Friday, December 12, 2008

There’s Room to Grow in the Global Economy

Wisconsin manufacturers may be lagging the world’s best companies in doing the things they need to do to thrive in the 21st century.

But therein lies opportunity.

Take, for example, expanding overseas operations. That’s one area for improvement cited in the “Next Generation Manufacturing Study,” an extensive new survey released by the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

The study shows, as highlighted by The Business Journal of Milwaukee, that many Wiscoinsin companies simply aren’t yet doing much international business. Just 7 percent of the 500-plus firms in the survey reported non-U.S. sales growth of 51 percent or higher. Nearly two-thirds of (63 percent) said that they have no sales or distribution facilities beyond the United States.

So there’s plenty of room to grow globally for Wisconsin manufacturers. “Global engagement” is one of the six key tenets of so-called Next Generation Manufacturing, a set of forward-looking strategies to drive growth and profitability in the 21st century (per the WMEP).

Of course, international business is rife with challenges. Whether from an operations or a marketing communications perspective, success overseas takes a strong commitment to consistency, balanced with flexibility for local customization. You’ve got to make the effort to understand and respond to what customers really want in each market.

That’s a tall task to undertake on a limited budget, but a few good strategic alliances can help. For example, our agency helps ensure consistent, relevant messaging around the world for global clients through IPREX, one of the world’s largest networks of independent public relations agencies. Read more about our relationship with IPREX.

In the meantime, read the full WMEP report for many more fascinating insights on Wisconsin manufacturing. An executive summary and the full report are available for download at WMEP’s website.