The changing face of industry in the
A quick look at investment in the
Production figures further underline the globalization taking place in the economy. According to the 1988 Worldwatch Report, foreign companies made 85 percent of all women’s shoes sold in the U.S., 70 percent of all calculators, 90 percent of all motorcycles, 98 percent of all cameras, 60 percent of all computers, and 70 percent of all rolling mills, casters and presses.
Our competition is no longer coming just from
TRADING TO WIN
Many claim the best way for
The key to winning, then, becomes the competitive advantage we create for ourselves.
The statistics clearly indicate that performance can be one of our strongest advantages. The 1988
The number of Americans who purchased a U.S.-made product of poor quality in the last year was up from 51 percent in 1985 to 61 percent in 1988. This is part of the reason that half of all purchases by
Let me use my business, the automotive industry, as an example. Figure I shows the market share losses by the Big Three from 1981 to 1987. Consumers are casting their votes with their dollars, spending their hard-earned money on foreign products. This trend is one my company is watching closely since it will have a major impact on our ability to supply parts to the automotive manufacturing market. The companies gaining market share today are the ones I want to be doing business with tomorrow.
For instance, in 1988, 68 percent of the automobiles purchased in the
Notice that three of the projected top five automakers of the future are Japanese. Not only are they foreign companies, but each already has at least one plant in the
FORGING NEW RELATIONSHIPS
Beyond identifying the market and properly positioning our companies,
The globalization of the automotive industry did not happen overnight. It started with the Japanese capturing a major share of the
In the near future the Japanese will be in the industrial, appliance, marine and consumer businesses. They will begin entering the
We can take a page or two from the books of our foreign competitors to see how that can be done. Foreign companies that have set up shop in the
At the Plumley Companies, we have already put some of these principles to work. We made the mental and financial commitment to be “best in class” in everything we do. We have invested in state-of-the-art machinery, built a new R&D center, increased staff, and set high-quality customer satisfaction goals and standards for our suppliers to make sure their quality meets the demands of our customers.
The tack is to face the competition head on. U.S. CEOs must change their attitudes and take the initiative to produce superior products unmatched anywhere in the world. Essentially, we must take the pioneering spirit that has always been a part of the American way and transfer it to a world outlook. This is the same spirit that caused our forefathers to come to a new world. It is the same spirit that caused us to revolt against the British and then start looking across the country to the West for new opportunities. It is the same spirit that allowed us to develop this nation and become a world leader in the economic, political and military arenas.
Today, we have run out of western frontier. Our forefathers scratched the land, fought the Indians, and did whatever they had to do to survive with the American dream of a better tomorrow. Our new frontier now lies in the ability to make the best of our resources, both human and natural, so our companies can survive a global economic battle.
There is no longer any virgin western territory. East now meets West. It is time for us to regain the pioneer spirit in our work, make a stand, and fight every day to maintain and improve our companies to provide for a better tomorrow for our country and for our families.
Michael A. Plumley is chairman and chief executive of Plumley Companies, a Paris, Tenn.-based manufacturer of custom rubber components for the automotive industry. An expert on international sales efforts to Japanese automotive companies, he serves on the board of the Motor Equipment Manufacturers Association.