Uncle Sam's Secret Sauce
Uncle Sam's Secret Sauce

Episode · 1 month ago

Repatriating the Supply Chain with Art Estopinan


Art Estopinan is the Founder & President of The Estopinan Groupand EstoHealthand is a senior-level international and public affairs chief with over three decades of experience in the US Congress. He has a proven track record of utilizing the legislative process to advance important issues, has nurtured strong relationships with both major political parties, and he is an expert in legislative issues, lobbying, public policy.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Art’s career history and experience working with the first Cuban-American and first Latina to serve as an elected member of Congress, former Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
  • How the COVID-19 pandemic led to a rising demand for companies to bring jobs and the supply chain back to the United States
  • Vital lessons from Art’s childhood that have helped him find success throughout his career.
  • Why persistence and adaptability are necessary skills for successful entrepreneurship
  • Art’s top advice for up-and-coming business leaders  

Uncle Sam’s Secret Sauce is hosted by Rafael Marrero, Founder and CEO of Rafael Marrero & Company, which helps small companies do business with the world’s biggest customer: the U.S. Federal Government.

You're listening to Uncle Sam's Secret Sauce, a Raphael Morrero and Company podcast. This is a show for US small business owners and decision makers looking to grow their business. You're about to hear a conversation with successful entrepreneurs in the fields of construction, janitorial, cybersecurity, and more. Here you'll learn how to sell to the government and what this secret ingredients are for effective marketing for small businesses. Let's get into the show today. We have the honor and the privilege of interviewing someone that I highly admire, someone that I've learned a lot from that I consider a mentor in the public affairs arena, none other than Arthur Stopping Young, the CEO and president and founder of the Estopping Young Group. Art Is Stopping Young, as he is called by friends, is a senior level international and public affairs chief with more than three decades of experience in the US Congress. He's also the former chief of Staff an official spokesperson for the Chairman Emeritus of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Mr Stopignan served as a senior advisor on legislation dealing with governmental and foreign affairs and is able to effectively advocate support and advance legislative initiatives relating to pertinent issues and bring them to the Hill where he is well known and liked with both sides of the aisle, in the House and the Senate. He has an in depth understanding of the intangible qualities in economic and political infrastructures, combined with firsthand government experience at the very highest levels around the globe. Art has sound knowledge of public policy and the political arena, including legislative issues, administrative and lobbying processes, policies and procedures, and has strong ties to both major political parties. He has a proven track record of advancing important issues through the ledge relative process. Artisto being young, welcome to Uncle Sam's Secret Sauce. Well, thank you so much, Dr Marito, and you know what a generous and great introduction. You know, it's truly an honor for me to be here with you as well, and likewise, I have enjoyed the past few years working together and advancing a lot of important things, and I have a feeling that we're going to continue working in many, many more important projects here in Washington, d C. And national as we have a lot of important issues to undertake and we're hard. I mean, we've been wanting to get you on the show for quite some time. You're a busy man and hard to track down sometimes because you're you're a world traveler and you're very busy on the Hill. So we appreciate your your generous time with us today. So let's go all the way back. Please tell me about your family origins. Where do you originally hill from? Tell us about your family background. Well, I was born in Miami Beach, Florida, of Spanish mother and q and father. And my mom, even though she was born in Spain, she was raised in Cuba and then obviously when Fidel Castro started spreading communism, my father and mother are totally anti communists and they immigrated as sod refuge in the United States as Cuban refugees and the United States opened their arms. They were very grateful to be in a free and democratic country. My father fought in the Bay of Pigs. That event was very, very difficult for him as a human being. As you know, they were treated very badly by the Cubans, and until President Kennedy was able to negotiate the release of all of those brigades. But alas as they're called in Spanish. It was very difficult, and he often shared with me as a young boy the love that he has for freedom and...

