December 2010 - In a typical year, roughly 50 percent of Red Bud Industries'business is international. Yet this year, between 70 percent and 80 percent took place outside the United States, says Dean Linders, vice president of sales and marketing for the Red Bud, Ill.-based manufacturer of coil processing equipment.
The increase in international business is related to the continued weakness in the U.S. economy, he says. Overall, the economy in the United States is "not coming back as strong or as quickly as we would like to see. Some of the other markets have come back a little stronger, a little bit quicker," says Linders. Mexico is among the foreign markets that are performing well for Red Bed, says Linders. "We have been working the Mexican market for probably at least 10 years," he says, equating increased business in the region to a "snowball" effect. "Just like any market, you install a machine, and people get to know your name. The more you install, the more they know your name. If you work the market properly and you take care of your customers, your name spreads," says Linders.
Other international regions Red Bud is experiencing healthy activity in include Russia, Germany, Israel, South Africa and Australia, he says.
Red Bud recently installed a precision multiblanking line at Steel Technologies de Mexico's Cuidad Juarez, Mexico, facility. It joins a high-speed slitting line Red Bud installed at the location in 2007.
The line is capable of processing mild steel up to 0.135 inches and stainless up to 0.105 inches. The Red Bud equipment gives Steel Technologiesthe capability to produce blanks with width and length tolerances of +/- 0.005 inches. The system is capable of processing coils up to 60,000 pounds at widths up to 72 inches and thicknesses up to 0.135 inches.
The Mexican facility is "going to use it for a lot of appliance-type work and some automotive. The main things they are looking for are very tight tolerances and very surface-critical product," says Linders. Steel Technologies has a similar Red Bud multiblanking line installed at its Murfreesboro, Tenn., facility, says Linders, and the two locations are producing similar products with their lines.
The success of the Mexican facility's slitting line and the Murfreesboro multiblanking line led Steel Technologies to choose Red Bud again for its latest multiblanking line, says Linders. The company was impressed not only with the equipment but also with Red Bud's customer service. "When there was an issue, we responded quickly. We didn't give up until we corrected it and it was completely fixed and they were completely satisfied," he says.
Whether conducting business in Mexico, Europe or Russia, each international market has unique challenges, says Linders. Shipping can be an issue because of different laws and regulations. When shipping to Mexico, the U.S. trucking companies Red Bud uses can bring items to the border but they can not take them across the border to its final destination. "Sometimes they either have to trade trailers or they have to unload the equipment and put it on to a different truck line," he says.
Each country also has unique processes and paperwork a company must complete. "You need to make sure that you have [both] your paperwork and your customer's done properly, or that can be a problem," says Linders. "That's all part of the learning process: how to do it and do it properly so things go as smoothly as possible," he says. MM</b