Small Business Owners Share Their Stories at U.S. House Committee Hearings

Date: April 05, 2023

Three NFIB members explain how they are dealing with the current economic challenges

Amplifying the voices of small business owners is part of NFIB’s mission, and one of the best ways to do that is for small business owners to share their personal stories with legislators. The perspective and real-world examples small business owners provide can have a major impact on lawmakers.

Recently, three NFIB members testified in different U.S. House committee hearings about the current economic outlook on small business and how proposals would impact their businesses. Chuck Mills, owner and president of Mills Machine Company, Inc. testified on “The State of the American Economy: The Heartland,” Jerry Akers, franchise business owner of Great Clips and The Joint Chiropractic testified on “Unleashing America’s Opportunities for Hiring and Employment,” and Lucas Gjovig testified on “Highlighting the Role of Small Businesses in Domestic Energy Production.”

Mills Machine Company, Inc., located in Shawnee, Oklahoma, has been a family-owned business for more than 100 years, manufacturing drilling tools, bits, and related accessories. Chuck stated in his testimony that he faced workforce issues even before the pandemic but the government incentives to keep Americans home during COVID-19 made the issue far worse and helped fuel supply chain shortages. Inflation has also led to constant price changes on products.

“Due to these price increases, we are forced to re-price our materials every 90 days, which is much more frequently than in the past,” Chuck explained. “We should probably do it more often, but it is such a large task we have settled out at 90 days. We offer thousands of products, so this is a significant undertaking. I am, however, committed to providing any relief I receive from suppliers to my customers. Should I ever be able to negotiate a lower price for materials, I pass those savings along to my customers to promote goodwill.”

Chuck has been resourceful in finding solutions to business problems in the past and has previously served on local councils and as mayor of his town for four years. But the current economic challenges have limited his ability to grow his business and keep prices down for his customers.

Jerry owns and operates 34 Great Clips as well as five The Joint Chiropractic locations in Iowa and Nebraska. The forced shutdowns during COVID-19 were difficult on his franchises. He testified in front of the U.S. House Education and the Workforce Committee which examined how current economic conditions created by the White House’s policies are negatively impacting employment for workers and job creators.

“COVID-19 was devastating to our small businesses,” Jerry testified. “We had to shut down five salons. Now, we can’t hire workers. We have 70 positions open, but we can’t find anyone to fill them.”

Jerry went on to share the impact his business has on its employees and local communities as well as how salons and other small businesses are recovering from the pandemic. While he is hopeful for the future, he knows there are still many obstacles ahead.

“The biggest threats facing franchise small businesses like mine during the economic recovery are legislative and regulatory action,” Jerry explained. “While we are on a path to recovery from the devastating effects of the pandemic, we still have a long way to go.”

Lucas is President of Go Wireline, a domestic energy production business that has around 200 employees working out of two locations in western North Dakota and one in Colorado. Lucas discussed the importance of the energy sector with the increased global demand for energy.

“Energy production is not as simple as turning on the spigot. Increasing energy production requires more equipment and people, which in turn requires access to capital and financing,” Lucas explained. “Over the past several years investors have become increasingly reluctant to invest in our industry. Regulatory uncertainty along with a stream of negative rhetoric from the highest levels of government is discouraging the investment needed to keep up with demand. Greater manpower is also needed to meet increasing levels of demand.”

Lucas also explained hiring and recruitment difficulties even while his company spent more time, money, and effort to recruit new employees in 2022. Supply chain issues have also created challenges for his small business with restricted supply and increased cost limiting the capital to invest in the growth of his small business.

Adding more regulations to small businesses like these while they are dealing with these economic challenges will have detrimental effects. If you’re an independent business owner interested in speaking out on the issues that matter most to you and making your voice heard like Chuck, Jerry, and Lucas, please be sure to create or update your NFIB member profile. You can do this by emailing [email protected], or by logging into our website or the Engage Mobile App.

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