Q and A with Rick Wuest, President of Thompson CreekJanuary 25th, 2011 by DWM Magazine
When President Obama visited Thompson Creek Window Co. on January 7, owner Rick Wuest may not have been prepared for all the attention he would get after the President’s visit. DWM talked to Wuest a few weeks after the call to learn of the frenzy that ensued both before and after President Obama descended on the Maryland-based window maker.
DWM: So first tell me how much in advance you learned of the president’s visit and your initial reaction?
Wuest: We received a couple days’ notice for his Friday visit—by Wednesday afternoon it was official. My initial reaction was I was cautiously optimistic when I heard the White House was looking for a location to have an event. Thursday was spent cleaning, getting ready for the Secret Service, press corps, etc.
DWM: What was the response after his visit?
Wuest: The swelling of response when word stated trickling up that he was coming was enormous. It grew while the event was going on and people were watching it on television. Of course, people heard about it after the fact as well and started to contact me: old neighbors, former workforce and all kinds of business associates. But the best part was the people who work here who watched the company grow, etc. It was validation of the pride we have here and it was great to be acknowledged on such a large scale.
Our customers called in as many of them saw it covered in the local media, the Washington Post, etc. A lot of customers realized that something special was happening.
Regardless of politics people recognized the importance of the visit: job creation, investment in the company. Politics aside, it was a fantastic day.
DWM: So what was it like on a personal level to meet the president?
Wuest: Meeting the president—it doesn’t happen every day so you get a little star struck. He is very charismatic, and we had about ten minutes to converse as we moved around the plant. We talked about everything from his recent vacation in Hawaii to my early days building windows. One of the things I told him about was my first tour of the White House when I was 13. I was struck by the fact that I had the ability to reciprocate and give the White House a tour. I told him I never would have dreamt that at 13 years old. I also took the opportunity to quiz him about the windows in the White House, but I don’t think he is the owner of the property. He told me the carbon footprint over there is rather large.
When we concluded the tour I met the economic team [that he was introducing that day] and he expressed a desire to continue to promote energy efficiency, in particular with windows. He made it clear he was looking for opportunities to promote efficiency, so that gave me some hope that he will create some programs that will benefit our industry.
To hear him incorporate some of my comments into his speech was great. I talked to him about .30/.30 ….. He went off the teleprompter and included some of those remarks. He was listening. It wasn’t just a photo opportunity for him. He was really interested, so I’m very hopeful.