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Focus on Business

Susan Mucha

Calculating costs to move physical gear is much simpler than predicting inefficiencies of new locales.

As I write this, a trade deal with China that will eliminate the tariffs appears to be in development, but China is continuing to talk tough.

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Sue MuchaA strong communications strategy for front-line employees pays big dividends.

I routinely tell clients perception is reality. Basically, your company’s brand is what your customer perceives it to be. And, as much as marketers would like to say advertising and positioning strategies influence market perception, the reality is your customers’ perceptions are more likely to be influenced by the people they deal with day-to-day at your company.

Is your program management well-informed and organized, or overworked and the last to know? What are your engineers telling your customers’ engineers? Those conversations shape your customers’ opinions on your capabilities and, often, on how much and what type of business they may award in the future.

That said, in the controlled chaos of the electronics manufacturing services (EMS) industry, companies often forget the importance of having prescribed communications processes and behaviors related to information sharing with customers and the timing of that sharing.

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Susan MuchaTrade conditions bring “rain” to everyone. Focus on the customer experience.

As I write this, no relief is in sight in the supply-chain constraint situation, and the US is beginning a trade war with China. I’m reminded of a story my grandmother told me when I got my first marketing position after college. Nana worked at one of Miami’s largest department stores in the days when department stores had huge budgets focused on attracting shoppers via user experience rather than reduced prices. This was the era of department store “wars” for market share, where people would line up outside a store to wait for the doors to be unlocked any time a good promotion ran. Nana had just finished executing her first big fashion promotion campaign with ads in TV, radio and the local papers. She saw this as her “make or break” moment in terms of developing credibility in her new position. As she drove to work the morning of the event, it began to pour. Distraught at the negative impact this would have on shopper traffic, she went upstairs expecting to find an equally disappointed boss. Instead, he looked at her and said, “Cheer up Thera, it’s raining on Burdines and Jordan Marsh, too. And, we have the best ad campaign.”

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Escalating trade wars are causing disorder in the EMS market.

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Susan Mucha

Your customer wants to grow. Are you ready for the transition?

One of the difficult challenges small electronics manufacturing services (EMS) companies face is the transition from a transaction-based job shop to a relationship-based, full-service EMS provider. There are a number of issues to consider prior to taking that journey.

Is it necessary? Bigger isn’t always better. The US is full of small job shops that are profitable and right-sized for their ownership and long-term strategy. At the same time, there are also companies that successfully redefine that model within their region and grow at a pace they are comfortable with. And, a restructuring in trade agreements and tax structure may drive greater opportunities for growth over the next few years as OEMs update their business models to take advantage of this change in the playing field.

 

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Susan MuchaIs the bigger issue a lack of trust of those who don’t “look” like us?

A month ago I had a conversation with a guy who worked for me in my corporate days. We were discussing the #MeToo movement, and he said, “I’m no longer sure where the line is drawn.” This surprised me because over the two decades I’ve known my friend he has never been anything but great to work with. When someone like him is concerned about crossing an invisible line, it scares me. To me, the #MeToo movement has started a conversation that could end up improving opportunities and working conditions for women, or hardening the glass ceiling.

Before the “you don’t know what women have gone through” mail starts, let me say I deeply understand the pain and anger that drives #MeToo. I’ve been inappropriately propositioned in a board room and at industry events more times than I can count. But what was much harder to deal with as I moved up in my career was getting a boss who really didn’t think women should run sales organizations and dealt with that by doing everything possible to destroy my credibility with his boss and my team. I won’t go into details, but I left for a job that paid twice as much and the best boss I’ve ever had.

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