What I've Learned

Selim Noujaim

Executive Vice President, Noujaim Tool Co., Inc.

Waterbury, Connecticut

Connecticut State Representative

61 years old

I got into politics by coincidence. I had no intention of running, but the Republican leadership asked me to do so. I won my first election and have been in office since 2002.

I never take my constituents for granted. It's my job to help those people who can't always help themselves-the elderly, the poor, veterans. I want to be the best representative I can be.

My district is largely conservative, morally religious, and pro-business.

I probably work more than most representatives on state business.

Running is the only thing I do for myself. Five miles each day, and I feel good all day long.

Ours is a family business, started in my mother-in-law's garage with one machine in 1985. My brother Joseph is the expert toolmaker. I handle sales, marketing, and finance. Today we have 27 toolmakers.

I was born and raised in Lebanon, and was 22 years old when I came to the U.S. I met my wife at the baggage claim in Beirut International Airport when she was visiting the country. We stayed in touch, and have now been married 39 years.

Service is in your blood. When I started in college, I worked many jobs. First, I was a janitor at Post Junior College in the student center. I was then promoted to clean the administrative building. I also pumped gas at Sears, and was a janitor at a museum. These first years were difficult, but if I did not do what I did then, I certainly would not have achieved my goals of being educated.

After graduating I worked as an expediter for Timex. My boss was a member of APICS and was contested for the election for president of the local chapter. He got me involved, probably to help with his election, but I soon became secretary and eventually international president of the organization. I travelled the world with APICS, taught classes, and became keynote speaker at many conferences. It was unbelievable.

Be true to yourself and your god, and everything else will fall in place.

I learned at an early age-from a former teacher, Mr. Seligman-to see the goodness in people, to expect them to act honorably rather than dishonorably. Even though today there is less goodness overall in the world, with people keeping to themselves and thinking more selfishly, I still try to see the goodness in everyone.

We are losing in manufacturing, rather than gaining. The cost of doing business in Connecticut for manufacturers is very high. The skilled workforce is disappearing.

And companies are not investing in new technology or educating their people.

Some companies, though are succeeding. They know their niche, stay with their expertise, and recognize their limitations.

We train the next generation of technical specialists for our company by working with the students at Kaynor Vocational Technical School through apprentice programs. We are actively investing in the future of manufacturing and to ensure the continued prosperity of our company.

Even the most experienced manufacturers need to continue to learn the newest technology. Things change too quickly for you to sit back and think you know everything. I'm always reading about new trends, software, and technologies. If you don't invest in yourself, no one will do it for you.

I believe in mentoring the younger generation, as well as supporting the senior citizens for all their hard work over the years. This is what makes a good community. Only in the U.S. are the elderly treated so poorly. People here are too afraid to get involved and to help. They worry about lawsuits. But in the long run, I believe that the good will overpower the bad.

I love being a manufacturer-working, serving, and producing locally. My family is all nearby, and they are most important to me.

The next generation has more than we ever had. Enjoy and use it, but don't abuse it.