Obama visits Prince George's window manufacturer Thompson Creek

Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Liz Peek, a columnist at The Fiscal Times, and Joseph McAlinden, fund manager at Catalpa Capital LLC, talk about President Barack Obama's appointment of William Daley as his new chief of staff and the possible appointment of Gene Sperling as head of the National Economic Council. Peek and McAlinden also discuss the U.S. economy, and the outlook for financial shares and the U.S. dollar. They talk with Pimm Fox on Bloomberg Television's "Taking Stock." (Source: Bloomberg)
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 7, 2011; 10:16 PM

The recession has been good to Rick Wuest.

During the past two years, Wuest's company, Thompson Creek, a window manufacturer in Landover, has grown from 168 employees to 289. Sales are booming. And last week, he leased a new 46,000-square-foot headquarters.

Wuest credits an emphasis on customer service and the firm's efficient production model - as well as President Obama's stimulus plan, which had allowed homeowners to write off as much as $1,500 on their income taxes by purchasing energy-efficient windows.

Thompson Creek has offered the discount to more than 6,000 customers, Wuest said.

"Anytime you can offer a product to a homeowner and Uncle Sam will pick up 30 percent of the bill, that helps," Wuest said. "I can't deny that."

On Friday, Obama visited the Thompson Creek production plant, a stone's throw from the FedEx Field in Prince George's County. While there, the president announced new members of his economic team, appointing Treasury aide Gene Sperling to head the National Economic Council.

Obama hailed new economic data that showed the nation added 103,000 jobs in December and the unemployment rate fell from 9.8 percent to 9.4. Thompson Creek, Obama said, was a success story that he hopes is replicated across the country.

"Rick was telling me that when that tax credit got into place, the marketing arm of Thompson Creek got busy," Obama told an audience filled with dozens of Thompson Creek managers. "And that's right - that's exactly what we intended."

Obama's appearance was a bit of bright news for Prince George's, which has some of the highest levels of housing foreclosures in the Washington region.

New County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D), who attended the event, is facing a$77 million budget gap. Baker has said the county will close it by trimming spending instead of dipping into reserves.

For Wuest, the day marked a high point for his family-owned business, which was created by his parents in 1980 in Annapolis. As a youth, Wuest lived above the window plant, a point Obama picked up on in his speech.

"I'll bet sometimes Rick still feels like he's living at the plant," Obama said. "That's what happens when you're in charge."

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