SOUTHINGTON—It was a familiar scene. A politician getting a tour of a local business. It’s a scene that will repeat itself over and over again during the 2012 election cycle.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon, visited Florian Tools in Southington Tuesday to see how this company, founded in 1937, survives.
McMahon toured the manufacturing facility with Co-owners Nathaniel Florian, his son Sean and Sean’s wife Beth Florian.
The Florian’s told McMahon that one of the reasons that the company has stayed strong is their decision years ago to make their own product line. For example, the company has been making their own line of pruning shears since the 1960’s.
“My father noticed my mother struggling with pruning shears and decided to develop his own,” said Nathaniel Florian. “The company then started selling their products for retail and trade shows.”
Nathaniel believes that keeping their manufacturing in the U.S. has also helped them earn customer loyalty over the years.
“We have found that if you can solve a customer’s problem then that can build a customer’s loyalty,” he said.
The Florians were able to keep manufacturing in the U.S. by being “diversified, always developing new work; and finding a niche and then working to fill it,” he said.
Following the tour, McMahon joined a group of small business owners for a luncheon on the second floor of the Florian building. McMahon noted that she did not have all the answers to the small business owner’s needs, but that she was open to hearing their concerns in order to best represent them if elected to the U.S. Senate.
The concerns of the group ranged from banks that are no longer giving small business loans, to the cost of regulations, and increased taxes.
Melissa Sheffy, owner of Network Interior INC., a construction company out of Plainfield expressed a dichotomy in the work place. “American workers who are able to collect twenty-six weeks of unemployment don’t want to work, and illegals who want to work, we can’t hire,” she said.
Jeff Gagnon, of Coil Pro Machinery where McMahon announced her latest senatorial bid, also noted a lack of a work ethic. “Manufacturing is technical,” he said. As older employees retire and need to be replaced Gagnon sees a lack of skilled workers too fill those jobs.
McMahon pointed to a need to support our vocational and trade schools. “We need to give people the opportunity to work. A focus on vocational schools can improve the workforce,” she said.
As a former business owner herself McMahon is focusing her campaign on building jobs by supporting the needs of small business owners and especially family-owned businesses.
“We need recommendations that help a small business owner get a loan from their local bank so they can hire people, buy more equipment and raw materials, and produce and sell more products. Small business owners will be the ones who put Americans back to work – not government,” McMahon wrote in a statement on her website.
McMahon’s tour of small businesses coincides with Women-Owned Small Business Month. With women responsible for employing more than 92,000 workers, McMahon will be hosting more of these events throughout the month in different parts of the state.
McMahon is the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment. She gave up the position in 2009 to run for U.S. Senate against Richard Blumenthal. She lost by more than 100,000 votes in 2010, but she said the day she announced her campaign that this time things will be different.
She isn’t running against a 20-year incumbent attorney general. Her Republican opponents include former U.S. Rep. Chris Shays, Vernon Mayor Jason McCoy, and attorney Brian K. Hill of Windsor, none of whom have run statewide campaigns.
McMahon is also working hard to improve her image with female voters.