How traveling with a Governor’s Trade Mission helped this metal tooling shop bring more aerospace business to Washington state
MetalTech, Inc., a contract manufacturer in Sumner, Wash., has built a steady and loyal customer base for its turnkey manufacturing, fabrication and assembly products and services. The company is a leading supplier to a range of industries including automotive, commercial, industrial, medical, military and research laboratories.
in 2010, MetalTech set its sights on the aerospace sector for its growing future. But this hungry company dismissed the idea of tip-toeing into this competitive market. Instead it moved aggressively with a well-timed strategy that coincided with the worldwide boom in aerospace, capped by its first-time attendance at the Farnborough Air Show in July 2012, one of the two largest airshows in the world. MetalTech was one of 50 companies that joined a state delegation to the United Kingdom, led by Governor Christine Gregoire.
Since the Governor’s participation was expected to attract broad attention to the delegation, MetalTech saw its chief opportunity at the show as one of exposure to new customers overseas. But Commerce trade specialists supporting the delegation added additional value. They made sure MetalTech had one-on-one meetings with strong prospective new customers and met the right people among the tens of thousands of attendees. “We began to think, ‘why can’t we come away with some PO’s (purchase orders),’” said TJ Richards, MetalTech’s general manager.
The show also provided MetalTech with a deeper understanding of the global aerospace market from other exhibitors at the show as well as from fellow members of the Washington delegation. Seeing the other exhibitors also sparked a bit of state pride. “We saw other states exhibiting at the show and it got my blood going,” Richards said. “Washington is the center for aerospace.”
The experience validated and reinforced what has long been a MetalTech work ethic. “At Farnborough, it became clear to us that the way to compete globally is through our efficiency,” Richards said. “If a competitor produces a part in five steps, we will do it in four and still win that contract with our emphasis on quality.”
In just under a year after the show, Washington companies that participated reported a total of actual and projected sales of just under $12.5 million. MetalTech picked up a number of high-ticket orders resulting from contacts made at the show, enough to keep their shop of 50 employees, up from 16 in 2010, busy for the near and long term. “The show and all the work that Commerce did for us exceeded our expectations,” added Robert Edmondson, MetalTech’s corporate accounts and business development manager. “We wouldn’t have gained any business from Farnborough without Commerce.”