Twenty-eight years ago, Teresa Beach-Shelow and her husband, Thom, started Superior Joining Technologies, Inc. (SJTI), in their garage. They had a vision of a family-run business where their employees were like family, helping make important decisions and one day taking over the company.
Now, with the State of Illinois threatening yet another tax increase this November with the progressive tax on top of the devastating effects of COVID-19, that dream is in serious jeopardy.
“I’m just heartbroken,” Beach-Shelow said. “We’ve always wanted to pass our business on to the local community. We love that we can support our local school system, community college, and work force.”
This isn’t the first time the State of Illinois has made things more difficult for the Shelows. Five years ago, when they began considering where SJTI would expand for the fourth time, they had to decide whether to stay in Illinois or cross nearby state lines into Indiana or Wisconsin.
They were planning to increase their square footage by at least five times – a move that would pave the way for more employees, more machinery, more work and more possibilities for the future. In an attempt to attract SJTI ’s business, representatives from the state of Indiana took them to dinner and offered attractive financial incentives, as did the state of Wisconsin. Illinois did nothing.
Yet the Shelows decided to stay in their home state. They determined the stay was worth the gamble, despite financial enticements neighboring states offered.
“We decided to stay in Illinois. Our employees live here. The vendors we work with are here,” she said. “We raised our family in Illinois and our grandchildren are here.”
Fast forward to 2020, and now the Shelows regret their decision. After years of Springfield politicians seemingly doing everything possible to destroy their business, COVID-19 hit.
“80 percent of our customers are in the aerospace industry,” she said. “With the aerospace industry almost completely shut down because of the COVID situation, we’re struggling to keep our doors open.”
Beach-Shelow is now having to consider options she never imagined she’d be thinking about a year ago. While they’re doing everything they can to pursue other possible new customers, they’re having to consider potential employee layoffs and other difficult budget cuts.
“Our employees—they’re our family. How do you tell a family member you can’t pay them anymore? How are they going to put food on their table, pay for their kids’ education?” Beach-Shelow said. “We’re working day and night to bring in more business so this doesn’t happen. And we’re hoping people begin to fly again, knowing the airlines are trying to keep people safe just like grocery stores. Hopefully, it will all loosen up.”
She’s trying hard to be optimistic about the company’s future, but she’s shocked and discouraged by what she sees as her own state government’s effort to destroy crucial revenue-producing small- and mid-sized businesses.
“I can’t understand how our governor would spend a large sum of his own money to promote the progressive tax,” Beach-Shelow said. “Why are they so against business and employers in Illinois?”
Raising taxes on small businesses like SJTI will raise the costs of the parts they make at a time when they’re struggling to stay in business. “It will make us less competitive – companies that service major airline companies are always trying to take customers from us,” Beach-Shelow said.
The proposed tax hike will raise the cost of each part they make – and they don’t have the option to simply pass that cost on to their customers. “We negotiate ten-year programs with the aerospace industry, so we can’t change our prices. We will be forced to cut costs elsewhere, which means losing jobs, cutting hours, reducing benefits—all things that hurt our employees at a time when they can’t afford it.”
Superior Joining Technologies, Inc. also shares work with local vendors. Losing those jobs, as well as SJTI positions, would negatively affect the region’s unemployment figures – when they’re already at record highs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The effort to raise income taxes on people that own small businesses in Illinois makes me feel angry. We’ve worked hard for nearly 30 years to grow a healthy business in Illinois. Besides state income taxes, we pay high property taxes, workers comp fees, and more,” she said. “When will Springfield have enough of our hard-earned money?”
Illinois voters have a chance to stand up and say no to Springfield’s tax addiction this November. Defeating the progressive tax would help the Shelows and Superior Joining Technologies, Inc. recover from the pandemic, support their employees, and continue to invest in their Rock Valley community.
Everyday Illinoisans are sharing their story and explaining what the real-life consequences would be in their personal and professional lives if the progressive tax is passed this November.
We can all relate to these stories from Illinoisans who are frightened that their lives, businesses, and state will be impacted by another tax hike from our Springfield politicians. We encourage you to share your story here on why you will be voting no on the progressive tax!