He spoke with News Editor Lindsay Chappell about his need for government support for local manufacturing. Here are edited excerpts.
Q: You've focused on bringing down Yaz-aki's costs and putting the company on a new path toward more sophisticated products. Does the government have a role to play in that?
A: Yes, definitely. And I've asked for their support.
What support is needed?
I recently went to our plant in Bulgaria to see the line and see how it works. Bulgaria is my biggest problem. We need to better train our people there. I went to the Bulgarian government and said: "I don't have the authority to leave the country but I have the authority to recommend leaving the country. And here are the things I need from you. First, we want to have a labor subsidy. Second, we need to have a couple of million available because we train people every year. And third, we want to have a couple of million to support our outbound logistics."
If we get it, we get it. If we don't, we don't.
That sounds demanding. But local governments in the U.S. routinely provide such support in incentives, training and transportation, don't they?
Yes. And I've asked for tax support. I recently asked for a tax rebate for our operations in Nicaragua.
And I asked for 25 percent lower electricity costs, and we got it.
You've met with the governor of Michigan. What do you want from Michigan?
I'd like recognition that we are adding value as a manufacturer in Michigan.
My favorite plant is in Petoskey, Michigan. We have 200 people there and many customers working on-site, and everyone knows what their job is.
We do plating there and recycle our water so we don't do any polluting.
Any time I have a bad day, I go to Petoskey to see them in operation. They do fantastic work.
We only have two problems in Petoskey: how to continue to grow the business, and how to attract the next generation of people who want to work there. I'd like to open up the plant and let people come in and see what we do to see that it's a good high-tech place to work.
How can Michigan help with that?
I have no problem paying taxes here, but if I could pay less in taxes I'd like that. If I could do that, I could hire more people and train more people there.
In the last recession, I had to move engineers to Mexico. Now I'm moving them back. I want them to be in Michigan.