July '19

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126 • RV PRO • July 2019 rv-pro.com B U S I N E S S do you see your business experience as translating into something that will allow you to get things done in Wash- ington, D.C.? Braun: Let's look at it this way: The federal government is six to seven times the size of Walmart – the largest com- pany in the world. It's run by a bunch of bureaucrats and has a board of directors, mostly lawyers, who have never done a payroll budget in their lives. As a business guy, where you have accountability, imagine running your busi- ness where you can have a 20 percent loss on your P&L (profit and loss statement) each year and then conveniently put it on a revolving line of credit or credit card. In a nutshell, that's how the place works here. Tons of smart people but raw intelligence only takes you so far. You've got to have the feeling of what accountability is like when you run a place as poorly as this place has been run. Hell, the whole bunch would get fired and get a new management team. That doesn't work in that fashion here, but I think at least the American public is seeing that we need to change the kind of folks we send here. I think that's why President Trump was elected in '16. I saw that how well he did in places like Indiana and figured that appe- tite surely ought to still be there. RV PRO: One thing you talked about on the campaign trail was how you were able to successfully lower health care costs at Meyer. Do you feel like what you did at Meyer is translatable to American businesses in a broader way? Why or why not? Braun: I definitely do, and govern- ment-paid-for insurance as well. The health-care system evolved to where the people who use it don't understand it and have no skin in the game. They pay a small part for it as their share of the premium, especially in an employer-provided plan. When it comes to government-paid-for (insurance), there is no current skin in the game other than the taxes you paid in. That, of course, you've forgotten about by the time you use the health-care system. So, I figured all that out 10 years ago and created a plan that was consum- er-driven to where every time you engaged the health-care system you do what you do anywhere else, and say 'How much does it cost and what's my best option?' It took a while for my employees to get conditioned to do it, but you'd be surprised how positive they've responded to it – especially considering my com- pany hasn't raised premiums in 10 years, and even cut insurance costs last year when tax reform went through. When you invest in wellness, add accountability to the insurance system, and focus on keeping down costs for employers, you're generally saving 30, 40, 50 percent, as opposed to the way we've been doing it in the American health-care marketplace. RV PRO: Political observer Robert Dion has said of you, "Maybe he's going to do some heavy lifting and drafting of legislation, but it's not likely to happen straight away. He's going to have to find his footing." How is that coming along (finding your footing) after 4 months? Braun: If you have a good nose for how to find your footing, that's not dif- ficult. What's difficult is once you've found your footing and then having the patience to wait for it to unfurl. I've always been blessed to where when I get involved in something, I can figure out the main levers to pull. In the business world, I largely made – before my sons came along – all the crit- ical decisions myself. As we grew from a handful of employees to a company with nearly 1,000, you've got to be good at delegating. But you've got the motivation that if you do not embrace technology, keep your costs low, be enterprising in seeking rev- enues, there is a thing called competition that will teach you how to do it. And if you don't get with it, you'll be out of business. Here, there are none of those reper- cussions and you've got to accept in the present that you're going to have plenty of time to find your footing because nothing here happens very quickly. I cite the Crim- inal Justice Reform bill. They were all happy, high-fiving they did something on a bipartisan basis, passed with 87 votes in the Senate. I asked them how long it took. I was expecting three, four, five years. (The answer was) 10 to 12 years. You know why? Because we were running out of prison capacity across the country. That's the way this place works. That's frustrating. RV PRO: Not long after you were sworn in, the government was shut down as a result of an impasse between Con- gress and the president regarding funding Braun praises the entrepreneurial spirit and economic power of the RV industry during brief remarks at the Senate RV Caucus Reception, hosted by RVIA, on June 5 at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill. U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R.-Ind., and U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, also addressed caucus reception attendees.

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