Romney’s NEW OP-ED: What I Learned at Bain Capital

Mitt Romney at Bain

Romney Economics! Investing in Companies and Creating Jobs.

The original may be found on yesterday’s Wall Street Journal editorial page.

The back-to-school season is here, and as parents take their children to shop for school supplies, I suspect that many of them will be visiting a Staples store. I’m very familiar with those stores because Staples is one of many businesses we helped create and expand at Bain Capital, a firm that my colleagues and I built. The firm succeeded by growing and fixing companies.

The lessons I learned over my 15 years at Bain Capital were valuable in helping me turn around the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. They also helped me as governor of Massachusetts to turn a budget deficit into a surplus and reduce our unemployment rate to 4.7%. The lessons from that time would help me as president to fix our economy, create jobs and get things done in Washington.

A broad message emerges from my Bain Capital days: A good idea is not enough for a business to succeed. It requires a talented team, a good business plan and capital to execute it. That was true of companies we helped start, like Staples and the Bright Horizons child-care provider, and several of the struggling companies we helped turn around, like the Brookstone retailer and the contact-lens maker Wesley Jessen.

My presidency would make it easier for entrepreneurs and small businesses to get the investment dollars they need to grow, by reducing and simplifying taxes; replacing Obamacare with real health-care reform that contains costs and improves care; and by stemming the flood of new regulations that are tying small businesses in knots.

My business experience confirmed my belief in empowering people. For example, at Bain Capital we bought Accuride, a company that made truck rims and wheels, because we saw untapped potential there. We instituted performance bonuses for the management team, which had a dramatic impact. The managers made the plants more productive, and the company started growing, adding 300 jobs while Bain was involved. My faith in people, not government, is at the foundation of my plan to strengthen America’s middle class.

I also saw firsthand through these investments how energy costs impact the ability of a business to grow. Today, energy costs are weighing on job creators across America because President Obama has limited energy exploration and restricted development in ways that sap economic performance, curtail growth, and kill jobs. I will take a sensible approach to tapping our energy resources, which will both create jobs and make energy more affordable for every sector of our economy.

In the 1990s, when the “old-technology” steel industry in the U.S. was failing, Bain Capital helped build a new steel company, Steel Dynamics, which has grown into one of the largest steel producers in America today, holding its own against Chinese producers. The key to its success? State-of-the-art new technology.

Here are two lessons from the Steel Dynamics story: First, innovation is essential to the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing. We are the most innovative, entrepreneurial nation in the world. To maintain that lead, we must give people the skills to succeed. My plan for a stronger middle class includes policies to give every family access to great schools and quality teachers, to improve access to higher education, and to attract and retain the best talent from around the world.

The second lesson is that we must have a level playing field in international trade. As president, I will challenge unfair trade practices that are harming American workers.

Running a business also brings lessons in tackling challenges. I was on the board of a medical diagnostic-laboratory company, Damon, when a competitor announced that it had settled with the government over a charge of fraudulent Medicare billing. I and fellow Damon outside board members joined together and immediately hired an independent law firm to examine Damon’s own practices.

The investigation revealed a need to make some changes, which we did. The company, along with several other clinical-laboratory companies, ended up being fined for billing practices. And a Damon manager who was responsible for the fraud went to jail. The experience taught me that when you see a problem, run toward it or it will only get worse.

That will be my approach to our federal budget problem. I am committed to capping federal spending below 20% of GDP and reducing nondefense discretionary spending by 5%. This will surely result in much wailing and gnashing of teeth in Washington. But a failure of leadership has created our debt crisis, and ducking responsibility will only cripple the economy and smother opportunity for our children and grandchildren.

I’m not sure Bain Capital could have grown or turned around some of the companies we invested in had we faced today’s anti-business environment. Andy Puzder, the chief executive of CKE Restaurants Inc., which employs about 21,000 people at Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurants, has said that the “current unfriendly economic environment perhaps best explains why American companies are sitting on over $2 trillion which they could invest.”

President Obama has piled on excessive regulations, proposed massive tax increases, added more than $5 trillion in federal debt, and failed to address the coming fiscal cliff—all of which is miring our nation in sluggish growth and high unemployment.

I know what it takes to turn around difficult situations. And I will put that experience to work, to get our economy back on track, create jobs, strengthen the middle class and lay the groundwork for America’s increased competitiveness in the world.

A few comments from Paul Johnson, if you’ll indulge, about why what Mitt says is so important:

1. Mitt’s succeeded before. We have some serious problems, but Mitt has displayed an unusual ability to solve difficult issues. From his tenure at Bain, to establishing and turning around other companies, to turning around the Olympics, Mitt Romney knows success and how to replicate it. (more…)

Romney Meets with Business Owners at ABI in Manchester, New Hampshire

Not content to rest up on the day before his television marathon tomorrow (Tuesday, Feb 1st), and keeping his experienced ear-to-the-ground on America’s unacceptable unemployment rate and problems the entrepreneurial community is facing, Governor Romney privately met with business owners today at ABI (Amoskeag Business Incubator) in Manchester, New Hampshire:

ABI press release:

Governor Romney Looks to NH Entrepreneurs for the Pulse of
Small Business

Manchester, NH – January 31, 2011 – The Amoskeag Business Incubator (ABI) today welcomed and hosted former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Romney toured the ABIs nearly renovated and modernized 15,000 square foot facility that is home to over 30 of New England’s most innovative companies. Romney proceeded to meet with about 10 business owners in a private session. “What I really wanted to do was come here today and get a sense of entrepreneurship in New Hampshire and for the nation; what is working and not working for you as business owners,” said Romney.

For more than an hour Governor Romney listened and shared his perspective on the need for entrepreneurship and his desire to create efficient capital markets that support the small business owner. Romney’s visit is at the ground floor of a growing entrepreneurial movement in the region that is being led by the ABI. The ABI is set to launch an exciting rebranding and strategic plan focused on a new vision that will elevate its relevance and attract the most innovative minds, ideas and businesses in New England. “There has been a lot of chatter about what we have been up to at the ABI. The energy is contagious and I think Governor Romney wanted to see for himself the new entrepreneurial landscape we are creating,” said Jamie Coughlin, VP of Strategic Initiatives at the ABI.

More from the

MONDAY UPDATES: MITT’S QUIET STOP. Mitt Romney visited the non-profit Amoskeag Business Incubator in Manchester’s Millyard while in New Hampshire today.

The Granite Status reported last Friday that the former Massachusetts governor and likely 2012 presidential candidate would be in the first-primary state today for private meetings with Republican activists.

Word of his meeting with business owners came this afternoon in a press release from the incubator. It said that Romney toured the incubator’s renovated 15,000-square-foot facility that hosts more than 30 of “New England’s most innovative companies.”

[...]ABI’s helps develop technology-based start-up companies.

► Jayde Wyatt