Washington — The plastics composites sector descended on Washington Feb. 6-7, hoping to turn President Donald Trump's plans for a $1.5 trillion infrastructure rebuilding program into some tangible gains for its companies.
"It's a watershed time," said Tom Dobbins, president and CEO of the American Composites Manufacturers Association. "The American people's attention to infrastructure has probably never been higher since Eisenhower built the Interstate [highway] system."
Arlington, Va.-based ACMA and a group of about 40 executives from member companies did what's typical at lobbying fly-ins — they met with more than 90 members of Congress and staff, along with executive branch officials.
Their timing was about as good as it gets. Their D.C. event had been in the works for months but happened to fall just after President Trump talked about infrastructure in his State of the Union address, and only a few days before the expected Feb. 12 roll out of the detailed plans.
Aside from piggybacking on the political momentum, they were trying to make sure any legislation gives composites — a much newer material compared to building industry stalwarts like concrete and steel — a seat at the table.
"We're not looking for mandates, we're looking to open up the bidding process so we have a fair shake," said Leon Garoufalis, president and chief operating officer of Composites One, a large materials distributor in Arlington Heights, Ill.