Gingrich signs ‘Strong America Now’ pledge at Hudson company

The phrase of the day was “waste elimination” at Newt Gingrich’s signing of a Strong America Now pledge at Hudson’s C&M Machine Products Inc. on Wednesday afternoon.

Gingrich, with canary-yellow-clad wife Callista Gingrich, visited with about 30 C&M employees to tout the pledge, which calls for the elimination of the national debt.

Rather than rattle off a series of talking points, Gingrich endorsed Strong America Now’s Lean Six Sigma system, which was described as a “powerful, flexible and proven cost- and waste-elimination method that has been used successfully in both private and public organizations.”

The U.S. Army, Naval Aviation and municipalities around the country already have adopted the system, said Strong America Now founder Mike George. Locally, C&M Machine Products uses the system as well.

“I know you all use Lean Six Sigma here, so you know this is not a gimmick,” Gingrich announced before signing Strong America Now’s pledge. “You know that, in fact, it leads to greater productivity, less waste, greater competitiveness.”

Gingrich, a Republican, is the first presidential hopeful to align with Strong America Now. By signing the bipartisan nonprofit’s pledge Wednesday, the 14,000 members who already have pledged allegiance to Support America Now agree to “only support presidential candidates who agree to use its proven solution to help eliminate the national debt.”

George, the group’s founder, was pleased with Gingrich’s signing and with the signing’s location.

“I love to see a Yankee machine shop making money and doing great,” George said. “There was a time when all the machine shops in America were doing great. And because these people are doing waste reduction, Lean Six Sigma, this operation can compete with anybody worldwide.”

In exchange for Gingrich’s pledge signature, C&M presented Gingrich with a product of their own efficient business: a “hard point” piece of metal that makes up the Kevlar nets covering U.S. Humvees in Afghanistan that absorb and deflect rocket-propelled grenade launchers. The nets have made Humvees 80 percent lighter and saved an estimated 84 lives, C&M chief executive officer Paul Villemaire said.

Gingrich said he was just as impressed with his hosts as they were with him.

“This was a chance to come and say to a bunch of workers, who are being both patriotic and profitable, ‘Job well done,’ and to say to Mike’s organization, Strong America Now, that we are prepared to make a major commitment. We are engaging the whole concept for Lean Six Sigma for the entire federal government. I thought this was a perfect place and exactly the right kind of company to make that case.”

C&M employees said they were taken with what Gingrich plans, despite his notorious personal life.

“Hey, everybody’s got skeletons in their closet,” said CEO Villemaire. “Everybody’s had a problem along the way. That doesn’t mean he can’t do the job. We’re in desperate need of a leader. Someone that can take this country and put it on the right track – economically.

“I’ve been in business for a long time, and the things that he’s hitting on are very, very interesting. I think he’s going to get a lot of business support with those ideas.”

Eugene Fantozzi, C&M vice president of operations, said he wasn’t convinced he’d vote for Gingrich, but he would support whoever could solve wasteful spending in Washington.

“I’m a Republican. I believe in the waste,” Fantozzi said. “Is there waste? Damn right there is. Without a doubt. I’d love to see something done about it. That’s what I see. A lot of these congressmen, it’s,‘ What’s in it for me?’ That’s my point. I think that’s a lot of people’s views.”

Maryalice Gill can be reached at 594-6490 or