Public Papers

Remarks to Steeltech Employees in Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Well, this is an exciting day. And Janet, thank you for the introduction. And of course, to the Guerrero family who greeted us here, some of them milling around with cameras, the boss up here, many, many thanks for this warm welcome to this exciting venture. And David, let me just say, from what I've seen, you have an awful lot to be proud of, not just in things, not just in what's happening but in the people that make up this organization of yours. Good morning also to Chuck Wallace. And it's good to, obviously great to be back with two dear friends of mine, Governor Tommy Thompson and Senator Bob Kasten, each in his own way doing a superb job for our country. May I also salute Mayor Norquist, modestly standing on the side, and thank him for attending today. Thank you, sir. And with him, the county executive is with us today, Mr. Schultz. Thank you, sir, for being with us. And I was looking because back out of the limelight is one of America's great heroes, a winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor, Gary Wetzel, but he's -- he was there, but anyway -- here he is right over here. Proud to have him with us today.

You know, Tommy -- to me, Governor Thompson is fond of saying there are only two seasons in Wisconsin, winter and road construction. So I guess I'm glad to say that spring is just around the corner.

And I am proud to be with you today. And I want the media here to carry your message into every living room in this Nation because we're waging a battle today in America, a battle for jobs and for our economic future. And Steeltech is the kind of success story that points the way to victory. It was a dream that its supporters refuse to call impossible, a dream of startup, minority-owned firm, but committed to excellence. And Steeltech grew out of extraordinary bipartisan public-private cooperation, combining government action with economic initiative and the strong support of the community. And that is essential.

Governor Thompson on the State level, a great believer; Mayor Norquist, I'm told, on the city level, a great believer; and then Jack Kemp, our Secretary of HUD, who helped win a HUD grant; Pat Saiki, back in Washington, who is head of the SBA, and she helped qualify this company as a small disadvantaged business concern, that gave it another kick.

And I've heard about the private sector's involvement from Fred Luber, especially about Roger Peirce and the great folks at Super Steel who have held out a hand of hospitality. So, what I've glimpsed, what I've just seen, seen the periscope of, really, is a precedent-setting teamwork that brought about what I'm told, and I believe this is true, David, is the largest manufacturing minority business enterprise in the Nation's history.

One of the most impressive things about Steeltech, and I referred to this earlier, is its vision of its workers. David Guerrero and Jan Crosby and others go to the hardest hit parts of minority communities here for their recruits. And some have been imprisoned; some are longtime unemployed. And I like what David says about these new beginnings. Here's his quote: ``Forget about the past. Look to the future.'' And after intensive training with partner schools, these men and women become part of the high-quality, self-confident, drug-free Steeltech team.

And what a great team it is. Let me mention just a couple: players like Chester Gandy, who learned to weld at 47; Larry Holliman, who was honored by Mayor Norquist for perfect attendance; and father and son workers Gilbert Buenrostro II and III, two of them starting a family tradition. And they're all part of this Steeltech team that last year produced .8 million in sales and that this year expects to top million. Remarkable, and it's not even the second anniversary of this firm yet.

And soon, you're going to move into what David described to me as a neighborhood factory, your new state-of-the-art plant with the largest automated E-coat painting line in the United States. And there you'll help contribute to the national defense of this country, working with Gene Goodson of Oshkosh, making high-quality steel components for the PLS, the new military cargo truck. And we're proud to have you working for America under a Federal Government contract. And I am proud, very proud, to be here to salute each and every one of you.

You should know, I hope you know that I'm trying very hard to fight for a better economic climate not just for people here but all across our country. And you've heard me talk about the economic growth plan that I've asked Congress to pass by March 20th. That's this coming Friday. And the plan offers new incentives to stimulate the economy in certain ways, incentives like an investment tax allowance that will help these kinds of dynamic companies to expand, speed up the depreciation rate so business can invest and get that payback sooner. It's critical to get congressional approval immediately.

Let me just mention today another battle for the health of the economy. And I don't know how badly you've been impacted by it, David, but I'm talking about the struggle against excessive regulation. American workers have shown to foreign competitors that given a level playing field, given equal rules, we can outthink, outperform, outproduce anyone, anytime, and anyplace. Well, a level playing field outside the United States is well and good, but you'll never reach it if you have to run yourselves to exhaustion here at home on a treadmill of overzealous regulation. Yes, we all have obligations for the safety, for example, of workers in the workplace. But we can't be overzealous; we can't go too far.

And so, in my recent State of the Union Message, I instituted a 90-day freeze on proposed and existing Federal regs that would hinder economic growth. And now we're speeding up rules that help growth and halting rules that would harm the economy. Overregulation here in the U.S. can give foreign corporations an advantage over us. And it can also drive businesses to move their factories overseas. And let me assure you, we are going to continue this fight until we roll back all of the overregulation.

During and after this 90-day freeze, our administration is going to do everything it can to roll this tide back and then to go forward with reform legislation. Some of it to win the battle against excessive regulations requires legislation itself. And we're going to fight against those in Congress who try to impose new and unacceptable regulatory burdens on Americans' livelihood. And if Congress sends me any legislation with excessive regulation in it, I will have to veto it and send it back. We simply cannot tie the hands of our workers, tie the hands of our businesses.

And so, I'm tremendously impressed, in summary, by just what I've seen here today, by you. And as I travel across the country now I've got a wonderful story to take with me. And I will tell other Americans about a place where people still believe in hope, where they work together for their neighbors, where they succeed. And I'll tell the story of Steeltech, and I'll end by saying these men and women prove that the American dream can still come true. I just wish each and every one of you that might not be intimately familiar with this firm could have heard the spirit of the workers that I was privileged to talk to, albeit briefly, when I first came into this plant.

So thank you, David. And thank all of you for what you're doing in this wonderful, I would say, experience; let me call it instead a success story. I will take this message out and bring it home to America: We can succeed. We will succeed. And we will get this economy moving dynamically in the future.

Thank you all very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 11:05 a.m. at Steeltech Manufacturing, Inc. In his remarks, he referred to Steeltech officers G. David Guerrero, president and chief executive officer, Charles L. Wallace, chairman of the board, and Janet E. Crosby, human resources manager; Super Steel Products Corp. officers Fred G. Luber, chairman and chief executive officer, and Roger D. Peirce, president and chief operating officer; and R. Eugene Goodson, chief executive officer of Oshkosh Truck Corp.