A typical work schedule sees U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg of Michigan attending meetings, hearings and floor action on the House of Representatives at least two out of every three weeks.
So when he's away from Washington, the Republican said it is important for him to take advantage of visits like the one he had at R&B Plastics Machinery LLC in Saline on July 18, to get a ground-level perspective on manufacturing and how political decisions affect R&B and other companies.
“When I sit in a work committee talking about [health and safety] standards or tariffs, I can think about places like this, and things like what's going on behind that curtain over there,” Walberg said, pointing to an area of the shop floor where proprietary future projects were hidden away from the general public.
Al Hodge, president of R&B, a maker of single-screw extruders and blow molding equipment, said hosting the congressman's visit and a question-and-answer session with other nearby manufacturers provides key net- working opportunities.
“Any time you can get an elected official into a factory and see what really happens, it's important,” he said.
Those contacts help manufacturers raise their voice on pending legislation and bring up topics important to them, he said. Walberg's brief visit included discussions about vocational training for the future workforce, oil prices and seeking ways to encourage consumers to support American-made goods.
Hodge noted that R&B has 47 employees in Saline and roughly another 20 in Monroe, Mich., and the company plans to expand.
With eight apprentices in training in Monroe, he noted that the firm has a focus on training new workers as well as an interest in the current business environment.