CINCINNATI - Procter & Gamble is doing it.
So are GE Aviation and GBBN Architects.
They’re among Cincinnati area businesses rapidly expanding their presence in China.
It’s a high stakes game.
Thousands of employees already service Chinese clients and customers. The number is expected to grow.
“China is the world’s largest market for computers and cars,” said Bob Lees, First Vice-Chairman of the Greater Cincinnati Chinese Chamber of Commerce.
GE Aviation last week signed a deal with China creating a joint venture for avionics research and development. It’s anticipated that the new company will create computer operating systems for aviation.
That could significantly boost the bottom line.
“We had about $778 million in business with China for 2010, but this year we’re looking like that’s going to be increased all the way up to $1 billion,” said GE Aviation Spokesperson Deb Case.
Case said there are 2,500 GE jet engines currently being used in China with orders for another 1,000 to 1,200 on the books. Service contracts and spare parts will add revenue as well.
Work is progressing on a new airplane that will be built in China, but powered by GE engines. Development is underway on a new GE/CFM engine for a narrow body plane as well.
That means jobs for GE Aviation across the United States and in Evendale.
“We have about 1,800 jobs in the U.S. that are tied directly to our business that we do in China,” Case said. “In Evendale, specifically, we’ve got about 500.”
GBBN Architects is headquartered at 8th & Broadway, Downtown, but does 40 percent of its business in China, according to CEO Matthew Schottelkotte.
“We started in China designing housing,” said Schottelkotte. “It’s grown into health care. It’s grown into cultural projects and really blossomed to reflect what we do here in the United States in all our services.”
Thirty people currently work in GBBN’s China office, but Schottelkotte said plans are to double that in 2011. He added the key to doing business in China is building strong relationships and doing great work.
That’s a message leaders of the Greater Cincinnati Chinese Chamber of Commerce drive home to firms seeking to do business in China.
Shau Zavon, the Chamber’s Founding President, said those companies must avoid two common mistakes – staying home and going it alone in China.
“I think they have to go to China to understand the market and to understand what Chinese do in their market,” she said. “A lot of people try to sell their product in China, but they’re afraid to go to China.”
Zavon said businesses need to partner with somebody on the ground in China to succeed.
“If you just go there along without somebody who knows the China market, who knows the China people, it wouldn’t work,” she said.
Lees said Greater Cincinnati firms need to help the Chinese Chamber let the rest of the world know the region is as great place to do business.
Next is something Lees heard President Obama tell the Chinese on a trip to the Far East.
“The United States market is pretty much saturated with imported products and that companies that are based abroad need to look at manufacturing more in the United States,” Lees recalled the president stating.
“The markets also need to be more open for U.S. made products to go in that direction as well.”