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Location and strategy

Location and strategy

Location and strategy

Just an introduction to better understand the questions: we are a foreign engineering company specializing in steel construction design (calculation) and detailing. We work most of all in industrial projects (steel buildings for factories, silos and other plants with steel structures) but we also have good experience in other kind of buildings and bridges.
We have offices in Italy and in China and we can give good quality and prices (just take this for granted in this thread). We are about 20 people. We are seriously considering opening a representative office in the US where we recently had rewarding experience with a couple of projects in Nevada and Indiana.

The aim of the representative office is to better market the U.S. and to better serve the customers with local support.

1st problem: location
Where do you think would be the best location for our representative office? Which elements should be considered? We shouldn’t need much of local human resources, so the point, we guess, is to be in an expanding area, full of new projects (California for bridges and buildings probably? Chicago for factories and plants?), easily connected with the rest of the States (Denver?). Also how open minded are locals to foreign companies may be a point, wouldn’t it (so, East Coast?)? We made some researches about competitors in the detailing market and we found many big companies in California, a few in the south (AZ, FL, TX, also AL), some in the Midwest (but not that much in Chicago and Denver), only few in Boston-NYC area.

2nd problem: strategy
In the US we are not licensed engineers, so we'd like to find licensed engineers as partners that can subcontract to us for detailing (and design eventually) and then they should check, (eventually correct), approve and stamp our work. The interesting thing in our offer, we think, is that we can provide these engineers with the workforce (detailing most of all, but also calculation and checking) to bid for big projects without investing all the money and time to build this “back office” strength. Strong offices with already many detailers and engineers will not be interested in us (even though with our detailing they can make their prices down in offers) but, we suppose, small (or new) engineering firms that want to get bigger jobs should be our market, shouldn’t they? We may also help their marketing and credibility with our international testimonials and interesting prices due to overseas activities.

At the earliest the office will be opened in 1 year, more likely in 2-3 years.
So, any suggestions for location? Advice (and critics, why not?) over strategy?

Mech - Steel structure design

RE: Location and strategy

New Orleans?


Greg Locock

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RE: Location and strategy

You mentioned success in Indiana.  Then that would be a good place to start.  It is central to the country, partnerships with international countries is supported by the local govenment.  There are steel mills and specialty steel processing companies doting the area (if you are involved in actual deliveries).  The specialty companies may need more contacts and support for servieces thei customers need that they do not provide as simply a specialty metal processing company.  Travel to either coast is easier than if you were on one coast and had to travel to the other.  However, there is the winter season.  If you want fewer seasons than going south into Kentucky might work.

RE: Location and strategy

There are many aspects of succesful engineering practice in the US. The most important is knowing locally accepted solutions. Even thoug you have great technical knowledge, this is only one requirement.  Since you're mostly in the industrial building sector, most of your clients and contractors would be placed in the collar counties where local names are paramount.  To succeed here you would have to invest time in one locale at a time and really be part of the communit you're serving.   

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