Over the past few months I have had the pleasure to participate in several significant manufacturing events, including events at The White House, the Department of Commerce, and most recently, at the first International Space Trade Summit.  At these events, I had a chance to speak with manufacturers across the globe, including several companies that wanted to explore either launching (no pun intended!) or growing in the United States.

In my experience, entry into the U.S. by a foreign manufacturer is very doable despite what others might say.   I try to simplify entry into four key concepts or four “Yours.”

  1. Your Commitment:  It is important to be here.  Potential customers, suppliers, and employees all pay attention to whether the business executives from abroad spend time in the United States.
  2. Your Entry Point (“Buzz”):  In my experience, the companies that can create a buzz around their entry are more likely to succeed.  This is done by celebrating the opening of the factory (with key local officials), marking significant anniversaries, and interacting with government officials early in the process.
  3. Your People:  It is important to have “boots on the ground.”  A lot of companies will hire a U.S. based sales representative as a first step, but sometimes that is fraught with peril.  The manufacturers that I have seen succeed place an emphasis on getting their U.S. based employees to buy into their culture and integrate them as quickly as possible.  In addition, location in the U.S. is key – don’t try to cover too much, too early.
  4. Your Structure:  My discussion of corporate structure is intentionally last.  Most legal and tax advisors will start here.  They will talk about corporate structure and formation before anything else.  Yes, tax implications often drive a lot of decisions for a foreign company.  But, corporate structure considerations should not drive the overall business strategy.