06-03-13 | Blog Post

Gearing Up for IRCE: Michigan Business Owner Talks About Going Global

Blog Posts

Chicago IRCE 2013

Tomorrow nearly 4,500 executives and over 200 speakers are going to flock to Chicago for the 9th annual Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibit (IRCE). Here at Online Tech, we were too excited to wait for some of the amazing insights of the growing e-retailing industry. We figured no one wanted to wait, so I’m bringing a little sneak-peek at what’s to come at IRCE.

I got the opportunity to speak with Dan Asma, the president of Michigan-based McKeon Products. McKeon Products started as a small earplug business in 1962, and has since grown into a whole line of ear-care products that can be found in over 40,000 locations in-store and online. Dan started at McKeon’s close to four years ago, when they were just starting to realize their export opportunities had great potential.

So, they pushed their global initiatives. They went to trade shows across the globe. Asma explained that there were two phases for McKeon growing in a global market. The first phase was people coming to the U.S. and using their products. When they got home and realized they didn’t have Mack’s ear-care products available to them, they’d call the company to see how they could become distributors in the area. Subsequently, the second phase involved slowly building those distributor relationships around the world.

I assumed those relationships would be extremely different abroad than here in the U.S., but Asma holds that they were actually strikingly similar. Most of the issues had to do with customs, labelling, and the differences in a distributor’s process (for instance, McKeon is regulated by the EPA and FDA, but in other countries those regulations could look wildly different, or be non-existent).

This hasn’t been the only challenge for Asma related to making McKeon Products a global entity. Dan explains, “It’s been an ongoing process to meet each market’s needs. There are language barriers, cultural differences, and a need to understand how each website’s business model is different than American counterparts.” Also, securing copyrights can be difficult if their brand name (their brand is named “Mack’s”, after the initial owner) has been used in another country for a different purpose.

But they wouldn’t have gone global if there weren’t some rewards. I asked Asma what he found most rewarding about the shift:

“Top of mind, it’s a real validation of the company platform and all the hard work of the people within our company to be able to say, ‘people don’t just like and use our products here, they use and enjoy them world-wide’. It supports our values of supplying an exceptional product and experience to all customers.”

Asma says that he’s excited for IRCE, because there’s going to be so much intellectual capital that he can learn from and take back to the already successful McKeon Products. With 120 sessions ranging in topics from small retailers to e-marketing to technology (and everywhere in between), it’s not hard to share in his excitement.

If you’ll be at the show, make sure to see Dan Asma speak at 5:00pm on June 5th (Wednesday) in the Global E-Retailing track. Also, come see Online Tech in booth #108, where we’re going to be exhibiting our PCI compliant offerings. We’ll also keep you connected if you can’t make it to Chicago, with live-blogging and live-tweeting all week long.

Visit www.macksearplugs.com for more about McKeon Products.

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