On Monday, I wrote about a manufacturing company that was successful selling products in India. Today, it’s China’s turn.
In the late 1980s, how to sell products in China was a question of great interest to Bruce Boxterman, president of Richards Industries, an Ohio-based manufacturer of industrial valves. Twenty or so years later, according to a recent Washington Post article, Richards’ sales to China make up a third of its total revenue. Boxterman exemplifies a collection of U.S. companies that are benefiting from the explosion in Chinese manufacturing – by selling critical items to China.
In China, “Made in America” apparently does stand for quality. A Richards executive was recently quoted in the Washington Post saying that Chinese companies don’t trust their own products. There may be some truth to this opinion. But true or not, U.S. companies must be doing something right. U.S. exports to China totaled $65.2 billion last year. That figure is up 18 percent from the previous year, and 400 percent since 2000.
A lot of valves will fit into these numbers. And an abundance of other products as well.
I called Erin Ennis, Vice President of the US-China Business Council (USCBA), an alliance of several hundred companies that was founded in 1973 to help probe the mysteries of how to do business in China, to get a sense of what sells in China.
“Higher-end products,” was her response. Examples ranged from coal mining safety equipment to vehicle testing equipment. “Speaking more generally, she cited “products R&D engineers need to do their work.”
The point here is that, if you’ve got a quality product that serves virtually any segment of the manufacturing sector, China may be a potential market.
And while you’re thinking about expanding sales overseas, don’t overlook Europe. The dollar has fallen dramatically vs. the Euro . As I type these words, the Euro is trading $1.5657, an all-time high. In case you don’t remember, back in 2002 a Euro only cost $0.87. In concrete terms, this weakening of the dollar’s against the Euro means a machine that cost a European customer € 10,000 in 2002 now costs about € 5,500.
Bottom line: If you sell to large U.S. OEMs, and particularly the Detroit 3, the picture can look grim indeed. But when you expand your marketing horizons and think globally, there are huge opportunities.
Footnote: If you’re interested in selling to China in particular, you might want to consider joining the USCBA. Membership fees are on a sliding scale, and begin at only $2,500.