As President Donald Trump fills out his cabinet and prepares to take office, the American Composites Manufacturers Association provided composites industry leaders with an in-depth take on how the rapidly changing political landscape could potentially affect their businesses.

During ACMA’s 2017 Composites Executive Forum in Washington, D.C., Lauren Bazel, Vice President of Alpine Group, Inc., and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) provided perspective on what is happening on Capitol Hill. The Alpine Group has been working with ACMA’s Government Affairs program to ensure composites remain competitive through an aggressive advocacy campaign.

Last year, ACMA helped secure a number of legislative victories for composites, and is currently working to ensure the composites industry’s story is being told as effectively as possible. Bazel emphasized the importance of bringing policymakers and regulators “to the real world to see what’s really going on” in the composites industry. One way businesses can do that is by inviting their Members of Congress to their facilities to expose them to their products and operations.

She also highlighted the importance of businesses remaining engaged by informing ACMA leadership and Members of Congress about their latest innovations, investments and research.

“Our hope is certainly that we keep composites as much in the forefront of [Members of Congress’] minds as other materials when they’re looking at infrastructure investments, when they’re looking at recycling … when they’re looking at really anything, that composites are in the same argument as steel and wood and concrete and all other materials,” said Bazel. “This is our chance to make sure that our industry is as much a part of their regular dialogue as traditional materials. And I think we have a great opportunity to do just that.”

She added that while opening up competition is difficult because traditional materials come with a “very traditional workforce and a very traditional economic picture,” that in the current political climate, there are many people willing to look at the world without being constrained by traditional, conventional wisdom.

“We have a President who very clearly thinks outside the box, is willing to think outside the box and Members of Congress who are willing to go there,” said Bazel. “They want to seize the enthusiasm for maybe doing things differently.”

One of those members is Rep. Smith, who currently serves as the chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. During his speech at the Composites Executive Forum, Rep. Smith noted his personal connection to composites through his home district, which includes Kerrville, Texas, where many composite aircraft are built. He also noted that Texas has more wind turbines than any state in America and that many of those turbines are made with composites.