Congressman John Larson’s Visit

Today, U.S. Congressman John Larson visited Horst Engineering as part of his weeklong push to discuss the health of the manufacturing sector in Connecticut. Manufacturing jobs deliver more value than service sector jobs and they have been the engine of growth for Connecticut’s economy for a long time, and this is despite years of neglect. Manufacturing has suffered as more and more firms locate elsewhere in the U.S. and offshore, or outsource their work entirely.

Horst Engineering operates a maquiladora in Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico, but we maintain our largest investments in Connecticut and we are heavily impacted by the high cost of doing business in our home state. At the request of Representative Larson’s staff, we hosted him for a private meeting and tour. We simply shared the realities of small business and the challenge of competing in this economy.

All of the usual topics were discussed: high labor costs, high health care costs, high energy costs, developing manufacturing skills, the challenges of doing business with large multi-national companies, and so on. We discussed the specific challenges that small companies face with health insurance premiums. In Connecticut, this is a huge problem because there are very few competitors and mandates drive the cost of insurance up even more. I even shared information about an interesting book that I have been reading: The Company That Solved Health Care: How Serigraph Dramatically Reduced Skyrocketing Costs While Providing Better Care, and How Every Company Can Do the Same. Unfortunately, Horst Engineering lacks the scale to do many of the things that Serigraph was successful at. Still, we are trying.

I don’t live in Larson’s district, but many of our employees do. He is also an East Hartford native and resident. Our family business has been located in East Hartford since 1950. We moved from Hartford, where we were founded in 1946. I’ve seen Larson at local events many times, but this was the first time we had the opportunity to show him our operations and highlight the high precision components that we machine for customers all over the world.

He was particularly impressed with some of our “old school” machines, the Waterbury Farrel and Hartford thread rollers. They are also among my favorites and demonstrate the rich heritage of our organization. I’m more skeptical of politicians than ever, but I never refuse the opportunity to give them a glimpse into the world of small business. It is far better for the small business community to educate them than to ignore them.

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