As a distributor, what trends do you notice from your customers?
The composites industry, just like other industrial segments in our economy, has been through a very difficult time over the past couple of years. We have all learned from the experience and our customers are working to be more efficient and productive in the way they manufacture products and serve their customers. By focusing on manufacturing processes and looking for ways to reduce final costs rather than just the cost of materials, manufacturers are turning the corner and seeing real benefits for their efforts. Customers are asking us for broader solutions to their manufacturing and supply issues that will provide long-term advantages as they operate in context of the post-recession environment.
What are identifying marks to a prosperous company?
Of course, having an acceptable level of profitability is a mark of a prosperous company. In order to achieve long-term success, I believe companies must create a positive environment for their employees where they are treated fairly and with respect. Employees must be able to actively contribute to the success of the company and always feel like they are working in a safe environment. Prosperous companies also have a strong customer orientation because they realize that without the customer, there is no business.
Is there an area of the world where composites are growing faster than others?
China and India are growing rapidly as well as some South American countries. Eastern Europe is also recognized as a faster growing economy. Wherever economies are growing, composites are growing in lock step because these countries realize that composites can produce long-lasting infrastructure and other benefits. Government policies and low labor costs contribute to growth in these markets and, although many composites raw material and manufacturing facilities were originally established for export, much of the output is being consumed internally as demand within these countries increases.
What does it take to successfully break into new industry sectors?
Just like any effort that’s worthwhile, it takes a lot of preparation, legwork and getting to know people in the industry. One has to diligently search for the opportunities and be in a position to capitalize on them. We have entered into several new markets and it has taken a focused effort, resources and a sustained commitment to be successful. Trade shows and other industry events present a great venue to understand a market and to make contacts. The Internet provides bountiful information and there are a variety of consultants and expert sources also available to provide information and perspective. The good news – there are unlimited opportunities in composites!