U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, didn’t exactly quote former President Calvin Coolidge on Thursday but he did several times indicate that the business of Johnson County is business. And business throughout Johnson County, Texas, and America, to quote a Beatles’ song, is getting better all the time.
Williams visited three local businesses Thursday, including SACHEM Inc. and P&P Plumbing, both in Cleburne, as well as F-Wave in Burleson.
“We’re going around the district to talk about tax reform,” Williams said. “To see how tax reform is affecting employees and businesses. What we’ve found is that it’s working and people are thankful. They realize they’re getting money that the government is normally taking from them. In spite of what [U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-California] just said. People today, that extra $1,000 or whatever they’re getting back they would not consider crumbs. They’re thankful for it. Those who think it’s crumbs, they can write an extra $1,000 check to the federal government and let them have it.
“So we’re going through the district taking tax reform, moving Main Street forward and the fact that we’re seeing low unemployment and growth.
Williams visited with SACHEM employees over barbecue before touring the facility with CEO John Mooney.
The company, founded in 1950 by Mooney’s father, began with 12 employees, Mooney said, but now employs more than 100 in Cleburne and 400 globally.
The company operates facilities in Austin, Japan, China and the Netherlands as well. SACHEM is a privately held chemical science company manufacturing semiconductors, environmental catalysts for automotive and refinery uses and other products.
SACHEM, Mooney said, has grown substantially since they opened their Cleburne location both in physical size and number of employees.
“We’ve invested about $20 million in [the Cleburne facility] over the past couple of years,” Mooney said.
Tax reforms recently passed by Congress have helped SACHEM and it’s employees, and other businesses, in several ways, Mooney said, from spurring growth to bonuses company employees recently received.
“Those bonuses were able to be paid out at lower tax rates,” Mooney said. “We’re also, because of that, more competitive now where we weren’t before compared to Europe and Asia, which leads to further investments. And, as a family business, because of the ability to not have to pay estate tax at as high a rate, we can keep this as a family business.”
Williams said that, as a business owner himself, he can relate because he faces the same challenges other business owners face.
Williams joked that he never considered entering politics when he was younger. Rather he harbored dreams of becoming a train engineer, fireman or baseball player.
Now in his fourth congressional term, however, Williams said he felt called to run.
“I ran because I didn’t think anybody in Congress was standing up for small business on either side of the aisle and I’m in Congress who actually owns a business,” Williams said. “I believe less government is best government.”
Thanks to the tax cuts and other initiatives under President Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress things are looking up, Williams said.
“I think we’re heading in the right direction,” Williams said. “For the first time in a while business in on the right track and the tax cuts have certainly helped. Better for us to have the money than the federal government.”
SACHEM, Williams said, is a prime example of what’s good about Main Street America.
“Businesses like yours employ half the payroll and half the workforce in this country,” Williams said. “The last several years we haven’t been able to be aggressive. We played defense as I call it. In large part because of lots of regulations. But we’re reducing regulations, taxes are going down, and it’s freeing it up now where we can play offense, take a little risk and hope we get rewarded. America needs to drive this economy and we’re begging to have that happen.”
Mooney asked Williams to list examples of economic expansion opportunities throughout the district other than SACHEM.
“Several,” Williams said. “And several we’ve seen today. [P&P Plumbing], a company with nine employees, has seen an increase in business so they’re looking at expanding and adding more people. F-Wave, a roofing company, they have 47 employees. They’re going to expand because now they can buy equipment and expense it at 100 percent. That 47 employees is going to turn into 300, and that’s happening right here in Johnson County. It’s these kind of things that allow businesses to buy more equipment and put more people to work whether it’s a business of nine, 100 or 1,000. Look at the stock market and look at the fact that unemployment numbers are the lowest they’ve been in 20 years.”
SACHEM Director of Quality John Mattson asked if, outside the divisive political issues occupying the national stage, there are any relatively non-partisan issues of common ground between Republicans and Democrats.
“Things that both sides agree on that’s moving the ball forward that we don’t hear about,” Mattson said.
Washington, D.C., is divided, Williams said, but common ground still exists mainly in the areas of military and infrastructure matters.
“Everybody pretty much agrees that roads need to be fixed,” Williams said. “Bridges need to be fixed. Our ports need to be dredged and all those things that keep us going. We all agree to that and it’s all pretty well bipartisan. Where the debate’s going to be is how we pay for it and we’re going to address that when we get back.
“President Trump has a good program. He’s going to put $200 billion out there as seed money and then we will attract the private sector to begin to build our roads and bridges and so forth.
“We’ve done that in Texas. I was secretary of state before I was in Congress and we did a lot of that in the private sector here. The private sector, I think most of you agree, does it a lot quicker and a lot better than the federal government.
“So there are bipartisan issues like that. But you don’t see that on the news. You see everybody swinging instead.”