Originally posted in CRN.com by Steven Burke and Michael Novinson on November 9, 2016
Solution providers Wednesday said they are hopeful that the election of Donald Trump as the next U.S. president will bring much needed tax relief, health care cost improvements and regulatory reform, particularly for small businesses.
“I am excited because I think there is going to be some tax relief and hopefully fewer regulations going forward,” said Rick Chernick, CEO of Camera Corner Connecting Point of Green Bay, Wis., a state that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was heavily favored to win but was taken by Trump, the first Republican to win the state since the 1984 election. “I am hoping this is going to make it easier to do business and bring some fun back to doing business.”
“Right now it is so stressful because every time you turn around there are more regulations that we have to deal with to keep up with that the government throws at us,” said Chernick, who has grown Camera Corner Connecting Point from a small camera store that his father founded in 1953 into one of the top technology services companies in the country. “It is ridiculous. It truly has taken the fun out of being in business.”
Trump won the Nov. 8 election for the 45th president of the U.S. with 279 electoral college votes. He needed 270 to win. Clinton won 228 electoral votes and appears to have won the popular vote with 59,600,327 votes to Trump’s 59,389,590 according to results posted by the Journal Wednesday afternoon, showcasing the divisiveness of a campaign that turned caustic at times on issues such as immigration, race and trade policies.
Not all solution providers were ebullient about the Trump victory. “Trump scares me,” said the CEO for a large national solution provider, who did not want to be identified. “He has a bad combination of enormous ego and the lack of any true experience and knowledge as to that it really takes to get things done. That is a bad combination. I can’t picture Trump running anything. He just can’t see out of his shadow.”
A CRN poll of 1,300 solution providers  that ran from Oct. 6 through Nov. 4 showed 46 percent of respondents felt Trump would be the better candidate for business, with 44 percent saying Clinton would be the better candidate. But that result showed a tremendous narrowing of the gap by Clinton in the month leading up to the election. Clinton trailed Trump by 14 percentage points in the same CRN poll the previous month.
Chernick, who voted for Trump, said he did not tell any of his employees who he was voting for, but did urge his employees to exercise “your God given right to vote. People have fought for our freedoms don’t let them down.”
Chernick, who Wednesday was at a customer meeting in Louisville, said he has gotten numerous emails from his employees excited about the Trump victory. “People are saying, ‘You are quiet, boss,” he said. “I never told anyone who I was voting for until now. I just let it go. My people made their own choice. It seems it was a heavy Trump vote. The people spoke last night.”
Among the biggest hits to his business in recent years, Chernick said, are the paperwork and expenses associated with the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as “Obamacare.” “There are lots of things that we have to do with filling out forms and record-keeping,” he said. “It is a cumbersome amount of things we have to do as a small business. It is miserable.”
Another big hit to his business – a $10,000 audit fee that companies with more than 100 employees must undertake to comply with federal regulations related to the company’s profit sharing plan. “It’s that kind of regulation that makes companies not want to go over 100 employees,” he said.
Solution provider Knowledge Information Systems (KIS) is also struggling with government regulation, said President Augie Riolo. KIS is based in Virginia Beach, Virg., a state that went to Trump’s Democratic adversary, Clinton. KIS works extensively with the U.S. government, and the terms and conditions for contracts of more than $100,000 require extensive reporting on everything ranging from management salaries to the demographic breakdown of the solution provider’s workforce, Riolo said.
“The level of intrusion is incredibly burdensome,” Riolo said. “It is a problem for businesses dealing with the United States government,” he said.
Major contractors often add the cost of the reporting back to the contract, Riolo said. But for smaller solution providers in a competitive market, adding that reporting cost to the overall contract amount can result in being priced out of the market, Riolo said.
Riolo also hopes Trump will provide relief to the increasing health care costs KIS has faced since the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. KIS has seen its health care costs increase by at least 3 percent every year since then, said Riolo, who is worried that his company could see a double-digit increase in healthcare costs going into 2017. “Anything of that size is a concern,” he said.
Michael Goldstein, CEO LAN Infotech, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a state that was also won by Trump, said a mandate from the American people for “change” and relief for small businesses was key to the Trump victory.
“Everyone is looking for change,” said Goldstein, noting he is looking for health care, tax and regulatory relief. “Small businesses have been suffering with rising taxes, health care costs and regulations. If we can get tax and regulatory relief, it is going to make us all feel better so we can just get on with doing business. Whether you are for or against Trump, now is the time for us all to come together as a country and get back to business.”Bob Venero, CEO of Holbrook, N.Y.-based solution provider Future Tech, Bob Venero, CEO of Holbrook, N.Y.-based solution provider Future Tech, said he is excited to have a “business man” running the country. “Finally we are going to have someone bringing a business acumen to a country that drastically needs it,” he said. “If you took Americas P and L (profit and loss statement) and put that into most corporations, we would have been bankrupt a long time ago. We have got to be fiscally responsible and make America everything it can and should be again.” Venero said he is also excited about Trump’s plan to reinvigorate the economy by bringing more manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. “I applaud his drive to have more manufacturing done in the U.S.,” he said. “Letting other countries do the work that should be done with the blood, sweat and tears of Americans is draining our knowledge base and our value.” Future Tech for its part has been driving more jobs for U.S. military veterans through a 10-year-old subsidiary called InSource America Veteran Series. The subsidiary provides technology services training and employment for veterans and has placed 80 veterans with companies throughout the country. “We’re continuing to grow InSource America,” he said.
Kevin McDonald, executive vice president and chief information security officer at Irvine, Calif.-based Alvaka Networks, said Trump could help ease the regulatory environment that plagues small businesses today, particularly as it relates to the Affordable Care Act and reporting requirements for companies that work with the federal government. Alvaka’s home state of California was won by Clinton.
McDonald sees Trump’s conservative positions as a bit of showmanship since the real estate mogul and reality TV personality has occupied the middle of the political spectrum for most of his public career. “I think Trump is a lot less extreme than people think he is,” McDonald said.
The CEO for a Southeast solution provider, who did not want to be identified, said he is excited that Trump, who has built a number of successful businesses, will implement policies that will help create more jobs. “Trump is going to be good for businesses,” he said. “He is going to reduce taxes, repatriate tax money from overseas. You can’t keep taxing businesses and the rich and think you are going to take care of the deficit. That is not the right formula. We need to create more jobs.”
A CEO for a large Northeast solution provider, who did not want to be identified, said Trump benefitted from Clinton’s focus on redistributing wealth. “The government can’t be in the business of redistributing wealth,” he said. “It is widely accepted that there is a wage gap, but to redistribute wealth is like going into a top performing school and saying there are too many smart people.”
Camera Corner Connecting Point’s Chernick has one piece of advice for Trump: “Don’t let us down. Follow through and give us what you promised. Deliver tax and regulatory relief. Help small businesses succeed.”
Additional Reporting By Phil Harvey