First, big APOLOGIES for my lack of blogging–Unfortunately, I had emergency surgery on my hand and have been unable to use the keyboard as fluidly as I might like. So please bear with me. Hopefully I will be able to blog again regularly in the near future. In the meantime, I have corralled a bunch of lightning enthusiastic friends.
Also, please note that part III of my series “Misspelled, Misunderstood and Manhandled Series” on lightning protection related standards will be delayed until around March 17th. I have decided to ask Joe Lanzoni our resident expert on standards to write it with me and between my hand and his schedule, that is the earliest I can see it happening. In the meantime, please enjoy the guest bloggers. More to come!
In our world of lightning protection we export over 50% of our product to over 80 countries across the globe. In so doing there are many hurdles to jump over, as well as requirements, regulations and rules that we need to be aware of not only in the United States but in each country that we ship to. Being a winner of the “E” Award for Exporting in 2013, as well as a small business, the obstacles that are presented become a very daring game of “Red Light: Green Light” which Avram Saunders outlines in this brief commentary of the situation.
by Avram Saunders, President and CEO of Lightning Eliminators & Consultants, Inc.
When President Obama was first elected, one of his early policy decisions and efforts was to increase exports from the US to the rest of the world. Knowing full well that exports support many jobs and our economy, it made sense to encourage the business community to do what it could to grow our exports. He then set the Department of Commerce on the path of creating programs and policies to support the export initiative, which they have done. In fact, we have seen a significant increase in exports over the past several years.
However, an interesting contradiction has arisen. While the Department of Commerce is working diligently to increase exports, the Department of Justice (DoJ) has expanded its definitions of illegal practices under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and as a consequence increased dramatically the number of prosecutions under that statute. Essentially, DoJ has expanded the act so that exporters are now responsible for knowing and acting on “indirect” information. For example, if an independent agent acts in an inappropriate way, even if you as the exporter truly did not know about such acts, you may still be responsible and held accountable under the law. No reasonable business leader supports or encourages corruption. But, this is not, in my view, what the statute says or intended. Exporters across the spectrum from large to small companies are now subject to this increased scrutiny and potential litigation. This reality has the exact opposite impact of what the President and the Department of Commerce had intended. Instead of sending a supportive message to exporters, we now have to pay increased attention to even the potential possibility of an investigation and litigation coming from DoJ. This results in increased costs and reluctance to enter into or increase our focus on the export markets.
As a small company, this additional burden poses a serious and major impediment to growing our export markets, increases our costs and raises administrative challenges that make it much more difficult to grow our business.
When the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing, that is a recipe for failure. The business community should be proud of the fact that we are succeeding in growing exports despite this obvious and unnecessary contradiction in policy within the Federal Government. I believe each of us who are business leaders need to register our distress over this situation. Unless DoJ is made to back off expansive approach, this trend toward increased enforcement above and beyond the statutory requirements will continue. Practically, the best method would be to contact your Congressman and Senators and seek a revision/clarification to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Congress has the power to amend the statute and that is what is needed. DoJ is not likely to back off otherwise.
About Avram Saunders:
Avram Saunders presently serves as the President and CEO of Lightning Eliminators & Consultants, Inc. (LEC), a company based in Boulder, CO specializing in lightning protection and prevention products, solutions and services to over 76 countries crossing several industries. Over the past 40 years, Avram Saunders has brought a wealth of business experience to his various endeavors. Mr. Saunders’ versatile background as a lawyer, businessman and entrepreneur has contributed greatly to the projects he has been part of and has enabled success in the management, administration, financial analysis, negotiations, legal processes and review of corporate enterprises, small businesses and government agencies he has worked with.
Graduating in 1977 from Antioch School of Law, Mr. Saunders started his career in Washington D.C. in the government, legal and higher education sectors, working for such agencies as USHEW, the Neighborhood Legal Services Program, USHHS, in addition to being Assistant Dean of Administration at Antioch School of Law. Moving to Colorado in the early 1980’s, he worked as Administrative Officer for the Department of Energy in Denver and began branching out into entrepreneurial endeavors in the 1990s focusing on Educational Resources, Medicine, and Real Estate leading him to his present position at LEC.
Presently Mr. Saunders serves on both the Governor’s Small Business Council and Manufacturing Council in the State of Colorado and is extremely active in the Colorado Business Community. In addition, Mr. Saunders has been asked to contribute to several publications such as the Washington Post due to his knowledge and expertise in the subject matter(s) of Law, Exporting and Small Business.
If you have any questions or require additional information please email LightningDiva@lecglobal.com