Export or Become Extinct
In last-month’s issue of MetalForming, we interviewed PMA Chairman for 2008 Ralph Hardt, who spoke at length about the importance of metalformers thinking and acting globally. The first sentence of that article, and in fact the very first sentence Hardt spoke when I turned on my tape recorder a couple of months ago, bears repeating. He said:
“If you want your business to mirror the market, then you have to participate globally.”
This means working your tail off to expand your customer base beyond the borders of the United States, and even beyond those of North America. Particularly today, when the devalued dollar escalates the purchasing power of foreign customers, it’s simply not acceptable to blame sliding sales on issues related to competitiveness within the U.S. market. U.S. manufacturers are, in many cases, today’s worldwide low-cost producers. Go out and grab a piece of the global pie.
Some companies in our industry do a great job of global marketing and selling, and they have recently received recognition. In the News Update section of this issue (page 8), we report that welding-equipment supplier Lincoln Electric Holdings, Cleveland, OH, recently earned the U.S. government’s Export Achievement Award, one of eight companies receiving the honor in 2007. These awards come from the president himself, recognizing outstanding export success. Winners not only help themselves, but they help the United States.
The Export Achievement Awards (E Awards), which date to World War II, encourage U.S. companies to broaden their horizons beyond the domestic market and to look for international customers. They were established to urge U.S. firms to export not only as a way to boost profits, but to fulfill a patriotic duty. Back in the days of WWII, the president awarded E Pennants to manufacturing plants supporting the war effort, in recognition of production excellence. The famous pennant with a large E emblazoned on it served as a badge of patriotism. The E symbol was revived in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy (at the bequest of Secretary of Commerce Luther H. Hodges) to emphasize the importance of expanding export trade.
E Award winners, as stated in the award application, have experienced a substantial increase in their export volume over a period of 4 years, and those exports must also comprise a significant portion of the company’s total product sales. Winners also have demonstrated breakthroughs in particularly competitive markets; have introduced a new product into U.S. export trade; or have opened a new market.
Since 1961, nearly 2000 companies and organizations have received E Awards. I encourage all metalformers to seek to dramatically increase their export sales, and to then apply for an E Award. Applications can be found at the website of the International Trade Administration (www.trade.gov); or, I’d be happy to send you a copy of the application, either in the mail or via e-mail (in .pdf format). Just send me an e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.Any company that feels it has made a significant contribution to U.S. export expansion efforts and can meet the criteria is eligible to apply for an E Award from the president. This includes U.S. subsidiaries of foreign-owned or controlled corporations.
In a 1989 article explaining the importance of the E Awards, Dan Sullivan, then the chairman of the President’s E Award Committee, said:
“It is just common sense to honor those U.S. companies that dig in and do the hard work of building up export business. The awards send out the message to every American firm—large, medium and small—that exports represent a sales frontier without limit.”
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