(L-R): Craig Burkert, CFO, ROMCO Inc.; Charlie Clarkson, president, ROMCO Inc.; Rep. Bill Shuster, chairman of Transportation and Infrastructure committee; Robert Mullins, CEO, ROMCO Inc.; and David Fitch, division president, ROMCO Equipment Co.
Recognizing the federal government’s important role investing and rebuilding the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, ROMCO Equipment Co. and Associated Equipment Distributors recently teamed up to show the U.S. House of Representative’s top transportation policymaker exactly how the uncertainty surrounding the federal highway program impacts construction equipment distributors.
On March 9, Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives’s Transportation & Infrastructure Committee met with ROMCO’s executive management team and toured its Fort Worth facility while en route to participate in an Infrastructure Roundtable at Rice University.
ROMCO was thrilled by the opportunity to host Chairman Shuster and introduce him to the company. “We wanted Chairman Shuster to get a first-hand look at a business and its employees whose livelihoods are directly impacted by the issues his committee helps promote on Capitol Hill. We tried to communicate the interests of contractors and travelers as well as those of equipment dealers and manufacturers,” said Robert Mullins, CEO of ROMCO.
Meeting briefly with Mullins, Charlie Clarkson, Craig Burkert, and David Fitch, Rep. Shuster discussed a range of legislative issues. However, the primary focus was on infrastructure investment, including the need for long-term funding to give certainty to equipment distributors and contractors. Road construction involves expensive capital equipment and contractors won’t make that kind of investment without some certainty there will be work in the future, said Shuster. While everyone agrees on the need, the discussion quickly turned to exactly how to design a federal highway program that invests in our crumbling transportation network.
Specifically, ROMCO executives and Shuster discussed the need for new revenue streams for the Highway Trust Fund. The most logical solution (raising the federal fuel tax) is politically difficult, so lawmakers are pursuing alternative funding mechanisms, such as using a tax on repatriated corporate earnings to invest in roads and bridges. However, no solution is easy and Shuster has the unenviable task of trying to find an answer that the House and Senate, and democrats and republicans can support.
Beyond transportation, the group discussed other issues that affect Texas businesses: the need for tax reform, the growth of government regulations, and overreach by agencies looking to raise revenue on the backs of small to medium sized companies, like OSHA and MSHA.
As a former auto dealer, Shuster understands the issues that distribution businesses like ROMCO face daily. “I was very impressed with the Congressman’s frankness and with his understanding of the issues that businesses encounter. I hope our discussion leads to some ideas that can be implemented and make a difference for our industry and our nation,” said Charlie Clarkson, president of ROMCO.
Overall, Shuster left with a clear understanding of what drives construction equipment distribution markets, and ROMCO’s team came away confident that he is a lawmaker looking for real solutions to the nation’s infrastructure crisis in Washington, D.C.