In the center of the picture to the left are my friends Bill and Margie Wright. They have been dear friends of our family for eight years. Their kids have played with ours; they have ten, we have eight.
They’re special people. Margie has homeschooled all of their children (so far), and Bill has built a thriving enterprise, Wright Manufacturing, which makes the best commercial lawn mowers in the world. (Full disclosure: I own a little less than one percent of his private firm.)
Wright Manufacturing is unusual because it is a very innovative firm. They manage the business well with a series of principles borrowed from some of the best Japanese manufacturers, but then marry that to the exceptional innovative engineering talent of Bill Wright and his staff. Many of his competitors license his patented technologies.
Oh, the person on the far right of the picture is, yes, President Bush. He came to visit Bill’s factory today, and gave a brief talk on the economy, and the proposed stimulus package. Here’s what he said:
1:55 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Let me tell you why I’m here. This man started his own business. He’s a manufacturer, he employs over a hundred people, and he represents the backbone of the American economy. And today I talked about our economy, and the fundamentals are strong, but there’s uncertainty. And there’s an opportunity to work with Congress to pass a pro-growth package that will deal with the uncertainty.
Any package has got to remember that jobs are created by small businesses. A good package will have incentives for investment. The package we passed early in my administration helped him. He bought some equipment and made his firm more productive, kept him in business. And that’s the same spirit that needs to be in this next growth package.
The other thing is, is that we got to make sure that we benefit consumers. We want our consumers out there spending, and the best way to do that is broad-based tax relief. Now, this plan ought to be broad-based, it ought to be simple, and it ought to be temporary.
I had a conversation, Congressman, with the leadership on both sides of the aisle yesterday, and I was encouraged by what I heard. And I believe we can come together on a growth package very quickly. We need to. We need to get this deal done and get it out and get money in the hands of our consumers and our small business owners to help this economy.
I’m optimistic, I truly am. One reason I’m optimistic is because I understand we got all kinds of Americans just like this man here, working hard to provide a living for folks and to make a product people want.
And so, while there’s some uncertainty right now, if we act quickly and in a smart way that helps growth, we’re going to be just fine.
Anyway, thanks for letting me come by. I’m proud to be — I love the entrepreneurial class in — I love people who have a dream and work hard to achieve the dream.
And so — a fine-looking machine you got here.
MR. WRIGHT: Thank you. It’s a team effort. We thank you, thank you for all your work, too.
THE PRESIDENT: Do you wonder where they got the name “Wright?” That’s his name. And his wife is the co-founder of the company. And this is — it’s really great to be with you.
And, Congressman [DM — Roscoe Bartlett, another good guy with a big family], thank you for being here. I’m proud to be with your workers. You’ve got some fine workers.
MR. WRIGHT: We’ve got a great team here, don’t we?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, you do. And if they get a little more money in their pocket as a result of the growth package, it will help make sure this economy continues to grow.
Anyway, thank you all very much.
END 1:59 P.M. EST
Bill, for all of his accomplishments, is a humble guy. He and Margie went through many lean times during the early years, and they bore with it well. The business began as a lawn mowing business, and then broadened out to software for managing lawn mowing businesses, together with grass catching attachments. That started the manufacturing. Bill developed a wide number of innovations, from zero-turning radius mowers, to sulkies, and more.
In my opinion, President Bush could not have picked a better place to visit. It is an example of American manufacturing at its best, and Bill Wright is a great example of American entrepreneurship. I am proud to be a part owner of the firm, and to have been able to help Bill at times on financial issues.
Now, for further coverage of the visit of President Bush:
As far as I am concerned, the stimulus package is hooey; what stimulus occurs now will be funded by debt and a cheaper dollar later. There is nothing wonderful there. There is something wonderful about the Wrights though, and I am happy to be a small part of that.