CEO Lee Conn invited to meeting on Capitol Hill
Motus Motorcycles recently received an intriguing invite. It started off: “The President requests the pleasure of your company …” Yes, the president of the United States.
Motus was invited, along with about 100 other small businesses, to attend the aptly named event “American Small Business — Engine of the American Dream” on Aug. 1 at the White House. Of course, by engine the administration meant the driver of the American Dream, but it was appropriate for attendance by Motus.
Part of American Dream Week at the White House, the event centered around President Donald Trump, his senior advisor and daughter Ivanka Trump and Small Business Administration administrator Linda McMahon sharing their commitment to institute policies to help small businesses with entrepreneurs from across the U.S. After President Trump made a statement to the group, McMahon and Ivanka Trump hosted a Q&A. Topics discussed include tax reform, growth resources and regulatory relief.
The event also highlighted the contributions small businesses bring to America and its economy. Small businesses in attendance included those from manufacturing, retail and service.
After learning about the event, Powersports Business senior editor Liz Keener caught up with Motus CEO Lee Conn, who attended the discussion at the White House, to find out more about the experience. Conn shared his thoughts from Motus headquarters in Birmingham, Alabama.
Powersports Business: Tell me about the event.
Lee Conn: While Motus is not political as a company, we are very interested in topics relating to small business. It was a huge honor to visit the White House and personally hear from President Trump, Ivanka and SBA Administrator McMahon about their agenda on small business, their ongoing efforts and challenges, etc.
PSB: Why were you invited?
LC: Since 2008, we’ve worked closely with the Alabama Small Business Development Center, one of the state agencies tied to the federal SBA, on a number of projects. The ASBDC has been a fantastic resource for Motus, consulting on projects related to inventory control, component storage and transportation, shipping and export regulations and procedures, and even dealer selection and analysis. Through all that, we’ve made some great friends at the local, state and federal SBA level, and they thought that Motus was a good candidate to speak to our experiences from startup through manufacturing production. People tend to think of the SBA as a lender of sorts, but they’ve never assisted Motus in that particular way. They have a number of other resources to assist small businesses that can be really helpful.
PSB: What was the focus/purpose of the event?
LC: The event was a roundtable discussion called “Small Business in America — The Engine of the American Dream.” Has a nice ring, no? The event was an opportunity for a small group of entrepreneurs to listen to the president, his daughter/advisor and the administrator of the SBA articulate their agenda related to growing and supporting small businesses, which are the backbone of the American economy, as well as ask questions important to them.
Now that I think of it, with a few exceptions like Harley and Polaris, almost everyone involved in the motorcycle industry in the U.S. is in small business. The definitions vary, but generally small businesses have less than 500 employees. So, no matter what political leanings we have, it is important to have an eye on the current leadership and how they view small business and the Small Business Administration.
PSB: What happened at the event? What was the experience like?
LC: The event was in the beautiful East Room of the White House. A number of U.S. senators and congresspeople were in attendance, as well as many of the administration’s top advisors, counselors and staff, including Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Kellyanne Conway, Gary Cohn, etc.
Among other topics, some were reduction of unnecessary and burdensome regulation and red tape, a subject we have great interest in; the goal of reducing the corporate tax rate so small businesses can reinvest in staff, equipment, training; and hopeful healthcare reform, which is an area of interest for all employers. Mrs. McMahon also stressed that one of her goals is to make sure more entrepreneurs learn about and take advantage of the various resources the SBA has.
Mr. Trump read a prepared speech and made some insightful comments. He pointed to the recent successes of the stock market and the employment reports. Ivanka had no notes or a prepared speech, but I found her comments to be extremely well considered and optimistic. She led much of the Q&A, with some questions going to administrator McMahon.