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  January 8th, 2013 | Written by

Global Traders January-February ’13

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A Race Against Time

For This All-Weather Track Exporter, Quality Means Shipping Quickly

Beynon Sports, Inc. president and CEO John Beynon has overseen the installation of all-weather tracks from Eugene, Oregon’s famous Hayward Field to Kragero, Norway, and as far away as Perek, Malaysia. Financial uncertainty in some countries, Beynon notes, hasn’t stalled his business overseas in ways you might expect. “You don’t have to look any farther than Asia and the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) to see that there are still areas experiencing growth; there is a growing middle class in all those countries which is helping to drive the demand.”

For Beynon, success stems from a tried-and-true exporting strategy, albeit not one typically associated with synthetic polymers. “Polyurethane is a product that works best fresh,” says marketing director Shawn Taylor. “When working in the States, we make it per order and get it there really quickly. We still make it per order for overseas orders, but it takes a little bit longer to get from point A to B.” Taylor says making the polyurethane to order saves time, adding to a competitive edge fostered by great transportation partners and strong forecasting and planning techniques.

Beynon manufactures exclusively out of Hunt Valley, Maryland, so distributing time-sensitive material internationally remains a challenge. However, made-to-order polyurethane adds to Beynon’s industry-leading reputation, as has the standard the company demands of their track materials. Compared to competitors, Beynon uses a much lower percentage of Styrene-Butadiene Rubber (SBR), the inexpensive filler for the more costly polyurethane, and higher quality materials to extend the lifespan of the track.

“With Beynon everything is sole sourced which means it is fresh,” says Taylor. “Other companies that don’t sole source might be using materials that have been sitting in a warehouse for an extended period of time—you don’t really know how long it’s been sitting in those barrels.”

As of 2012, nearly 200 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tracks have been completed by Beynon, solidifying its market share within the U.S. at 50 percent. In 2008, Beynon was acquired by France’s Tarkett Sports, giving the company strong financial backing along with a partner that has played an important role facilitating international sales. Beynon has completed 18 Class II International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Certified Surfaces abroad and recently broke ground in the Bahamas on its newest installation.

Off The Vine

Oregon Winemakers Upping Exports

Wine“There is a lot of wine in the world,” says Michael Donovan, chairman of the Oregon Wine Board and director of national sales for RoxyAnn Winery of Medford. “We always need to stake out a niche in terms of who we are and why we stand out in that great, global wine market. I think Oregon is uniquely poised to do that.”

What makes Oregon wine stand out, according to Donovan, is the Beaver State itself. Oregon’s reputation as producers of quality agricultural products has been a strategic selling point that has propelled the state’s wine exports in East Asian countries such as Japan and mainland China, up 8 percent from 2010 to 2011, according to a recent census report. Total Oregon wine sales were up 9 percent, exceeding the national rise of 2 percent.

“In markets such as China, there’s a real consumer concern about food safety,” says Donovan. “Oregon always stands up really well against that kind of scrutiny due to the kind of farming practices we employ here.” Donovan notes that the artisan winemaking roots of Oregon have played an important role in distinguishing both the perception and quality of Oregon’s exports. With California’s formidable wine industry competing just to the south, it’s a simple case of playing to one’s strengths.

“We don’t try to produce in mass quantities low-priced, high-volume wine. We’ve always tended to focus on quality and we’ll continue to do that,” says Donovan, adding, “we’re not saying what California is doing is wrong. It’s just not us.”

Oregon’s wine industry began in the 1970s with Hillcrest Winery in Umpqua Valley, though the state’s most prodigious region has been based in the state’s northern Willamette Valley. Winemakers flocked to Oregon then, as they do now, for the potential to make quality wines in relatively untouched and pristine farmlands. Currently, the Rogue Valley and especially Colombia Gorge have seen an increase in production.

“It’s still a young industry in comparison to Europe or California,” says Donovan. “We’re really coming out.”

Apple Plants U.S. Seed

Tim Cook Announces That Mac Pro Manufacturing Will Return To The U.S.

“We’ve been working for years on doing more and more in the United States,” Apple CEO Tim Cook told Brian Williams on NBC’s Rock Center in December. The interview had been hyped as Cook’s debut performance—his first television appearance since taking over for Steve Jobs—and Williams, alluding to the media frenzy stirred by reports of abusive labor practices at Foxconn, Apple’s Chinese manufacturing partner, broached the elephant in the room: Will Apple ever be a “Made in USA” manufacturer?

Well, yes, to an extent. “Next year,” says Cook, “we will do one of our existing Mac lines in the United States.”

Apple’s main man(Right) CEO Tim Cook, Steve Jobs’ successor.
Apple’s Main Man
(Right) CEO Tim Cook, Steve Jobs’ successor.

We can’t derive too much from one sentence, though here’s what we do know: The first Apple product with the “Made in USA” stamp will likely be the Mac Pro, a hefty, ultra-fast workstation computer. According to Philip Elmer-Dewitt of Fortune, who’s been reporting on Apple since the early 1980s, the Mac Pro remains one of two Apple products that sells fewer than one million units annually, thus making it a more specialized item—and easier to forecast demand. Shipping costs come into play as well, as the Mac Pro is among the larger Apple products and more expensive to move internationally. Earlier in 2012, Cook stated Apple’s intent to significantly update the Mac Pro for a 2013 unveiling. With a reported investment of $100 million for a new plant on American soil, the new Mac Pro could become the shining new beacon of U.S. tech manufacturing.

Unsurprisingly, the implications of Apple’s conservative, albeit laudable plans to manufacture at home are far reaching and, often, premature. For instance, rumors began swirling in upstate New York, a budding chip manufacturing region, concerning a possible computer chip factory being built with Apple’s support. Addressing the hearsay on a local radio program, Governor Andrew Cuomo offered a rare reasoned response surrounding Apple’s announcement: “Apple has a lot of competition, obviously, for their location. I don’t think that they’re anywhere yet in the decision-making.”