...democracy and what the United States represents, because he says, we lost everything. As you know, Fidel confiscated everything. My grandfather was very successful with businesses and properties and everything in Havana, and they lost everything. The only thing that they were able to keep where is their education. From that early experience, I was very interested in politics because even though my father was from the country, from Ordin in Cuba, he was a very politically savvy and intuitive men. He knew that this country, the United States, was in trouble after a lot of policies that President Clinton started to implement, and then more so with President Obama. He was like, the United States is heading towards a socialist, communist society. And because of that interest in politics, I majored in politics science from Springhill College, which is a small Jesuit college in Mobile, Obama. And I was able to then grow when I started helping former Congresswoman Eleana Ross Layton, the first Latina to be elected in the first Cuban American a member of Congress, and it was a wonderful experience. I knew that politics was the world that I wanted to be in, and from then I worked a very, very hard to help promote her and her agenda to bring freedom of democracy to Cuba and Nicaragua at this time was also under the Sandinistas, so we did a lot of good work in helping the Nicadaguan American community, and we helped with many other issues. As Miami, South Florida, which she represented, is such an international city, we were able to help in various important projects and it gave me a sense of satisfaction. I don't know, but run the jesuit education meant for others, but serving in a selfless way, disinterested from personal benefits is what I enjoyed. And it sounds corny to some people, and it doesn't sound like realistic because today we hear so much corruption and politics. But my former boss, that's what the example that she said, and I followed it and in five years she promoted me to her ministrative assistant. Back then was really like the chief of staff. So I ran the office someone without experience. Here in Washington, I was able to because I'm a quick learner and one of the senior guys called me, you will either sink or swim. So I guess. Twenty seven years later, I guess I swam. You swim in a very you won gold medals. So tell us, after a very successful career spanning almost three decades in the US House of Representatives and retiring from there, you had an official retirement ceremony. I know this because I've seen the invitations and everything. After an illustrious career in the United States House of Representatives as a as a congressional staffer and former chief of staff for the senior most member of the Hispanic Hispanic members of Congress, you then started your firm. Tell us the name of your firm, and what exactly do you do. Yeah, it was a wonderful going away reception, retirement reception. And in Leana is so funny, she said, most of these retirement receptions are like wakes. There's like five or six got those five or six people, But here we had about two people. It was in the main Foreign Affairs committee room, and we had ambassadors. We have Congressman Senator Marco Rubill sent a beautiful letter. He was a former intern of mine, and his chief of staff read it. And it was a celebration of my years of public service and I...

...will always treasure that moment. And as you correctly stated, I started the estopenan group right after that, and I started to help folks from many different places. And since my former boss was a chairman, then became the chairman emeritus of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. A lot of it dealt with international issues. And now within the last year, I opened another business that it's called Astal Health. So we're focusing on different issues such as clean water, healthy eating, trying to bring some nurses from foreign countries because there's a great need for nurses in the United States any other fields, but especially nurses, so I'm working on that as well. And it's just been a wonderful experience. It seems like I never left the hill, but now it's in a totally different point of view. I obviously together. Yeah, right, so now you get to serve in the hill, but sitting on the other side of the table, right from the other, from another vantage point. So you launch your firm and you have a very very active media presence. I see you on all the main channels, both Spanish and English, everything from CNN and Espanol to Fox, I mean you're everywhere, So what areas do you specialize in? With the Estopian group. So with the estopion group and also with the still health I am focusing on a lot of Latin American politics and Latino Hispanic politics in the United States. As you know, the Latino community is a is a growing segment of our country. And the reality is that a lot of major corporations US corporations do not value the economic potential that Latin America has for their business is to be able to grow, and that is a tremendous disadvantage. I work closely with the Spanish government as well, not as a client, but I was a former Hispanic leader chosen by the embassy and back then it was young leader a few a few years ago, and uh, I have important context there and we have a bridge to help Hispanic owned companies to partner with Spanish companies and then going into Latin America. The Foreign Minister, I had the honor of being awarded a very high award that was presented to me by the Foreign Minister, by the Spanish Foreign Minister, and that's, you know, part of my work that I'm doing with the Hispanic community. I just feel that there's a tremendous potential. The Latino community are a rich, cultural, enthusiastic, hard working, committed people, and major US corporations really don't value that relationships on trying to develop that aspect fantastic. So you you represent both government agencies and governments that are friendly to the United States, Are you at liberty to mention some of these names and share with our listeners. Sure, and obviously everything is registered as a as a lobbyist, I disclosed, there's public disclosures. One of one of the one of the projects that I find interesting, Dr Marrero is when I represented Qatar. So I don't know if your listeners remember that the Republic of Qatar had an embargo by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and U a E. And they were upset and many reasons, but primarily because of their It's all those countries are trying to fight to see who's the leader in the Gulf countries, and they felt that because of the Sira, the news television in Qatar, that...

