability in high-speed package sorting.
- Timmons, Rep. Graves and Waguespack spoke with line employees across the facility, and Timmons was impressed by the company’s successes in employee retention: “Nearly everyone I met had been there a decade or more … One team member recently marked 46 years with the company,” he noted afterward.
Talking policy: Timmons moderated a roundtable discussion on manufacturing policy opportunities and challenges with Laitram’s senior staff, Rep. Graves and Waguespack after the tour.
- Lapeyre and his team expressed concerns about pass-through tax rates, which impact Laitram given that it is an S-Corp. They also raised alarms about the recent phaseout of pro-growth tax deductions for research and development and bonus depreciation.
- Trade emerged as a top priority for Laitram and its global enterprise, and Lapeyre also shared his perspective on the need for more regulatory certainty, particularly in the light of a potential new rule from the Federal Trade Commission limiting the use of noncompete agreements.
- Meanwhile, Rep. Graves emphasized the continued importance of protecting tax reform and pointed to ongoing efforts in Congress to advance permitting reform.
The second stop: The NAM team then headed to Avery Island, around two hours outside of New Orleans, where they visited McIlhenny Company, the maker of the iconic red-and-green-bottled Tabasco pepper sauce.
- Timmons was given a full tour of the 155-year-old company’s facilities, which included stops at the manufacturer’s barrel-aging warehouse, blending facility, bottling and packing plant and its onsite restaurant.
- McIlhenny Chief Operating Officer Michael Terrell—a fourth-generation employee of the company—and Agricultural Manager Christian Brown—a sixth-generation employee—guided the tour around the facility, which showed off some of the manufacturer’s recent bottling-plant innovations. These included label readers, case packers and a packet line, as well as several sustainability initiatives.
The last word: As Timmons said at the outset of the competitiveness tour, “The story of manufacturing in America is one of resilience and defying the odds. All manufacturers ask is that in Washington, when it comes to policy, don’t stack those odds against us.”