Trip to Evansville Put Exports into Perspective
Ding Lijie '11 ("Jackson") - After three hours of an exhausting drive, my associate Sean Huston and I were finally in Evansville to visit Escalade Sports, a company manufacturing and selling sports equipment.
My day started with an interview with Marla Fredrich, the Exports Sales Manager of Escalade. We talked at a Ping-Pong table (which is one of Escalade’s best selling products) about the history and current overview of Escalade’s export business.
Even though with a history of more than 80 years, Escalade did not start exporting until the last 20 years with their first deal being selling archery to Canada. The business enjoyed a huge increase ever since. As a company of less than 500 staff, Escalade now sells its products to over 75 countries! (Imagine that!) Canada, unsurprisingly, is their largest market followed by Mexico and Central Europe.
Ms. Fredrich showed a lot of passion about her job. She told me about all kinds of interesting stories and challenges during the exporting process: how they try to make their playground facilities to meet different safety standards, how their products once got stuck in at the Russian custom, how they helped a businessman in Azerbaijan grow his business.
Fredrich enjoyed working with people from different cultures and backgrounds and developing personal relationships with them. She said, in some parts of the world (actually almost everywhere outside U.S.), you cannot just sit down to talk about the price and quantity, you need to be partener’s friend to do business with him/her. What is more, Fredrich believed doing exports help the company think more open-mindedly about the global market. Even though it is now relatively costly and inefficient compared with domestic market, exporting is definitely worth the time and energy, considering the potential future market and the contribution of exports to the company in cultural aspects.
After meeting with Fredrich, I went around their manufacturing base and took some shots. Unfortunately, most of their manufacturing moved to Mexico, and to make things worse, the factory takes Fridays off. Though not able to talk to some workers there, I was still looked around the empty factory and took some amazing pictures.
Our trip ends with a late lunch at Cheeseburgers in Paradise and another three-hour drive back to Crawfordsville. I had a lot of beneficial information about my project on Indiana Exports and cannot wait to visit more places.