...they were highlighting too much of Qatar, and there were other concerns as well. But the fact of the matter is we were hired to try to help and show in the U. S. Congress the problems that this embargo presented to the small country of Qatar. A lot of resources, but this embargo really was hurting their people. So after a lot of work, and my firm was not the I wasn't the only one hired, many other firms in Washington. Here in Washington, you see where hired. We were able to help remove that embargo. So that was a very successful project that I'm very happy to have the opportunity to work on. Well, I'm sure they love you to pieces, right, because I mean, getting something like that fixed, that's a major that's a major accomplishment. Yeah, but I want to be I want to be sure that I wasn't the I wasn't the only one. I mean we they We had like ten different firm working on this. It was, like you said, it was not an easy task at all. Fair enough, So during the pandemic, many companies had to pivot and look for alternatives to keep themselves afloat and also look at new ways and means to reinvent themselves, if you will. Some people went into products when they were more in the professional services arena, such as consulting firms. Has your firm entertained any changes recently as a result of the pandemic, and if so, what are some of these changes. Yeah. Immediately, I transitioned being a Cuban American being raised in Little Havana by my father and mother. My father became disabled when I was twelve years old. My middle name is metamorphosis. I change whenever I need to be able to grow. And you know I I was able to speak to a lot of my contacts around the world, and then I was able to tap into my contacts here in the United States in the medical healthcare arena. And because of that marriage of suppliers in the US and people needing supplies, I was able to morph in my lobbying consulting firm into selling different medical devices that were related to to COVID, such as the COVID nineteen tests and masking and other things. And I was able to do that successfully in part, Dr Motetto because I'm able to transition where a lot of my former colleagues that are now in the private sector told me, no, art, thank you. I only lobby and I only do consulting. I'm like, dude, Congress is closed. What are you talking about? None of them is Cuban, right, you know there were anglers, Yeah, they ken given given Americans and let the knows. In general, I think, I think we we have it in our genes to be able to transition and change within a dime if we need to. I have a family that I have to support, So I just couldn't sit there. And I mean the loss of revenue and the inaction in Congress led me to transition a little bit. And to be honest with you, I really enjoy this business development. Well, you're you're You're a people person, and business development is all about developing relationships. That's what you've done your entire life. You've build relationships and build bridges. Right, That's how laws are passed and legislative fixes are made. Right. You need to come to compromise. You need to work with people create a win win scenario. So persistence and ability to adapt and overcome are two of your main virtues. Now are what are your thoughts and some of the existing supply chain issues in America? You know, during the pandemic we faced, we saw this backlog of ships out there and at sea, and the Long Beach poor and there were a lot of...

...items that we were missing in our supermarkets and products that were not I'm not arriving here because a lot of our production is made out ol Konis outside of continental United States. So what are your thoughts on the existing supply chain issues and what do you think, as someone with experience, can be done to remedy the situation. For example, the six bringing back to to Puerto Rico, that is a no brainer, Dr Marretto, And to be honest with you, I have worked with some of the leading business leaders in Puerto Rico and I tried to work with some of those folks in the pharmaceutical industry because bringing back the pharmaceutical industry to an island like Puerto Rico is a no brainer that will. It creates jobs, It brings back our security for medication, which is now really a national security. We all saw what happened when we needed more masks, when we needed ventilators, when we needed vaccine means, and when we need a test, the answer was no from Asia, and that is something that is totally unacceptable. And I spoke to several of these businessmen and they were like, it's more complicated on that the pharmaceutical companies have invested billions of dollars to have these factories in Asia, and they're not interested in changing that at this time. And I was I was just taken aback. I just couldn't believe it. But that is the reality, and it's it's a failure, in my opinion, of political leadership at the very top that we have lost all of these significant manufacturing jobs. And you correctly pointed out in your latest book the independence from China, because we need to have these manufacturing jobs here in the United States. And I guess it has taken this pandemic to be able to open the eyes of the political leaders and say this has to change. But we were we were totally out to launch. It is it is really our fault that this has happened, and it has taken such a crisis to open our eyes. You pointed out something very important. I mean, if you look at look at the case of Apple computer. Apple is perhaps the number one phone manufacturing company in the world and one of the leading computer companies and manufacturers in the world, and a pioneer when it comes to design and ingenuity, originality and coming out and being ahead of the curve. And at least that was the ethos when Steve Jobs was was leading Apple. Apple is a I think it was the first company to reach a trillion dollars in valuation, right to become the richest company on the planet. And a couple of others I do believe have also followed in this in their footsteps since. But what I'm trying to say is, we have one of the most valuable companies, one of the companies with the highest valuations in US history, in the in world history, and they moved their operations from California and they left for China. And I've been studying the root causes of all of this, and aren't there must be something that can be done to give benefits to a company like Apple, to have them repatriate their supply chain and bring it back home. There are economic opportunity zones here in America, great urban areas that need to be developed. There's places in High Aaliyah, there's places in Homestead in our own state here where we could welcome Apple, you know, and create jobs if they want to go to Puerto Rico, that's part of the United States. Also, So I think that there's a political vacuum like you were pointing out to earlier, and I think we need to fix it. What did China give them? China gave them twenty five years. I believe it was a twenty five year package, no taxes, that's why they left. And they gave them subsidies the facilities that they're using,...

