Doug Seaton talks about representing small business in Minnesota, and what it’s like to fight bureaucracy, high taxes and regulation.
NFIB Member Profile: Doug Seaton of Seaton & Peters Revnew
Name: Doug Seaton
Business: Seaton & Peters Revnew
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Tell us about your practice.
We actually celebrated our twentieth anniversary last year, which is exciting. We began because we decided that a large law firm was not really to our taste and was not the best medium to provide the type of service we wanted to for our clients.
We do labor and employment law for management and help our clients stay compliant with the law, defend themselves and keep revenue streams going to the owners and their productive and contributing employees. That is our mission. We’ve been a small business like all other NFIB members, and so we share the circumstances of small business, in addition to representing them.
What it’s like doing business in Minnesota?
We have a very challenging and high tax climate, with high income taxes and business property taxes that are very challenging, as well as harsh regulatory laws. We do our best to fight that fight at the individual business level, as well as take action at the legislative level when we can.
Because we are focused on labor employment law, we grapple with many federal labor laws as well. All of those agencies are upping the anti and making things more and more difficult.
One thing we’re currently doing that is significant is opposing the governor and the state in their effort to unionize childcare providers and personal care attendants. Essentially, they are trying to impose unions on those two groups of very small business owners for the sole purpose of extracting taxpayers’ money from them.
What could Minnesota do better?
I believe the tax rates have to be brought down—business property tax needs to be brought down as well as our income tax.
We also have an unusual regulatory burden in Minnesota. We have counterparts at the Department of Labor, Pollution Control Agency and others, and they are all are amping up their regulatory regime. That’s causing a lot of difficulty for small business people.
Our businesses are treated as enemies of the state in Minnesota, and it’s unpardonable and it should stop.
What is the biggest reward of owning your own business?
Part of it is that you finally make your own way and you don’t have bureaucracy to report to, so you can make quick, more rational decisions.
We are closer to our clients and their needs because we’re a small business. It means we really do stand in their shoes in more ways than one: Not only are we a representative, but we are a small business, too. It helps us be better in terms of the service we provide and the benefits we can offer. We’ve worked with several generations of families to help their business, and that’s really rewarding.
How did you first get involved with NFIB?
I’ve always followed NFIB because so many labor employment issues end up in the political arena. I also worked for the legislature as a nonpartisan attorney for several months, where I met Mike Hickey and followed NFIB’s work in the legal arena.
I decided to support the organization because it’s doing the right thing, things I believe in. Since then, I’ve tried to come to the meetings and offer my services as a lawyer. I put on programs for members that focus on labor employment law issues they should be concerned about.
I believe NFIB is a significant bulwark for smaller business in the state and nationally.