Carolina Color CEO touts 93 percent positive outlook with Trump

Matt Barr, head of Salisbury-based company, joined other leaders in discussing manufacturing hurdles with president

SALISBURY — Matt Barr admitted being awestruck in the White House last Friday, even if the Oval Office was smaller than he imagined it would be.”I’ve seen this from so many pictures and so many videos and what not, and what struck me the most, I guess, is it’s smaller than maybe I had envisioned,” Barr said.Barr, CEO and chairman of Salisbury-based Carolina Color Corporation, was representing his company and 14,000 others as one of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) executive committee members invited to meet President Donald Trump.Trump welcomed the leaders of NAM to Washington, D.C., after the organization released results of their quarterly poll revealing 93.3 percent of the group’s respondents had positive outlooks for their companies — an all-time high.”Basically it shows that there’s a rising confidence and belief that this administration will bring some regulatory relief, tax reform, an infrastructure package,” said Barr, who has been with Carolina Color, which also has a facility in Ohio, since 1998. “This pro-growth agenda from Washington, the policies they’re bringing forth, is exciting and it was reflected in this survey.”Following Trump’s victory, the organization’s December poll saw a 77.8 percent positive outlook, up from 56.6 percent last March under then-president Barack Obama.Barr — whose Carolina Color is celebrating its 50th year making concentrated pellets that color everything from red Coca-Cola caps to the rolling garbage bin you push to your curb each week — said Trump had a genuine interest in the concerns of NAM and an understanding of the challenges manufacturers have faced over the last decade due to regulation and high taxes.”It’s clear that he’s committed to unleashing the power of manufacturing and putting people back to work,” Barr said. “And that’s exciting — we kind of feel we have the wind at our back here, which we haven’t experienced in quite some time.”Barr said Trump’s executive orders and promises to tackle health care and tax reform, focus on the energy sector, and — perhaps most importantly — roll back regulations all align with NAM’s focus.”If you look at the regulatory burden that companies small and large face, there are some 297,000 restrictions on our operations from a federal rules and [regulations] standpoint,” Barr said. “And the average cost for that on a per employee basis for companies with 50 or fewer employees is almost $35,000 per employee.”It’s just difficult, and it has sort of blunted growth in the manufacturing sector.”Barr said the “umbrella issues” NAM discussed with Trump would benefit all their member companies — from a 10-person mom and pop business to a Fortune 10 corporation.”We’re all for clean water and clean air, healthy families, happy customers,” Barr said of the member companies. “And I think people sort of paint us with a broad brush: ‘They don’t want any regulations.’ That’s not the case at all. We just want smart, simple and predictable regulations that we can work with.”