Corning's Weeks sits with Trump at CEO gathering
Thursday, January 26, 2017
There are some similarities between Corning Inc. Chairman Wendell Weeks and President Donald Trump.
They both have blond hair, they are both tall, and they are both wealthy.
Both have had lengthy business careers — Trump with his family real estate business, and Weeks with Corning Inc., where he has worked since 1983.
Politically, however, they have very little in common.
Weeks, the chairman and chief executive officer of Corning Inc., made five federal political contributions in 2016 totaling $10,800. Two of them — for $2,700 each — went to the re-election campaign of Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. The other three — one for $2,700 and two for $1,350 each — went to Hillary for America to support the unsuccessful presidential candidacy of Democrat Hillary Clinton.
So how did Weeks end up sitting at Trump’s elbow Monday for a meeting of a dozen corporate chief executive officers at the White House?
Apparently because Trump doesn’t care about the political leanings of business tycoons when it comes to picking their brains about ways to keep and grow jobs in the U.S.
Weeks sat between Trump and Elon Musk, of SpaceX and Tesla fame, at the White House breakfast session that ran an hour later than planned. Also in the group were CEOs of companies such as Ford, Dell Computer and Johnson & Johnson.
Trump lobbied the executives to keep jobs in the U.S. and warned them he would make it harder to sell their products in the U.S. if they don’t.
Corning Inc. has manufacturing all over the world, including in China, a country Trump has condemned for stealing American jobs.
In its last major decision on siting operations, however, Corning chose to build its new optical communications headquarters in North Carolina.
Corning has expanded, however, in places like Taiwan, Korea, and India to serve the markets in those locations. The Fortune 500 company also has operations in Mexico, Brazil and Japan as well as in Europe and Africa.
Trump said he will hold quarterly meetings with CEOs to get input on ways to boost employment in the U.S.
Corning Inc. has about 35,000 employees worldwide, 13,000 in the U.S., and several thousand in the Twin Tiers.
Even though his presidential candidate didn’t make it to the White House, Weeks got there three days after the inauguration.