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Why exports are key to growing your manufacturing business

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As Australian manufacturers, the export market is an important one for growth, says CEO of Axis Manufacture Phil Scardigno.

Most businesses understand that export revenue will increase their bottom line, but they are unsure of the steps and business risks to execute to make it a viable option.

Selected markets are critical to ensure you can be profitable and get ROI on the efforts.

”Asia is huge and real exciting,” says Mr Scardigno. “We have been exporting there since 1998 in a very small way that started out by enquiries from Singapore and Hong Kong into green friendly technology coatings we marketed locally. This extended out to UAE.”

Axis Manufacture, a company specializing products for the building and construction industry, doesn’t simply want to grow for the sake of being bigger. Rather, quality, environmental and products that have the backing of the customer is core to every fiber of DNA of their operation.

Great products, green, innovative, backed with world class manufacture technology processes and superior customer support is Axis vision and purpose, period.

Standing still is not an option

Axis are pushing the innovative envelope in building products which is driven by their entrepreneurial CEO.

Standing still is a recipe to lose as you are not looking for the next big product and when it’s on the market you are playing catchup which is a dangerous footing to be in business.

Kodak didn’t see or tried to hide digital technology and ultimately it was at the detriment of the company.

Taking calculated risks is simply part of business to test, try, and test try and then all in on what works and your strengths.

Mr Scardigno spends little time looking backwards, taking business challenges to grow better, stronger and more agile.

Having shadowed his day recently I have seen firsthand how he prioritizes his day via marketing, meetings, supplier meetings, customer meetings, social media, operational issues and advertising.

Gripset, a solvent free waterproofing range of products, is the major brand Axis Manufacture exports. It is predominately aimed at the building and construction sectors taking advantage of its green environmental friendly components, which is Axis Manufacture’s main point of difference.

Great opportunities

The company had high periods of activity before the GFC, especially in Macau with the growth of Casino construction. Manufacturing has become a dirty word in recent years due to the decline particular of the automotive industry.

But M Scardigno says there are still great opportunities for quality products to be designed, manufactured and exported to major export destinations.

“Business is always a grind and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he says.

Regular travel is needed to cultivate the current relationships in business and identify new ones.

“I travel every two weeks on average whether interstate or overseas. This gives me a great perspective to listen first hand to customers and suppliers concerns and issues, thus opportunity to correct and modify process where needed.

“It shows I am committed and professional to ensure export channels are open and transparent thus avoiding major obstacles occurring down the track.”

Relationships the key to Asia

The relationships you build is the key to Asia, he says.

“Any XPT market and long-term vision is essential for sustainable success. This is where businesses get unstuck as they are only looking at the current years forecast or just making the money without growing their brand awareness which will bring the customers in the long term as they like and trust your product.

“The old adage that people do business with people they like not the business they have to is still relevant no more than in the manufacturing sector today.”

The major negatives are the high cost to set up offices and employ people off-shore.

Mr Scardigno says the logical move is to engage with local distributors which can be a tough process. But it is achievable if your operation and strategies are synchronized for the diversity of different clients, different products and different cultures.

“Besides our own branded products in Asia we have actively done OEM private label work.

“It helps give volumes but not a strategy for brand growth. We are not successful because our products are the cheapest – rather mid to upper range.

“The quality of ingredients and production quality keeps our customers returning as they work exceedingly well.”

It’s all about keeping customers happy, he says.

Export plans

Over the next five years Axis Manufacture has ambitious plans to bring to Asia unique innovative products that are not cost sensitive, but have specific performance benefits for construction through green benefits and time efficiencies.

“Although Asia and China is a priority, the US market is still one that we’d love to play in with innovative offerings that enable more sustainable returns on the efforts needed.”

Mr Scardigno stays abreast of market needs in prospective export markets by attending exhibitions and fairs to see the latest trends.

He also engages with contacts build up over many years to find out their pain points and help resolve them.

Ryan Makris is a published freelance writer for national business publications on leadership and management within small and medium businesses and the c-suite space in Australia.

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