One of the IndustryWeek articles that always grabs my attention is “Top 10 Most Corrupt Countries of 2021.” Obviously, there is an immediate incentive to check the list and see if you do business (or even can do business) in any of the countries listed.

Leaving the list aside, one trend for manufacturers that operate globally that always seems to be an issue is deciding how to sell products in other countries. Some manufacturers open sales offices; others pursue joint ventures. Some manufacturers have distributors, while others have authorized sales representatives.

There are key differences among all of these options, but many of our clients continue to express frustration with the “results” they are getting. Some manufacturers enter into financial agreements that never seem to work out. Or, alternatively, they negotiate exclusivity that isn’t very exclusive.

The bottom line is that as the agreements renew, it is important to assess whether changing to a different model makes sense, particularly in countries where there can be compliance challenges (such as bribery) that can impact a business in a significant way.

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Photo of Jeffrey White Jeffrey White

I am a partner at Robinson+Cole who handles corporate compliance and litigation matters for both domestic and international manufacturers and distributors that make and ship products around the world. My clients have ranged from publicly traded Fortune 500 companies to privately held and/or…

I am a partner at Robinson+Cole who handles corporate compliance and litigation matters for both domestic and international manufacturers and distributors that make and ship products around the world. My clients have ranged from publicly traded Fortune 500 companies to privately held and/or family owned manufacturers. For those looking for my detailed law firm bio, click here.

I am often asked why I have focused a large part of my law practice on counseling manufacturers and distributors. As with most things in life, the answer to that question is tied back to experiences I had well before I became a lawyer. My grandfather spent over 30 years working at a steel mill (Detroit Steel Company), including several years in its maintenance department. One of my grandfather’s prime job duties was to make sure that the equipment being used was safe. In his later years, he would apply those lessons learned in every project we did together as he passed on to me his great respect and pride for the manufacturing industry.

Because of these experiences, I not only feel comfortable advising executives in a boardroom, but also can easily transition to the factory floor. My experience has involved a range of industries, including aerospace and defense, chemicals, energy, pharmaceuticals and life sciences, nutritional and dietary supplements, and retail and consumer products. While I have extensive experience in litigation (including product liability and class actions), I am extremely proactive about trying to keep my clients out of the courtroom if at all possible. Specifically, I have counseled manufacturers and distributors on issues such as product labeling and warranties, product recalls, workplace safety/OSHA, anti-trust, and vendor relations, among other things. I always look for the business-friendly solution to a problem that may face a manufacturer or distributor and I hope this blog will help advance those efforts.