Partnerships, Strong Corporate Cultures Will Be Key to the Next Manufacturing Boom

As manufacturing firms expand domestically, they also are venturing overseas to look for growth opportunities. This is especially true as the dollar powers up, considering the WSJ Dollar Index has hit its highest mark since September 2003. In fact, half the U.S. manufacturers surveyed in this year’s Bank of America Merrill Lynch CFO Outlook are most likely to grow internationally by setting up an in-market subsidiary.

BofA-1To achieve success in these foreign markets, establishing a global team is vital. However, many companies run into challenges collaborating efficiently when employees are divided by oceans and time zones.

To successfully implement international collaboration, U.S. manufacturers should keep these considerations in mind.

1. Conduct a local talent search. When working across continents, the importance of strong local partners cannot be underestimated. The most valuable partners on the ground are those that can provide local expertise—whether it’s dealing with the policies and regulations pertaining to foreign exchange, or something as simple (yet critically important) as understanding cultural nuances. Work with a local partner who can identify the right talent, especially when operating in a new region.

Another critical factor to consider is the placement of teams by function. For example, if a company’s production team moves overseas and the engineering team is still stateside, it can present a coordination challenge. Enabling collaboration between teams—via high-speed video conferencing, executive exchanges and project management solutions—will allow frequent communication.

BofA-22. Create a global company with one culture. As your company becomes more global, form a corporate culture that is not rooted solely in your headquarters’ country. One way of achieving this is by delegating key responsibilities to certain regions, rather than concentrating all decision making at the headquarters. For instance, while a company’s facility in Tokyo might focus on the production of one product, the Minneapolis facility could be responsible for another, with both facilities representing crucial parts that together contribute to a shared company culture.

Companies can also develop a holistic corporate culture and a more well-rounded organization by establishing an employee exchange program, allowing more team members to experience different cultures and responsibilities throughout the world. This not only helps employees have a greater understanding of what the company is trying to achieve as a whole, it also creates an environment for individuals to learn from their international counterparts and exchange highly needed skill sets.

With current market conditions presenting an increasing number of international opportunities for U.S. middle-market manufacturers, a company’s leadership team needs to focus on establishing opportunities and processes that connect teams with the right local partners when expanding overseas. By creating one corporate culture while leveraging the strengths each market has to offer, companies will mitigate potential obstacles and ultimately achieve the benefits of true global collaboration.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch CFO Outlook



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