As engineers, marketing personnel

As engineers, marketing personnel

The biggest concern involves supply-chain disruptions. That is certainly true for molds, for which OEM engineers spend an inordinate amount of time in China, watching over mold builds to ensure the project’s success. Some have been caught just weeks from mold tryout, and are scrambling to complete the project long distance.

An Asia-Pacific marketing and product development representative of Steelcase says, “Travel is restricted to outside of Asia. Consequently, we are unable to progress with ongoing projects. As engineers, marketing personnel, [and] sales staff from the U.S., Europe, and within Asia, we are restricted from visiting that part of the world.

“Furthermore,” he adds, “due to the importance of face-to-face meetings, particularly when conducting negotiations and finalizing both verbal and written contacts in Asia, the virus has clearly slowed the business cycle.”How has SARS affected your business?

IMM asked domestic custom molders if SARS had any immediate impact on their businesses or on their future plans. Here’s an edited sampling of what some of you had to say: Joe Pack, VP sales and marketing at Alltrista, Unimark Plastics Co. (Greer, SC): â€œThe only short-term effect it has had is our willingness or ability to have employees travel to certain areas of the world. We had a mold runoff in Asia and did not send anyone, but elected to have the mold sent to us after runoff. We verified it in one of our U.S. facilities. There were no issues, but normally we would have had a person at the runoff. We have not considered any long-lasting change in our business operations due to this current situation, but as the head of sales and marketing I will say that we do use this as a reason for our customers not to go overseas—i.e., to China. In some of our negotiations this has been a subject.” John Onzik, president of Dickten & Masch Mfg. (Nashotah, WI): â€œWe will not be sending personnel to China until SARS is history. Otherwise we are still playing on the same uneven field.” P.C. “Hoop” Roche, chairman and CEO of Erie Plastics (Corry, PA): â€œSARS has had no impact on us, as we do no molding [in], selling to, nor purchasing from China . . . thanks be to God!” A custom molder who requested anonymity: “Has SARS affected our business? Not really. But this should be a wake-up call for America. We have become very dependent on foreign products, forsaking our own workers and economic infrastructure. This is really starting to show as you can see at least 46 states are in financial turmoil and we have our largest national debt ever. The Chinese government was trying to hide how bad things really were over there to lessen the negative economic impact. Greed is the real disease plaguing America.”

Eyewitness News Neal P. Elli, president of Empire Precision Plastics Inc. (Rochester, NY), who says he was in China during the week of March 10: “I visited almost all the major cities that are currently ravaged by this problem, but heard virtually nothing about it until I was on my way home. Only now are we learning of the devastation and social unrest that it is causing.

“SARS is not affecting our current business practices. We ship very few parts to China and have no direct manufacturing facilities over there. Our company is ready, willing, and able to work with our subsuppliers in Asia to meet our customers’ demands. We are also looking to non-Asian suppliers to have backup capacity in some areas such as tooling.

“In the marketplace, OEMs and large suppliers are sending work overseas without giving domestic suppliers an opportunity to look at the work. SARS is a wildcard that is making some companies pause and think before that button is pushed.” Brad Hilton, plant manager of Emrick Plastics (Windsor, ON): â€œSARS has not affected our day-to-day business, even though we are within relatively close proximity to Toronto—a 3-hour drive. We currently do not do any business with any Asian countries. The only impact locally regarding SARS has been hospital quarantines. That’s about it. Things are starting to quell [sic] here in Ontario.” Jason Stull, marketing services manager at Stull Technologies (Somerset, NJ): â€œStull has not been greatly affected by the SARS virus, largely because we do not do much business with China or Asian countries. However, we have cut down on our travel to some parts of North America, mainly around the vicinity of Toronto and other parts of Canada for precautionary reasons. In addition, we are taking a closer look when scheduling our travel arrangements to make sure that the destinations are safe to visit.

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