TRANS-ATLANTIC TRADE - Exports up, but US manufacturers find distribution/logistics key to business

By: | at 08:00 PM | Channel(s): International Trade  

By Karen E. Thuermer, AJOTWith the US Dollar hitting all time lows against the Euro and the British Pound, US exports to Europe are enjoying a surge not seen in some time. Trade between Europe and the United States has changed dramatically over the years, largely because of the world’s manufacturing base turning to less expensive locations such as China, India and Eastern Europe.
Many US companies wanting to see products in Europe have or are opening distribution locations near ports-of-entry such as in Belgium, the Netherlands and France. That’s largely because ports such as Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Antwerp, and Le Havre not only offer good steamship line connections between North America and Europe, their inter-Europe connections make it easier to distribute products.
Consequently, these locations continue to be fiercely competitive when it comes to attracting US companies desiring to do business in Europe.
Take Firestone Industrial Products Company, LLC, a leader in air spring technology used in trucks, for example. In February this year, the company announced the opening of a new business support and technical center in the Arnhem region of the Netherlands.
While Jim Kimpel, the division’s marketing manager, told Rubber & Plastics news that Firestone Industrial gets about 60% of its revenues from business in North America, about 37% today comes from overseas. He earmarks Europe as well as Russia, China, and India as primarily locations for growth.
While the company had originally grown its business in Europe by exporting products from the United States, corporate officials realized they were beginning to loose business to competitors that were beginning to set up shop in lower-cost European locations such as Turkey, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. Consequently, the division opened a plant in Poland and now the support and technical center in the Netherlands.
“Our new location in Arnhem will give Firestone Industrial Products Europe improved geographical proximity to key customers as well as provide enhanced space and logistics for the creation of a state-of-the-art business and technical center,” said Dan Leonard, managing director of Firestone Industrial Products Europe.
Last year Axcent Sports, the exclusive licensee of Descente cycle, run and triathlon apparel in North America, Europe and Australia created a European subsidiary to distribute Descente athletic and cycling apparel directly to retailers throughout Europe. Riis Cycling is the distributor for Descente Athletic in Scandinavia and Nordic countries.
Axcent Sports intends to leverage its strengths and success in North America, its sponsorship of the World’s top cycling team, Team CSC and Descente’s phenomenal brand legacy and recognition into broad European sales. To help, the company has opened a European headquarters in Oldenzaal, Holland, and hired TNT Fashions Group to be its logistics provider.
TNT has extensive experience in providing a wide range of logistics services in the apparel field including distribution to specialty retailers throughout Europe particularly when it comes to storing and distributing hanging garments and boxed goods. As Hugh Walton, president from Axcent Sports, commented: “Europe is a very interesting market for Axcent, but also a very complicated one.”
Ada MI-based Amway has seen its business mushroom since establishing its first distribution center in Moerdijk near the Port of Rotterdam in 1992. In 1997, Amway moved the center to the city of Venlo, where it established a business partnership with Dutch logistics firm Seacon Logistics, a Dutch third party logistics provider (3PL) that specializes in maritime freight as well as air cargo. In the fall of 2002, Amway consolidated European operations from a logistics center in Germany to the Venlo facility.
Today, Amway boasts operations in 23 countries throughout E

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American Journal of Transportation