Wayne Spidahl is the plant manager for Nordic Fiberglass in Warren, Minn., where he has worked for 32 years. He develops new materials and manufacturing products for Nordic’s line of composite electrical equipment. He recently met with his representative, Senator Kent Conrad (D-Minn.), along with other members of Congress to discuss the impact of the recent RoC styrene classification.
How is policy affecting your business?
Federal policies are impacting the way that composite manufacturers are doing business. It is unfortunate that our government is passing misunderstood regulations, such is the HHS styrene listing, and that these regulations are hurting our business and therefore our country. We need good regulation because it gives a level of certainty for getting projects going. When these types of laws are passed, we have to stop our research and development in order to comply or fight against regulations.
What do you see driving the industry now?
Besides regulation, the housing market needs to get going again. But I think it’s going to be a while for that market to start building again. We also need to start making new application for composites and improving on existing applications.
How do government policies impact the composite market?
The trend across the country is that business is at a slow down. Everybody I’ve spoken to seems to be hurting. Overall, the demand in the composites market is not there and I think it’s a result of the poor economy. If you take one step back from the economy, you’ll find it’s the gridlock in Congress. This blockage is preventing forward progress and preventing the U.S. from doing things such as developing an energy policy. There is a level of uncertainty in all markets; we don’t know what to invest in anymore. A significant part of that uncertainty stems from the fact that we don’t know what regulations are going to stay in place next year. That completes what I call the “circle of uncertainty.” That’s why we have $2 trillion dollars just sitting around the country because nobody knows where to invest it all.
How did you get involved with the government affairs committee at ACMA?
I’ve always followed events in Congress and around the country. But I recently became more involved over the styrene issue. After hearing about ways to fight against the legislation, I started writing to my Congressmen and House Representatives. We, as U.S. citizens are not as involved with our government representatives as we should be and that is a huge problem. Nobody was getting involved and now Congress is being mismanaged by issues that are unrelated to their constituents. I know there are always things going on in life, but we must take the time to meet and express ourselves to representatives or go unheard.