Fulfilling a recommendation made in a comprehensive report on manufacturing that was released by the Bush administration last January, Commerce Department Secretary Donald L. Evans recently announced plans to nominate Albert A. Frink Jr. to fill a new position as Assistant Secretary of Manufacturing and Services. Frink is co-founder and executive vice president of Fabrica International, a Santa Ana, Calif., manufacturer of carpets and rugs.
As the new “manufacturing czar,” Frink will serve as the administration’s point person for manufacturing, focusing on ways to help the sector grow, create jobs and compete in the global economy. His appointment is subject to Congressional confirmation.
The selection of Frink came about a month after the administration’s first choice for the job reportedly withdrew from consideration. According to press reports, Anthony Raimondo, chief executive at Columbus, Neb.-based Behlen Manufacturing Co., had been selected, though not announced, to fill the position, but dropped out following criticism that he had eliminated U.S. jobs and moved some operations to China.
Evans announced Frink’s nomination in Mount Vernon, Ohio, during an April 8 “town hall” meeting with employees of Ariel Corp., a maker of compressors used in the natural gas industry. Evans also appointed Don Wainwright as chairman, and Karen Wright as vice chairman, of a new Manufacturing Council formed to ensure that manufacturers have a voice in the implementation of the administration’s manufacturing initiatives. Wainwright is chairman and chief executive officer of St. Louis-based Wainwright Industries, a manufacturer of stamped and machined parts. Wright is president and owner of Ariel.
The nominations drew praise from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). “Al (Frink) is a successful business leader with extensive experience in public policy,” said NAM President Jerry Jasinowski. “He has served on the Commerce Department’s Exporter’s Textile Advisory Committee, and is a 2004 inductee to the Small Business Administration Hall of Fame. He will be an excellent advocate for U.S. manufacturing.” In reference to the additional appointments of Wainwright and Wright, Jasinowski added, “This is a quality team that will do great things to bring government policies more into alignment with manufacturing priorities.”
The Evans announcements were in line with an approach outlined in an earlier Commerce Department report, titled, “Manufacturing in America—A Comprehensive Strategy to Address the Challenges to U.S. Manufacturers” (see Automation World, February, p. 64). Among other things, the report recommended Commerce Department creation of an Assistant Secretary position to focus on manufacturing issues, as well as the formation of a Manufacturing Advisory Council that would include industry leaders.
As the Assistant Secretary, Frink will advocate, coordinate and implement policies that will help U.S. manufacturers compete globally, the Commerce Department said. Some of the challenges he will focus on include:
• Enhancing government’s focus on manufacturing competitiveness
• Creating the conditions for economic growth and manufacturing investment
• Promoting open markets and a level playing field
• Lowering the cost of manufacturing in the United States
• Investing in innovation
• Strengthening education, retraining and economic diversification.
“Al’s extensive background as a manufacturer makes him a great candidate to serve because he has walked in their shoes and knows first hand the barriers that are challenging American manufacturers,” Evans said.