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On the Road: Minneapolis, Cincinnati, & Bentonville

Commissioner Buerkle with a representative of Polaris.

Commissioner Buerkle visits Polaris in Wyoming, MN.

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit three of America’s job creators.  Polaris, a leader in the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle (ROV) industry; Proctor and Gamble, a frontrunner in the health, personal care and home care manufacturing business and Walmart, one of the world’s leading retailers. Each company, while unique in culture and product, shared one common theme – a high level of commitment to consumer safety and consumer satisfaction.

During my visit to Polaris, it was apparent how passionate and committed the employees are about their work.  (One could not help but notice that each employee had their helmet proudly displayed at their work station.)  Those who work, engineer and design for Polaris are also rider enthusiasts who love the machines, but they also recognize, perhaps more than anyone, the need to create safe and reliable vehicles.  Polaris’ off-road vehicles especially need to be designed to handle many unpredictable terrains and be able to be used for a number of purposes.  Polaris can be commended for taking a leadership role in finding a path forward with CPSC to establish a ROV voluntary standard that hopefully both industry and CPSC will agree to.

Commissioner Buerkle with members of Procter & Gamble.

Commissioner Buerkle visits Procter & Gamble’s headquarters in Cincinnati, OH

Proctor & Gamble, one of the largest American multi-national companies of consumer goods, has demonstrated a track record of innovating some of the most well-known, loved and used health, personal care, and home-care products in the world.  These products have transformed the way people live and care for themselves, their families, their homes and the environment.  Proctor & Gamble has established a corporate culture that exhibits commitment to consumer safety, product innovation, sustainability, and corporate social responsibility.  Proctor & Gamble recently worked very hard to help develop a new voluntary standard for laundry pods.

Walmart is one of the world’s largest private employers with about 2.2 million employees and is the largest retailer in the world.  Walmart’s business model is based on saving consumers money by offering low prices to make lives better. This model was the hallmark of the company’s founder, Sam Walton.

As a Commissioner at the CPSC, it is important to be pro-active and get out of the confines of Washington to learn and better understand how our actions as regulators impact hard working Americans.  Seeing businesses up close and talking to “real” people helps better identify what is working with the regulatory state and what is not. While the intentions of government regulators are oft thought of as noble, the impact on businesses may not be.  Are we regulating business or are we becoming bureaucratic micro-managers? [1]

Commissioner Buerkle with a representative of Walmart.

Commissioner Buerkle visits Walmart Headquarters in Bentonville, AR.

My latest tour of American businesses has reinforced what I have come to know since joining the Commission.  Most companies want to do the right thing when it comes to complying with government regulations.  Today, the state of regulation in this country is staggering [2].  Business leaders face a complex regulatory state that is complicated to understand and manage.

As regulators we must do the very best we can to work with our trade communities and business leaders to develop better relationships.  CPSC could avoid wasting tax-payers dollars on ineffective and ill-conceived rulemaking if we would engage earlier with those who understand the intricacies of the industry to be regulated.

It greatly concerns me that we have decided to use a big stick when it comes to our civil penalties rather than a carrot.  I firmly believe in developing better ways to help companies understand their reporting obligations. [3]

As federal regulators, we are obligated to the American people, who pay our salaries, to do all we can to not to slow down an already lethargic economy.  Americans are asking for more jobs, not more regulations.








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