Tackling Today’s Trade Environment
Vistage members understand what it takes to find opportunity amid chaos, and the ever-shifting tide of U.S. trade relations with the rest of the world is no exception. We spoke with two members — one in Mexico, one in Canada — who have found creative solutions and growth as they deal with constant trade challenges.
Q. In what ways have the recent changes in U.S. trade policy affected your business?
Bigelow: We’re not particularly focused on our sales in the U.S. because of the lack of reliability. Say we’re working on something and we have a big deal. By the time the deal closes, the cost structure of the deal could totally change.
Diaz: We have mainly been affected by the trade war between the U.S. and China, which has led to the oversupply of plastic resin in the market, making for lower domestic prices and fierce competition.
Q. How did you overcome those challenges?
Bigelow: What we’ve done is reinforced our efforts in our domestic market. We’re here to help Canadian businesses grow. We’ve increased our prices in tune with rising steel prices, but we have not done predatory pricing. With American companies more focused on the U.S. economy, there are opportunities for us to win business on a fair price and service level to support the Canadian market.
Diaz: With stiffer competition, we need to pay attention to new markets and opportunities in order to grow. We also seek to outpace the competition by identifying opportunities to refine or reinvent systems and methodologies that may no longer be as effective. I believe that optimism, creativity and energy have to remain in our day-to-day lives, and that abrupt changes always create opportunities to grow and diversify.
Q. How have those solutions helped your company withstand these recent trade irregularities?
Bigelow: With trade barriers and tariffs, there is the opportunity to increase margins and net income in the short term. But we’re a living, breathing case study. We didn’t do that, and we’re getting even higher growth because the customer knows we’re going to give them a fair price. So the trust — the relationship stickiness of the customer — increases exponentially.
Diaz: I believe that challenges, such as oversupply and unfair competition, will always exist in business. Our solution is to offer clients bespoke products and excellent customer experience to keep them loyal and make it harder for the competition to win their business. Many times, deals fall apart over a fraction of a cent, and we are able to avoid these situations by being better every day.