A panel discussion about competing in a global marketplace was the focus of the Manufacturing Jewelers and Suppliers of America’s spring Network New York event, held May 9 at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
On the panel were John Peters of Andin International Inc., New York, Bruce Pucciarello of Novell Enterprises Inc., New York, Anastasia Xenias and Diana Brandon, both of the United States Department of Commerce, and Gena Alulis of Superfit Inc., King of Prussia, Pa. MJSA CEO Frank Dallahan was the moderator.
Peters opened the discussion, explaining how the major retailers—Andin’s primary customer base—are constantly barraged by price-cutting manufacturers from China and India. As an American firm, he says, Andin has to offer a differentiating factor, it can’t compete on price. That factor, he says, is its ability to offer a consistently high quality product, good service, and timely delivery. As Andin grows its exports, he’s also found that overseas buyers aren’t as cost-driven as American buyers, and returns aren’t a big discussion.
“I’m sure eventually [returns] will make it there—so we want to keep them and the Americans apart so they don’t get any ideas!” he joked.
Bruce Pucciarello discussed outsourcing. Novell is passionate about being an American firm, but its main competitor does a lot of outsourcing. Recently, Novell acquired another manufacturer Wright & Lato, which did a lot of outsourcing. Now that he owns it, he sees both advantages and disadvantages in outsourcing.
Gena Alulis said she was less concerned about price competition, as Superfit’s product, a hinged ring shank, is highly specialized—but as the firm increases exports she’s concerned about protecting its intellectual property.
Xenias and Brandon, both representatives of the U.S. Department of Commerce, discussed how the agency can help American companies looking to export. Between its extensive research reports on 150 countries around the world and its vast network of employees placed all around the world, the agency can help American firms with everything from learning the customs of a country to understanding how its products may need to be tailored to different markets to making contacts in the business community there.
Xenias also touched upon intellectual property laws around the world, which range from fairly stringent in the European Union, to hard to enforce in some developing countries. File for a patent or copyright in any country you do business, advised Xenias. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll prevent your product from being copied—or recover damages if it is—but without it, you’ll have no recourse at all.