SEMA News - November 2010

Rep. Grace Napolitano and Rep. Joe Donnelly Meet With SEMA Members in Their Home Districts

By Dan Sadowski

  SEMA News-November 2010-Goverment Affairs 
From left: SEMA Vice President of Councils and Membership Nathan Ridnouer; Egge Machine Co. Owner Bob Egge; Rep. Grace Napolitano; Egge Machine Co. CEO Ernie Silvers; SEMA President and CEO Chris Kersting; and SEMA Congressional Affairs Manager Dan Sadowski.
Members of Congress leave Washington in August to spend time in their home districts. This “district work period” provides a chance for elected officials to meet with their constituents and discuss issues of local importance. Two SEMA-member companies took advantage of their representatives’ proximity this summer. Through its Congressional District Site Visit Program, SEMA arranged for two U.S. representatives to meet with SEMA members, tour their facilities and see firsthand the positive economic impact our industry has on local communities. 

SEMA-member Egge Machine Co. and Speed Shop in Santa Fe Springs, California, hosted Congresswoman Grace Napolitano (D-CA) for a factory tour and informational briefing with the company’s employees. CEO Ernie Silvers and Owner Bob Egge provided the congresswoman with an overview of the products made by the company and the markets in which they sell. Founded in 1915, Egge Machine is a piston manufacturer that specializes in domestic vehicle applications from the early 1900s–1980.

Rep. Napolitano was elected in 1998 and is serving her sixth term in Congress. Prior to her election to the House, Napolitano was a member of the Norwalk City Council and a member of the California State Assembly. Rep. Napolitano is a strong advocate for America’s industrial base. She started a manufacturing task force in her home district, which is comprised of various small- and mid-size companies. The task force examines key issues and pursues strategies to foster more jobs and create a positive climate for manufacturing retention and growth.

  SEMA News-November 2010-Goverment Affairs 
Ernie Silvers provides Rep. Grace Napolitano with an in-depth tour of Egge’s machine shop and foundry.  
Rep. Napolitano met with employees during the tour and observed the casting of custom aluminum pistons and the daily operation of the machine shop. “Manufacturers and small businesses like Egge are the backbone of our economy, both locally and nationwide,” Napolitano said after the event. “Visiting local businesses and meeting their employees underscore their importance.”

Attendees to the event included SEMA President and CEO Chris Kersting; Vice President of Membership and Councils Nathan Ridnouer; and Congressional Affairs Manager Dan Sadowski. They joined with Egge employees in a lively discussion of current issues before Congress. Topics included pending legislation to provide small businesses with access to low-interest loans, extend bonus depreciation to allow companies to immediately write-off 50% of the cost of new equipment and renew the research and development tax credit.

“We appreciate the time Rep. Napolitano spent with our employees,” Silvers said. “The Congressional District Site Visit program provides an invaluable opportunity for elected officials to learn how important SEMA companies are in their communities.”

SEMA staff also traveled to Elkhart, Indiana, to help coordinate a visit with Congressman Joe Donnelly (D-IN) at the Midwest headquarters of Truck Accessories Group (TAG), parent company of Leer and other brands. Rep. Donnelly is a new member of the Congressional Automotive Performance and Motorsports Caucus, having joined during the 2010 SEMA Washington Rally.

  SEMA News-November 2010-Goverment Affairs
From left: SEMA Senior Director of Federal Government Affairs Stuart Gosswein; Jim Wrobleski and Co. Vice President of Operations Dave Wrobleski; Truck Accessories Group (TAG) Chief Financial Officer Dave Beckman; Rep. Joe Donnelly; TAG President and Chief Operating Officer Joe Donohue; TAG Vice President Sales and Marketing Dennis DeLeonard; TAG Midwest General Manager Mohammad Motamedi; and SEMA Congressional Affairs Manager Dan Sadowski outside TAG Midwest’s Elkhart, Indiana, headquarters.
Rep. Donnelly was elected in 2006 and is serving his second term in Congress. Prior to his election to the House, Rep. Donnelly was an attorney and also the owner of Marking Solutions, a small-business printing and rubber stamp company. He served on the Indiana State Election Board from 1997–2001 and currently serves on the House Financial Services Committee and the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

TAG produces truck caps, tonneau covers, retractable truck bed covers and aluminum and plastic automotive components. TAG offers automotive solutions that range from design and engineering to mold-making, fabrication, assembly, painting and shipping. The company’s products are marketed by hundreds of independent distributors throughout the United States, Canada and beyond.

Rep. Donnelly’s visit began with a roundtable discussion with TAG senior executives, including President and COO Joe Donohue, Chief Financial Officer Mike Beckman, Vice President of Sales and Marketing Dennis DeLeonard and TAG Midwest’s General Manager Mohammad Motamedi. Rep. Donnelly was already quite familiar with TAG’s product line and the market for automotive accessories since his district includes many recreational and utility vehicle manufacturers as well.

“Manufacturing drives the economy in north-central Indiana,” said Rep. Donnelly. “I’m proud to represent tens of thousands of employees of the automotive manufacturing industry, and I believe it is important that companies such as TAG are provided with every opportunity to expand and develop new products.”

  SEMA News-November 2010-Goverment Affairs 
Rep. Joe Donnelly at TAG’s Elkhart facility, taking a hands-on approach to learning more about the impact of SEMA member companies on the local economy.
After the discussion, Donohue led the congressman on a tour of TAG’s new fiberglass fabrication facility. On the tour, Rep. Donnelly observed the production, painting and finishing of truck caps and bedliners. At several points, Donnelly stopped to visit with employees and ask questions. The tour provided a unique behind-the-scenes look at the final stage of TAG’s production line.

“We are pleased to have had the opportunity to provide Rep. Donnelly with a glimpse of the development of our products,” Donohue said. “Given the current economic climate and the changing needs of SEMA-member companies, it is important for our elected officials to understand the positive impact of our industry and the potential
for expansion.”

The Congressional District Site Visit Program is overseen by SEMA’s government affairs office in Washington, D.C. The program allows SEMA members to raise the visibility of the industry on Capitol Hill by connecting lawmakers with their constituents in their home districts. If you are interested in hosting an event at your facility with your federal elected officials, please contact Congressional Affairs Manager Dan Sadowski via e-mail at or by calling 202/783-6007 x19.  

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