At the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) autumn board meeting, former Michigan Gov. John Engler was elected president of NAM. Source: NAM

WASHINGTON, D.C.-The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM, www.nam.org) elected new leadership to champion U.S. manufacturing and advocate pro-growth policies. The NAM Board of Directors elected MeadWestvaco Corp. Chairman and CEO John A. Luke Jr. as 2004-05 NAM Chairman and former governor of Michigan John Engler as the association's first new president since 1990. Engler succeeds Jerry Jasinowski who is retiring after 15 years as chief of the nation's largest industrial trade association.

"Our first, long-term challenge is to ensure that policymakers and voters understand that manufacturing matters greatly to our future as a nation. Very simply, we are in the early stage of a new world order, marked by global markets, fierce competition and serious trade policy challenges," Luke said at a September 30 news conference. "My central message for the next 12 months will be our nation's pressing need to meet the challenges of unprecedented global competition."

Former NAM Chairman Richard E. Dauch, right, introduces and swears in incoming NAM Chairman John A. Luke Jr. Source: NAM
Jasinowski said that U.S. manufacturing is experiencing a healthy recovery and continues to lead the world in global competitiveness. "We do face extraordinary challenges, including excessive costs at home, a tilted international playing field and an educational system that is failing to produce the skilled workers needed for the 21st century manufacturing workplace," he said. "I feel confident these challenges will be capably met by the leadership of John Luke and John Engler."

Engler acknowledged that it will be a big job to educate the country and the country's leaders, about the importance of manufacturing. "We simply must reduce the cost of doing business in the U.S.," said Engler. "Unfair trade practices are a problem, but some of our biggest wounds are self-inflicted. Health care and legal costs are rising at double-digit rates.

"A key priority should be to do a better job at every level educating and training the next generation of manufacturing workers. The looming shortage of skilled manufacturing employees is a real and growing threat to our ability to compete in today's high-tech global economy. We must make innovation and quality as central to our educational system as it is to U.S. manufacturing," Engler said.

"Jerry Jasinowski is bequeathing to me a robust organization at the top of its game. My challenge is to take the NAM to an even higher level in the years ahead," said Engler.