The plastics industry has two executives on President Bush's new Manufacturing Council.
Fred Keller, chairman and chief executive officer of Cascade Engineering Inc., and Scott Thiss, chairman and CEO of S&W Plastics LLC, were named to the panel June 15. The council's purpose is to propose ways to support the troubled manufacturing sector.
Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans and Rep. Vern Ehlers, R-Mich., announced the members in a ceremony at Cascade in Grand Rapids, Mich.
The first step for the new council is to examine the Department of Commerce's 88-page report, ``Manufacturing in America: A Comprehensive Strategy to Address the Challenges to U.S. Manufacturers,'' and shape their priorities.
``It's a fairly broad list of issues to deal with, to address the report,'' Keller said by telephone.
The list of problems facing the manufacturing sector may be large, but Keller remains patient and optimistic.
``Everybody would like to have a silver bullet appear somewhere, but there is no short-term fix. We have to be long-term with our thinking about how to fix these problems,'' he said. ``We want to be a thoughtful, long-term group that will hopefully bring about some long-term change to keep America growing in the manufacturing sector.''
The 11-member council was created in response to criticism directed at the Bush administration's job-creation policy. Nearly 2.7 million manufacturing jobs have been lost during Bush's presidency - something the panel of manufacturing executives will attempt to remedy.
Keller founded Cascade in 1973. Cascade injection molds parts for the automotive and office furniture markets and blow molds trash containers. It employs 1,200.
Cascade has won national recognition for its employee and community service programs, which stem from Keller's desire to help welfare recipients land jobs. The firm's welfare-to-work employees have an 85 percent retention rate.
The firm's ability to achieve $200 million in sales while maintaining a positive presence in the community earned Cascade Plastics News' Processor of the Year Award in 2001.
Thiss became CEO of Eden Prairie, Minn.-based S&W Plastics in 1987. S&W is a custom injection molder that serves the medical, electronics, automotive and industrial markets.
As chair of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, Thiss has used business outreach programs to emphasize his concern about job creation.
The council members were selected with diversity in mind, according to a Commerce Department statement. The panel represents different regions and executives from industries with medium to large operations. Their expertise will be used to give the administration and Congress a perspective on the manufacturing industry, Ehlers said.
``This knowledge will help us make much more informed policy decisions,'' he said.