...and of course they're getting cheap labor. So all of these advantages that were presented to Apple became an offer they couldn't refuse. Not to mention, we all know how difficult it is to do business in California, right, I mean the People's Republic of California, if you will, It's it's a it's pretty difficult and not business friendly environment where a lot of companies are actually leaving and now they're setting up shop in Texas. Some are coming to Florida and we're welcoming them with open arms because we need the business and we're welcoming them here. So what are some of the things that that you've seen at the at the strategy level that you can you think would help bring some of these companies back. Because you're a public affairs specialist, in legislative affairs specialists, and I thought it would be a good question to ask you. Yeah, no, absolutely, you're you're spot on dr motto. The fact that the matter is that we live in a global economy. No one can really run away from that, and private companies corporations will do what is in the best interest of those private companies regardless of what the political situation is most of the time. But now we see that Apple is leaving, leaving China and exploring India, or at least decreasing their operations in China and going to India and coming back here as well. We see that with the chip makers that they all left for manufacturing in Taiwan. So Taiwan is a very friendly country. I was there three times as a congressional staffer. They loved American representatives of Congress and staff. So the United States needs to have a vision and that is what we have failed to do at the highest levels. We seem to be swimming alone. We need to have a vision and stay. You know, innovation equals job creation and equals ponomic growth such as Apple, Microsoft, You have countless of American companies that all of the innovation is done here, But then we take the manufacturing to Taiwan for the chips and that is changing, as as we all know by opening a plant in Ohio and in other places in the Midwest. If we don't have a vision, then other countries are going to benefit and our own people are going to be hurt by that. And that is a very unfortunate situation, but something that is starting to change very rapidly. I believe that this pandemic again has opened a lot of people's eyes, and the people are demanding a radical change, more focused towards here in the United States. All great points, by the way, and and thank you for sharing that. Now. Our time flies when we're having fun, right and so, believe it or not, I mean it's it's been a very friendly in a in a cordial conversation. Before we wrap up our conversation for today, I wanted you to share with our listeners because I mean, you have three decades of experience under your belt. Give us three tips, three elements for arts, secret sauce. What sets you aside from others? What are your three tips that you would highly recommend for a young person growing wanting to follow in your footsteps? What are some of the three things that you would recommend they do. Number one, Dr Maritto. I would recommend that they do something that they like. They find something that is personally satisfying for them. Don't look at the economic benefits, but something that you enjoy. For example, I enjoy helping people and that's why I stayed with the Leana Well. She was a great lady and wonderful leader, which I learned a lot. And so number one, doing something that you...

...like. Number two, I would say, give it your total dedication research, try to go the extra mile so that you could stand out. The competition on Capitol Hill is fierce. We have staffers from Ivy League colleges and universities with Suma Kumula great point averages, and I mean it's just fear. So what you need to do to be able to stand out is go that extra mile. And number three, I would say to try to pursue it for the period of time that you can't to meet your goals. So always have goals in mind so that you could say, I really enjoy doing this, I'm spending the extra mile the extra time to do it successfully and do it well. And number three, try to complete your goals and meet your goals. That's what I would recommend you know folks that may be interested in going pursuing politics or really, you know, anything in the private if you're an attorney or if you're in the private sector anything. I think those are what I would recommend as a former as a former teacher, I taught. I taught for a couple of years before getting into politics. Yes, well, I think you've never taught. You never stopped teaching, because you've been teaching, giving us lessons from Congress on how business is done and how things should be done. So, um, it would be very interesting to have you write your memoirs one day. I'm sure that quite a few people will want to buy a copy and you have one standing in line right here, or at least an audible version. You have a lot of experience behind you, and you've met and worked with some of the most fascinating people during the last three decades. Are It's been a pleasure having you on Uncle Sam's Secret Sauce. Can't wait till we have you back on the show to talk about some of the products that you're launching. Because I know that there's many sides to artists o bion, the businessman, the entrepreneur, aside from the legislative affairs senior level specialists that you are until next time. Thank you for joining Uncle Sam's Secret Sauce. Thank you, Dr Barreto, and congratulate you for helping so many virgeoning a Latino businessmen. Because with your Secret Sauce and your consulting and your efforts to get a fair share of Latino businessmen into the federal system, you also have been a tremendous inspiration and a tremendous source of information and wealth creation in the Latino community. So I am so honored to have met you, and and now we are going to be pursuing many different business opportunities. So I don't plan to retire till I'm ninety or so, so's to keep on going. No, thank you, Dr. Thanks Doc. Based in Miami, Florida, Raphael Morrero in Company is a management consultancy founded in two thousand eight by Dr Rafael Marrero. The firm helps other veteran owned, minority women and small businesses break into the federal marketplace and do business with the world's richest and most powerful client, the US federal government. To learn more, visit Raphael Marrero dot com. You've been listening to Uncle Sam's Secret Sauce a Rafael Morrero and Company podcast. Keep connected with us by subscribing to the show in your favorite podcast player and giving us a rating that helps us to keep delivering the latest in business growth strategies and ultimately learn what Uncle Sam's Secret Ingredients s. Thanks for listening until next time, H.

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