Dennis Slater is President and Secretary of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM). He oversees operation of all Association programs, which focus on core service areas of market information and equipment statistics, public policy representation, product safety and technical support, and trade shows.
Dennis has spent most of his career representing the interests of the equipment manufacturing industry, through AEM and a predecessor organization CIMA (Construction Industry Manufacturers Association).
AEM is the North American-based international trade group for the off-road equipment manufacturing industry. Its members produce equipment, products and services used worldwide in the agriculture, construction, forestry, mining and utility sectors.
The FAST Act Isn’t Fully Funded
I think it actually took most people by surprise at the end of the year last year when it did pass, because for so long we had come up to the edge of trying to get something done and had a short-term solution…However, I think at the same time it’s still concerning because it’s not fully funded, and it really isn’t a long-term plan. It’s really a funding plan that needs the back end of it still funded.
Investing in Infrastructure Creates Jobs
…First, if you do build the infrastructure, there’s a lot of jobs in doing that building. On the other side of that, with a good infrastructure you now lower the cost of moving goods which keeps the companies competitive out there, and manufacturers will be more competitive and sell more goods and off you go there on helping jobs on that front. So it does work both ways.
Stepping up Advocacy with the “I Make America” Campaign
...Equipment manufacturers build the machines that make America. They build the machines that harvest crops and feed America and feed the world. Originally this was something that we just explained to our members, and we decided it’s not good enough. You have to also ask your members, you have to explain to their employees so they get involved in this and understand that their jobs depend on policies that support their jobs…This year, especially, we’ve gone out there now to the candidates that are running to say, “what’s your manufacturing platform? What are your solutions for infrastructure?”
The Root of the Problem Is Deferred Maintenance
I think the biggest challenge we face is it’s easy to defer something for another year, and then it’s two years, then it’s five years, then it’s ten years…So often that’s the problem, when you get at the federal level and then the local level you’re not maintaining these year to year. You get into the water systems and you look at the things that have happened in Flint and the other areas—these had to have proper maintenance through the years.
AEM and Infrastructure
The machines that our construction industry makes help build the roads, the bridges, the ports. They’re involved in the building of this. And the other side of it as manufacturers—they need a good infrastructure to stay competitive in the world. So to get the product to market for the farmers, for the farm equipment, and for getting raw materials to their factories so they can build equipment and then send that off to the marketplace.