The press had already announced that President George W. Bush would be visiting Louisville , Kentucky on February 26 th for a campaign fund-raising luncheon. What they didn’t know is that he’d be making another stop that morning at ISCO Industries.
“When we got the call from The White House we were surprised, honored and anxious at the same time,” said James Kirchdorfer, Sr., ISCO’s Chairman.
ISCO Industries has quickly become one of the nation’s largest distributors and manufacturers of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) piping products, stocking and selling pipe and fittings for various industrial, municipal, environmental and landfill applications throughout the nation.
“They said we had been hand-picked from a short list of growing companies in the Louisville area to host the President – if we wanted to,” smiled Kirchdorfer. “It didn’t take us long to decide.”
What came next was a hectic week of intense planning and preparation. The White House advance team and The Secret Service arrived several days early to tour ISCO’s Chestnut Street fabrication facility.
“They were friendly, professional and very organized,” said Mark Kirchdorfer, ISCO’s Vice President and Director of Operations. The White House has several advance teams traveling the nation setting up Presidential visits like this one. The 15 year old fabrication facility presented some challenges for the event. “We keep a clean shop,” said Mark Kirchdorfer, “but cutting and fusing pipe and fittings can be pretty messy, so we had a lot of work ahead of us to get everything ship shape in a very short time.”
Although the facility is large, over 16,000 square feet, it was filled with tons of cutting and fusing equipment and accessories, much of which had to be moved out of the building to make room for the President’s staff, several hundred guests and members of the local and national press. The White House advance team worked with the Kirchdorfers to turn the facility into a series of rooms that included two press centers, a presidential reception area, and a large auditorium where the actual event would be held.
“After the plan was set it was obvious that Chestnut Street would have to be totally shut down,” said ISCO President Jimmy Kirchdorfer. “We immediately started moving our fabrication orders to our other facilities around the country.”
We were certainly proud and honored to have been chosen to host the visit, and I was equally proud of all the hard work put in by our employees to make this a banner day in the history of ISCO
Construction on the large stage began early in the week as equipment was removed from the room. ISCO fabricators went to work creating a unique backdrop made of 20 foot tall, 12 inch diameter HDPE pipe placed upright, side by side, and cut on a diagonal. Over 100 temporary phone lines were also installed to enable the press to post their stories from the event. After hundreds of hours of work and backbreaking preparation, ISCO was ready to host the Commander in Chief.
Everyone entering the facility the morning of the visit passed through elaborate security screening. A female vocal trio entertained the capacity crowd on hand, closing their set with the popular song “I’m Proud to be an American” followed by an acappella rendition of the National Anthem.
The President arrived shortly after to much fanfare and took the stage, surrounded by over sixty ISCO employees seated in chairs behind him. James Kirchdorfer, Sr. welcomed the President, who returned the favor by praising ISCO’s steady growth and success over the past few years – due in part to his administration’s economic policies.
“Tax cuts help small business,” said Bush. “And if you’re worried about job creation like I am, and you understand that most new jobs are created by small business; it made eminent sense to have policies that affected small businesses in a positive way.”
The President delivered his remarks in a town hall meeting-style, seated casually on stage with Kirchdorfer Sr.; Rich Gimmel, President of Atlas Machine & Supply; Jeannie Unruh, Chief Executive Officer of MAC Construction; and ISCO employees Libby McKinney and Rob Hansen. Both Gimmel and Unruh discussed how tax policies in place had helped grow their businesses, with Unruh commenting that tax savings had enabled MAC to continue to offer 100% paid health insurance for her employees.
In his response to the President’s remarks, Kirchdorfer, Sr. trumpeted ISCO’s addition of eight new sales/stocking locations, the addition of 60 new jobs, and a 50% growth in sales over 2001/2002 as a direct result of the Bush tax cuts and programs benefiting small businesses.
“Low interest rates and accelerated bonus appreciation benefits have enabled us to buy equipment and add jobs around the country,” said Kirchdorfer, Sr. In what could be considered one of the President’s first salvos in his re-election bid, he used the ISCO presentation to call upon Congress to make the tax cuts permanent as a way to stimulate more economic activity.
At the close of the event, the President shook hands with all the ISCO employees on stage, and was then presented with a commemorative fabricated polyethylene ‘W.’ After a few more handshakes, photos and autographs, the President left for a luncheon in downtown Louisville.
“It was well worth all the preparation,” said Jimmy Kirchdorfer. “We were certainly proud and honored to have been chosen to host the visit, and I was equally proud of all the hard work put in by our employees to make this a banner day in the history of ISCO,” he said..
ISCO Industries stocks and sells HDPE pipe, fittings and fabrications for various industrial, municipal, environmental and landfill applications throughout the United States . The company also rents, services and sells McElroy fusion equipment. Besides its newest locations in Salt Lake City, Utah and Tucson, Arizona, ISCO also has stocking locations in the states of Colorado, Washington, California, Michigan, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas and the greater Chicago and St. Louis areas – inventorying large stockpiles of pipe, usually within one day’s delivery of most projects.