Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Art of Negotiation

Last night ended at about 9pm, when I fell asleep, on hold with the internet help line. While I slept quite soundly, the sleep did not last long enough. Three am I was wide awake. At least I was not completely confused about the time or my whereabouts; I just watched some bad TV and was down to breakfast especially early.

Our US Commercial Service briefing started promptly, and could have continued all day, but sadly only stretched for about an hour. Discussion included the macro environment of China and then some specific business challenges and concerns. Topics included cost of labor, regulatory environments, banking and finance, goals and profitability of US firms. A good deal of time was spent on intellectual property rights in China, some challenges and solutions were discussed at length.

Dave Bramlage from Cole Hardwoods and I then met up with Gavin and William, two Taiwanese gentlemen that originate wood products and connect with companies that have specific needs. We met with two companies and discussed current inventories, outlook into future demand and sales, as well as distribution and current prices. I have always enjoyed the negotiation process in business, but I must say that today was a first for me. Imagine two Taiwanese gentlemen, two Hoosiers, and a Chinese business manager, all huddled around a wooden table where the tea service did not cease, nor did the exchange between buyer, intermediary/translator, and seller. Success came quickly for Cole Hardwoods with a direct sale of three containers. Conversation then turned to the need for veneer logs, a product that Dave does not carry. The constant forklift traffic outside our meeting area did not distract from the opportunity for the Indiana State Department of Agriculture to reinforce our economic development strategies of hardwoods and international trade and discovering a promising trade lead for Indiana will be another success story for this trip. I still love the excitement of the negotiation room!

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