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By Gina Beim, P.E.

Founder and President of MCDA Consulting, LLC

‘’The light is on when the humans come 3 – 5 meters apart and go on lighting, until humans leaves about 20 seconds, the light is off.”

This is from the instructions of a motion activated night light I recently purchased.  OK, we all understand what the manufacturer means.  But they could have done better, right?  That’s just one of the reasons you need to surround yourself with the right professionals before venturing internationally.

Should you identify a sales representative, an exclusive distributor, or form a partnership with a local firm?  The business climate of your target country, including government regulations regarding international money transfers, may determine that.  Import tariffs, political climate, security concerns – all may influence your decision on how – or even if – you should enter the market.

The US Government has offices that help you identify sales representatives, but who will interview and select one?  Say you do find a suitable rep, and this person can communicate with you in plain English.  But are they sufficiently familiar with the US helical pile terminology?  Alternatively, is someone in your staff versed in the technical terms used in the country where they will be selling?  I’ve seen translated marketing materials mentioning piles being ‘’conducted” into the ground (as in driving a car), and drilled ‘’axles” (instead of drilled shafts) being installed.  

Cultural issues are also critical: are you aware of business customs in the country you want to sell to?  Some countries are much less direct in their negotiating language than we are in the US.  Will you understand it when yes actually means no?  Is a deal sealed by a handshake a done deal?  If you and the person you are dealing with of different genders, are handshakes even acceptable in the foreign country you are dealing with?  

There is more: Product names or acronyms can be offensive, and you may need to skip a version on your software sequence to avoid a bad luck number.

This is just a sample of what you need to think about.  It can all be a bit overwhelming.  You are good at what you do, and your product is excellent.  That’s all you should need to worry about.  At MCDA Consulting, we have advanced degrees in international business and years of experience in global marketing.   Give us a call before you take on the world.

Gina Beim, a registered professional engineer in the State of Ohio, holds Masters degrees in engineering and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.  For more than a decade she directed the marketing department of a manufacturer of testing instruments for the engineering and construction industry.  In 2007 she founded MCDA Consulting LLC, a strategy consultancy firm with expertise in marketing and decision analysis, a focus in engineering and manufacturing, and a penchant for international work (Gina is originally from Brazil and speaks multiple languages).

MCDA Consulting, LLC


MCDA Consulting Explores Some of the Challenges of International Marketing for Helical Pile Manufacturers & Engineering Companies