Sun City Shines Bright

SEMA News—September 2014

FROM THE HILL
By Christian Robinson

Sun City Shines Bright

MSD Performance Hosts U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke

 

Russell Stephens (left), president of MSD Performance, demonstrated one of his company’s products to Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) during the congressman’s visit to the company in El Paso, Texas.
Russell Stephens (left), president of MSD Performance, demonstrated one of his company’s products to Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) during the congressman’s visit to the company in El Paso, Texas.

For more than four decades, the MSD Performance brand has been synonymous with high-performance ignition parts. The company designs, develops, tests and manufactures its entire line of ignition boxes, distributors, EFI systems, coils, sparkplug wires, crank triggers and other performance parts. While known for producing engine timing accessories for auto enthusiasts and the racing circuit, MSD also has a strong commitment to its hometown of El Paso, Texas. Since 1970, MSD’s presence in the community has grown to five buildings covering 150,000 sq. ft. and more than 500 employees.

U.S. Congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) is one of El Paso’s native sons. His family has called the Sun City home for four generations. Rep. O’Rourke was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012 to represent Texas’s 16th Congressional District, which stretches from El Paso to the Permian basin. In Congress, he serves on the House Homeland Security and Veterans’ Affairs Committees. Having the chance to tour MSD’s facility was a top priority for the freshman lawmaker.

MSD Performance’s El Paso, Texas, headquarters spans five buildings that cover 150,000 sq. ft. manned by more than 500 employees.
MSD Performance’s El Paso, Texas, headquarters spans five buildings that cover 150,000 sq. ft. manned by more than 500 employees.

 
 

Manny Grijalva (left), MSD’s vice president of sales and marketing; Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX); and Russell Stephens (right), MSD Performance’s president, toured the company’s facilities.
Manny Grijalva (left), MSD’s vice president of sales and marketing; Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX); and Russell Stephens (right), MSD Performance’s president, toured the company’s facilities.

 
 

Manny Grijalva (left), MSD’s vice president of sales and marketing; Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX); and Russell Stephens (right), MSD Performance’s president, toured the company’s facilities.
SEMA Chairman-Elect Doug Evans (left)conversed with Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) at the 2014 SEMA Washington Rally.

 

“I was inspired by the visit to MSD Performance in east El Paso,” said. Rep. O’Rourke. “Amazing company, more than 300 jobs, including R&D, engineering and manufacturing. There’s a lot to learn about how this company is able to make 100% of its products in the United States, give talented El Paso engineers a reason to stay here and headquarter the dominant company in its field right here in El Paso.”

Rep. O’Rourke attended El Paso High School before earning a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Columbia University. After college, he returned home and founded an IT consulting and web-design business that catered to small- and medium-size businesses. However, it wasn’t long before the call to serve his community took hold. In 2005, O’Rourke won a seat on the El Paso City Council, where he was one of the youngest ever to serve.

During the tour, Rep. O’Rourke was able to see firsthand how MSD impacts the local economy. All stages of product development, manufacturing and distribution take place at the facility. He was particularly pleased to see that more than 80% of the research-and-development (R&D) staff was native to El Paso.

“Things in Washington are constantly changing, so we were excited to host Rep. O’Rourke,” said MSD Performance President Russell Stephens. “As we continue to expand our local footprint and hire more highly skilled workers, having an open dialogue with our congressional representative is vital.”

At the tour’s conclusion, Rep. O’Rourke had the opportunity to sit down with MSD leadership for a roundtable discussion of local issues. He discussed the importance of manufacturers continuing to create jobs in the United States. He also answered questions from employees regarding access to affordable health care and the increasing cost of doing business.

Another topic of conversation was the need to renew the R&D Tax Credit, which expired in 2013. Congress is considering a bill to renew the measure, which would continue to encourage American companies to invest in new products and methods for manufacturing those products.

For more information on planning your own Congressional District Site Visit, contact Stuart Gosswein in the SEMA government affairs office at stuartg@sema.org.

SEMA PAC President’s Club Spotlight: Doug Evans

Doug Evans is the executive vice president of aftermarket media for The Enthusiast Network, which is headquartered in Los Angeles, California.

For the past seven years, Evans has served as the chairman of SEMA PAC and has been a member of the SEMA President’s Club for more than a decade. In addition to his leadership of the PAC, he currently serves as the SEMA Board of Directors chairman-elect.

“There is no greater friend or worse enemy than SEMA PAC,” Evans said. “We must stand together and make a difference for the future of our own businesses and those that will follow us. Together, we can overcome adversity and achieve greatness for ourselves and generations yet to come.”

For more information on SEMA PAC, contact SEMA PAC Manager Christian Robinson at 202-783-6007 x20 or
christianr@sema.org.

 

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