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What Do Distributors Really Think About Trump’s Election?

What Do Distributors Really Think About Trump’s Election?

By Susan Bloom

While Donald Trump’s election on November 8 came as a shock to many of the nation’s voters – and even to Trump and the Republican party – the president-elect donned a new air of professionalism and grace following his historic win and immediately got to work appointing his cabinet.  The consensus on the upcoming Trump presidency?  Distributors we’ve polled from coast to coast say they’re encouraged by the potential the new POTUS may have to help boost American business, and feel hopeful and cautiously optimistic about the coming four years.

‘A Pro-Business Choice’
“Though neither candidate came across in the most professional way during the campaign, I think that Trump was a pro-business choice,” shared Glenn Goedecke, Executive Vice President, Business Development for Mayer Electric Supply Co. in Birmingham, Alabama.  “He was a successful businessman who will hopefully surround himself with smart people and move the wheels of business forward for the first time in years.”

T. Scott Lawhead, President & CEO of The Hite Company in Altoona, Pennsylvania, agreed.  “I was pleased with Trump’s election and feel that if he surrounds himself with good people, then perhaps his campaign platform of change will be beneficial to America.”

Initially, “‘The Donald’ wasn’t my first choice,” admitted Rock Kuchenmeister, President of K/E Electric in Mt. Clemens, Michigan, “but I like the mixed cast of characters being vetted for cabinet positions. It’s still early, but tax reform appears possible before Mother’s Day and some degree of ‘law and order’ on a higher level could be great too.”

“So far, I’m encouraged by the tone and progress that’s being made by the transition team and I’m hopeful as I watch Mr. Trump’s new-found humility and statesmanlike demeanor,” concurred Sandra Rosecrans, CEO of City Electric Co. in Syracuse, New York.

“We’ll have to wait and see which reforms are implemented before we have a clearer picture of the Trump administration’s ability to influence the economy,” noted Bob Settle, Vice President of Marketing at Crescent Electric Supply in East Dubuque, Illinois.  “But if enacted, some of the President-elect’s campaign commitments – specifically, significant infrastructure spending, tax code reforms, and corporate tax repatriation accommodations — could provide a catalyst to ignite the economy and could certainly bode well for our industry and for business in general.”  Settle added that, on the other hand, trade restrictions, higher interest rates, and a stronger dollar could dampen the overall effect.

An Economic Energizer
Distributors feel that Trump’s policies may be beneficial to a number of sectors in particular.  Specifically, shared Steve Blazer, President of Blazer Electric Supply in Colorado Springs, Colorado, “I think his presidency could jumpstart the energy sector, which we’re dependent on in Colorado, and hopefully lead to a more robust economy overall if he can achieve successful retention of industry and maybe even encourage the return of lost overseas manufacturing,” he said.  “I think that the defense buildup will help us since we have such a large defense presence locally.”

Lawhead agrees. “Trump’s view on energy will certainly be beneficial to our current economy and hopefully invigorate the coal industry, a big economic contributor in our trading area,” he said, while Goedecke believes that Trump’s presidency will influence the flow of private equity dollars into the market again and help the oil and gas industries recover by 2018 via related legislation.

Many distributors also hope that the next four years will bring relief to rising health insurance costs.  “We have to have affordable medical insurance to offer our employees,” Blazer said.  “We have 95 employees and our costs are up over $100,000 in the last year, which we didn’t get back through additional gross profit.”

City Electric Co.’s Rosecrans echoed that sentiment.  “I’m interested to hear what changes will be proposed for the Affordable Care Act, as the cost of healthcare for our company has increased more than 25% during the past three years,” she said.  Rosecrans and others are also interested in the status of new Fair Labor Standards Act, which addresses minimum wage, overtime pay, and non-exempt employee pay and is up for reconsideration this December 1.  “The potential repeal of this pending legislation would be very helpful for every business that’s trying to make a profit while also keeping employees employed!” Rosecrans said.

At the same time, Trump’s proposal to lower corporate tax rates “would also be helpful, and that must include international business,” Blazer shared.  “We need the tax base back that’s gone overseas in order to avoid the excessive corporate tax rate here.”

Overall, Mayer’s Goedecke believes that Trump’s presence can help fuel the nation’s economy and drive a 3 to 4 percent growth in 2017 sales at Mayer, whose 2016 performance was flat against the prior year.  While he believes that the distribution industry is changing and consolidating, “I think Trump will leave his mark and be good for the distribution industry in general,” Goedecke concluded.

And while the distributors polled said that Trump’s election wouldn’t necessarily change any of their strategies, “if he’s able to generate activity domestically, then it could certainly ‘speed up’ some of our growth plans,” shared The Hite Company’s Lawhead.

Bloom is a 25-year veteran of the lighting and electrical products industry. Reach her at susan.bloom.chester@gmail.com.


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