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. Click here to continue reading

Romney, Most Qualified in Our Lifetime!

A Lifetime of Experience and Preparation
America's Defining Moment

As a conservative American, married for forty years to the love of my life, father of six and grandfather of seventeen, and as a serial entrepreneur, I am deeply concerned, as are many, for the future of this great and blessed land. I have spent my career in business, banking and private equity. As an investor in and advisor to leading financial and business enterprises, I have witnessed the consequences of our Administration’s failed policies and ideologies. Even so, my concerns are not for me as much as they are for my progeny. A friend whom I have known for nearly seven years also echoes these same concerns. I came to know this great man, and his beautiful wife, when talking one morning about what could be done about the declining direction we were heading in our country, and their mutual yearning to make a critical difference in that direction. They had spent most of the previous decade in serving others, first in restoring confidence in and turning around the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, and second in leading the effort to turnaround a severely broken state as Governor and First Lady. We talked about the threats and challenges we faced as a nation, and what might be done to move our country forward. We discussed the alternatives proposed by the left, and how those options could undermine the very foundations of our freedom. We knew it was a pivotal time for America – we just didn’t imagine then how far off course we could be taken. Even so, they were serious about embarking on a commitment few would ever consider, running for POTUS in the 2008.

Over the past seven years I have witnessed the heart of good friends, Mitt and Ann Romney. In public and private moments they always exhibit great character, class and caring commitment to that which matters most, to a cause greater than self. Their willing sacrifice for the Presidency is not driven by personal appetite for glory, power or position, but by a sincere desire to serve our Nation and each American. Illustrative of the point, Mitt Romney will most likely be the first individual in history, if elected President, to donate his salary to charity, as he has done in previous calls to serve. Sure, he can afford it, right? Mitt Romney’s business success and consequential wealth creation has been prominently discussed in the press and will continue to be fodder for the media as the class warfare campaign of Barack Obama unfolds. The fabrications of the media would paint Mitt Romney as aloof and out of touch – how could a person of such wealth and intelligence be anything else? Most Americans cannot fathom the thought of such abundance, and would expect anyone of such wealth to be as the media or others might paint them, elite and disconnected with the common man. When you think about it, most individuals who have risen to the height of Mitt Romney’s success become consumptive and at times, “self-exiled” in their abundance. Their personal lifestyle typically reflects what most can’t completely comprehend.

Parenthetically, I was recently co-teaching a financial markets MBA course at a leading university. The students were asked what they would do with a $25 million windfall – how they would invest it and/or how they would spend it. It was an interesting exercise, as some chose to invest the preponderance, while others chose philanthropy and others chose to consume up to 40%. What would you do?

What I do know is what Mitt and Ann Romney have done and are wont to do. They are the very antithesis of the media’s aloof creation. Aside from their great generosity in almsgiving, they have given of themselves, always. They care! And, they relate to you and me. They are as real as real gets, and those who have been touched by a personal experience can attest to who they truly are. Many, many individuals and families have experienced their empathy and caring love through anonymous acts of kindness. Further, their private lives are more like yours and mine than you might imagine. They do for themselves and their family what you and I do for ours – they do not live the life that many might expect.

For the Right Reason - Committed!

Mitt and Ann Romney’s commitment to this country is heartfelt and self-evident in a sacrifice most of us would be unwilling to make, given their station in life. Amid their comfort, they and their family have chosen the greater good and set aside personal interest and seeming ease to serve. If anyone wants to know what is in store, seek out those who have served with them in past efforts, and you will come away knowing Mitt and Ann Romney a little better. Somehow the cynic in me doesn’t have confidence that the media will pursue such a course. And, Mitt and Ann Romney are not inclined to self-promotion. That said my hope is that those of us around them might take up the charge.

As we consider the choice before us and who it is that will lead our nation at this critical juncture, we must better understand where we have come from, where we are and why, and what is needed to put us on the right course to restore that which has been lost. With this foundation we can look to the character, competence and capacity of Mitt Romney and why it is so important that he be elected in this season of our nation’s struggles. Uniquely, Mitt Romney’s life and experience has been a preparation for this time, America’s defining moment.

Karen Hughes, former Advisor to President George W. Bush, provides tremendous and experienced insight here.

Jack Welch agrees and recently stated, “In my lifetime, Mitt Romney is the most qualified leader I’ve ever seen run for the Presidency of the United States.”