All American Clothing Company, an apparel company located in Arcanum, Ohio, is proudly 100% USA-made ever since it opened in 2002, according to its owners.
Co-founder Lawson Nickol says he started the company with the sole purpose of creating and maintaining USA jobs and bolstering the nation’s manufacturing industry. Nickol is politically vocal about the importance of USA-made products, he testified before the Senate Democratic Steering Committee in July regarding the importance of passing the Bring Home Jobs Act, which would remove the incentive for business owners to move their companies overseas. Logan Beam, director of Marketing and Communications at All American Clothing Company, has published press releases on the subject of American manufacturing and job creation. He asserts that if every American purchases $50 of American-made products every year, the country will generate $15.7 billion in revenue and create countless jobs. Ohio, a well-known battleground state in the scope of presidential elections, has a population of 11,544,951 according to the July 2011 estimate by the United States Census Bureau. The state unemployment rate is at 7.0% as of September, compared with the national average in October of 7.9%, according to the Labor Department.
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The industry with the highest Gross Domestic Product in Ohio is manufacturing, as cited by the U.S. Department of Commerce. The top industries holding the most jobs in the state are trade, transportation and utilities, followed by education and health services. And 98.1% of all employers in Ohio are small businesses, according to the Small Business Administration in 2009.
Interview with Lawson NickolFOXBUSINESS.COM: What are the top three issues for you when it comes to who you’ll vote for for president?
NICKOL: I want to have a president that would tell me and convince me that bipartisanship is part of his campaign. That would be number one.
Number two: I believe that we need to fix the tax reforms. In the United States, 80% of the gross domestic product is small-to-medium-sized businesses and they struggle. It didn’t work out quite well for them when the stimulus was out there. I need a president that goes after that part of what needs to happen in the United States.
Number three is a fairly obvious one: we need to change trade laws in the United States…Trade laws are set up so that it encourages entrepreneurial-type people and companies to move overseas and make the products overseas, take the manufacturing jobs over there, then leave their businesses here in the United States where they can pay less taxes. Those types of things are very irritating and, frankly, very damaging to what we have in the United States right now. The advantage of changing the trade laws would be increasing and getting back the jobs that we had ten years ago.
I believe that we need dearly to promote bipartisanship in our government. We have a tendency, for lack of a better term, for playing quite a lot of games. I think we need to change that, and I would love to have a president that has the strength and the power to promote bipartisanship. I think that if they do could that, we’re going to find a whole lot of more opportunities to stop job loss in the United States.
FOXBUSINESS.COM: On an individual employee level -- do you encourage your employees to vote in the election?
NICKOL: No, I don’t. Frankly, as a matter of fact I’m staunch on that. I don’t encourage my people to vote. I do encourage my people and friends that we need to learn what’s going on in our government. We need to determine what are the accurate facts of what’s going on. And I believe that we spend far too much time looking at the trailers that happen on TV daily and hourly and every half hour. And I think that we have a tendency to look at those types of things and, frankly, they don’t give us much information, whether accurate or any information at all, that talks about where we’re headed in the future.
FOXBUSINESS.COM: Do you vote based on political party, or on issues?
NICKOL: Issues, completely on issues. I’m non-partisan and encourage people to be non-partisan. The issues are what’s important; it doesn’t matter whether I wear a lapel that says “Republican” or I wore a lapel that says “Democrat.” The issues are what’s important.
FOXBUSINESS.COM: How many years have you been operating? How many employees did you start out with? And today?
NICKOL: We started out ten years ago and we have grown almost every year. Right now, we have about ten people in what I call administrative positions. Those administrative positions touch and reach out to another 140 jobs that are involved as we go through the chain of what we do. So, those ten people work somewhat like a project manager, and when a project manager is building a house, they are going to have to hire a plumber, an electrician, that type of thing. We create an awful lot of jobs in that same manner…The expectation for the future is we have recently purchased a building that will give us about ten times the amount of warehousing space, and we will utilize that warehousing space, add people, and we will also be putting in a cut-and-sew operation.
FOXBUSINESS.COM: What kind of health benefits plan do you provide? Has this changed in recent years?
NICKOL: We have not used health benefit plans recently. We have decided that with our growth, we’ve grown quite well for a few years, with our growth we’re looking into it right now.
FOXBUSINESS.COM: Do you expect the Obama Administration’s healthcare plan to negatively/positively/neutrally affect your business?
NICKOL: I’m thinking neutral on that.FOXBUSINESS.COM: Has the tax rate for your business changed over the years? What is your biggest complaint when it comes to the company's annual tax bill?
NICKOL: How I feel about that is that the tax rates move all the time…And we struggle due to the taxes. Big business has so many more options and ways to deal with the taxes. We need to get that playing field leveled out so that small businesses, who don’t have the option of maneuvering different ways, need to have a level playing field. That’s a concern. My complaint about taxes is that it doesn’t support small business.
FOXBUSINESS.COM: What has your hiring trend been over the years? Have you hired employees, laid off employees, or remained the same? What has prompted these changes?NICKOL: We’ve added people every year, but again, keep in mind, when we add someone into the administrative portion of the business, we add anywhere from 15 to 20 people. So, the business that we’re in creates jobs and every year we have created additional jobs each and every year that we’ve been in business. And we do it based upon the size of the business and the opportunities that we have.
FOXBUSINESS.COM: Throughout the years that you have been in business, do you remember a particularly high or low point in your business profitability? And what the cause of that was?NICKOL: Yes, very much so. In the last three years, 2009 to 2011, we grew in each of those years approximately 70% in growth in revenues. Interestingly enough, during that time frame was probably some of the toughest economic issues that we’ve had to put up with throughout the United States. Our business thrived in that period of time frankly because we have the name of “All American” and we’ve always been that way. And I believe that as we lost businesses and lost jobs and people began to realize what was going on, they started looking for USA-made…To be 100% USA-made seems to be drawing in customers.
All of us need jobs, and all of us need a way of making a living. And living a standard of living that we have had in the past. So, in my opinion, we’re about people, world humanity, jobs, new generations, and in this company – as long as I am the owner – we will not accept foreign profits at the expense of USA jobs.
In this series, we are interviewing small business owners across the nation about the political policies that affect their businesses in anticipation of the 2012 presidential election. Each profile subject has been selected randomly and does not represent the views of their respective state.