A Kolberg-Pioneer, Inc. (KPI-JCI) representative recently returned from a one-week trade mission to China with South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard and other South Dakota manufacturers, designed to establish contacts and rapport with specific Chinese importers, as well as potentially land a multi-million dollar deal with a major Chinese contractor.
Bruce Viau, international sales coordinator for heavy equipment manufacturer Kolberg-Pioneer, Inc. (KPI-JCI) and president of the Great Plains International Trade Association (GPITA), was invited by the South Dakota Office of Economic Development. As part of the mission, Viau spent time in Beijing, Shanghai, and Ulaanbaatar, the capitol of Mongolia.
While Viau was invited both to represent one of South Dakota's leading manufacturers and because of his role with GPITA, he also used the opportunity to help grow KPI-JCI's sales in Asia and conduct dealer training with the company's international dealerships.
"There are 1.4 billion consumers in China alone," Viau said. "All of those people want infrastructure. They want hospitals, schools, roads, telecommunications – everything we have. That's a huge market for us, as we manufacture equipment that helps build infrastructure."
KPI-JCI was selected as one of two companies vying for a contract to build dozens of aggregate plants over the next five years in China, Viau said. The yet-to-be-named Chinese company purchased a 4,500 VSI crushing plant as a test machine, and will make a purchasing decision in the next few months.
"This is a critical time for South Dakota to be active in exports because that is where our growth is going to come from at this point in time," Viau said. "Only a small percentage of the world's economy is in North America. If we are going to grow our economy and jobs in South Dakota, we have to be able to satisfy the rest of the world's consumers."
Viau, who has traveled extensively around the world, said when he first traveled to China years ago, it was an extremely closed society not open to trade.
"No one would speak to you and you were ushered around by government officials," he recalled. "Today, it's like any open society. I can walk on the streets in China by myself, whereas 10 years ago I couldn't have done that. Trade is done now like it's done in the rest of the world. China has come forward 200 years in the last 15 years."
While in the region, Viau also met with a newly-authorized KPI-JCI dealership, Beijing Huaqiangruiye Trade Co., conducted training with KPI-JCI and Astec Mobile Screens authorized dealer United Machinery, Inc., and met with five customers in Mongolia.
Viau said the vast market potential in China makes it important to continue a presence, noting that sales have grown every year in the past decade as construction booms in Chinese cities. There are more than 1.3 billion people in China, and it grows annually by 9 million people.
"Since becoming a part of the Astec Aggregate & Mining Group, our sales have gone from nothing in China to one of the countries where we can depend on sales each year," Viau said. "The market is growing, and we must actively participate if we want to grow as a company and to grow as South Dakota manufacturers."