Member companies of the Utah Manufacturers Association (UMA) generally enjoyed a banner year in 1988, a turnaround that UMA Chairman Abraham Markosian attributes in large measure to the resurgence of two of the state's largest manufacturers, Kennecott and Geneva Steel.

"There is example after example of the positive fallout from the resurgence of these two strong companies," Markosian told members gathered at Little America Hotel for the UMA's annual meeting.One example cited was the strong 11 percent growth in membership that the UMA enjoyed last year, welcome relief from a decade in which many local manufacturing companies struggled and others dropped off the roles completely.

Markosian praised UMA leadership for the strong rebound in '88, particularly UMA President Larry D. Bunkall and immediate past chairman Jack Bollow for their work with the Legislature and in bringing high-technology companies into the organization.

Commenting on the UMA's lobbying efforts, Markosian stressed that manufacturers aren't looking for special privilege. "We don't want to violate any environmental (protection) laws, but we don't want to be regulated to extinction either."

Markosian said the UMA had a 97 percent success rate on 50 business-related bills in the 1988 Legislature. He is hoping the group can make a similar impact during the current session such as the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, the Fairness and Accountability in Insurance Reform bill, efforts to limit product liability for manufacturers, and others.

Other than the current legislative session, Markosian said he will be directing an effort this year to provide the UMA with long-range planning and strategy to carry the group into the next century.

Hugh D. Aycock, president of Nucor Corp., the North Carolina-based steel company that operates Nucor Steel in Plymouth, Box Elder County, and Vulcraft in Brigham City. Utah employment by Nucor totals 700.

Often cited nationally as one of the best run and most profitable U.S. corporations in general and steel companies in particular, the company's secret is simple, Aycock told UMA members: Take care of your employees and your employees will take care of you.

In an industry that has been plagued by layoffs and plant closures during the '80s, Nucor has never closed a plant or laid off a single employee in 20 years. Productivity is high and employee relations are equally so.

Aycock said Nucor officers and management enjoy no special privileges: no private dining rooms, no company cars, no favored parking stalls, no first-class air travel. And when times are tough and pay cuts are needed, the largest cuts are reserved for those earning the highest salaries and proceed down from there. Hourly wage earners are affected least of all.

There is a lot of talk in manufacturing about putting the customer first, said Aycock, but he thinks whoever thought that one up got it wrong. "You can't put the customer first unless you put the employee first," said Aycock. And that's the way it's done at Nucor.

"Employees who feel good about their company can move mountains," he said. "Those who don't, can't even reach the base of the mountain."