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Successfully Selling Into India" presented by the International Business Network (IBN) and NEOTEC; Lincoln-West High School 2016 Commencement

On Wednesday, May 25th, we listened to four prominent local business people share the challenges and successes they have encountered conducting trade with Indian counterparts in a seminar titled "Successfully Selling Into India" presented by the International Business Network (IBN) and NEOTEC at the Kent State (Stark) Conference Center in North Canton.

IMG_1498These people were Ms. Daria Roebuck, former VP of HR at ERICO and CSU professor; Mr. Wayne Duignan, VP of International Marketing at Horizons Imaging; Mr. Fady Chehade, VP of International Marketing at GOJO Industries; and Mr. Kirk Lintern, President and CEO at the Lintern Corporation. We appreciated the fact that all of them made use of slides to emphasize the important points they were making because we were able to take more detailed notes and thus learn a lot about India as well as good trading practices.

Among the things that we learned from their presentations were:

***India is the 7th largest economy by GDP standards and 3rd largest by PPP. Its GDP is 17% agriculture; 65% services and 18% industrial.

***As of 2015 there were 1.3 billion people in India and 500 million in the labor force.

***India will become the world's 5th largest consumer market by 2020.

***Raising incomes will life 291 million people out of poverty and create a 583 million-strong middle class.

***India's aggregate consumption will quadruple over the next 20 years.

***Key attribute of the India market is the goal of becoming a World Class producer and supplier.

***There is a tremendous industrial manufacturing base in India. In fact the automobile industry is one of the largest in the world with an annual production of 21.48 vehicles.

***India's retail market is worth $600 billion as of 2015.

***As of 2013 there is $45 billion of direct foreign investment in India.

***As far as India's infrastructure, there is a need for better roads so transportation of goods becomes more efficient and there is a need to build more ports and improve access to coal and other raw materials.

***According to Mr. Chehade, simplification of laws, transparency of procedures, and the willingness of business people to accept delays would go a long way towards making the trade practices easier and more efficient.

It seemed that all were in agreement with Mr. Duignan when he talked about the pathways of doing business. He stated off by saying that "India was like nowhere else in the world." One really has to go there and spend some time there to really understand it. He believed that the key ingredient was "credibility"- a person or company planning to do business there needs to demonstrate that it is really exploring establishing roots in India and not be just a "fly by night" operation. Mr. Duignan couldn't stress enough that building relationships with Indian counterparts was imperative because once one is trusted it is a lot easier to do business there. Another important factor was the need for "flexibility" because what a person from the U.S. might regard as normal may not work in India. Therefore, it is important at times to know when to "back away" and let the Indians to it their way.

Mr. Chehade said that it is very important to pick the right partner for your "strategy execution" and to be able to share with him/her your vision and mission.

Mr. Lintern agreed that "negotiation" is always a central element because no two situations are ever the same.

Likewise, Ms. Roebuck said that multi-cultural communications was definitely one of the four areas of most concern; the others being talent management, organizational development, and compensation/

All told, the audience was composed of almost 30 attendees including representatives of the legal, banking, and manufacturing sectors. We sat next to Mr, Michel E. Nouafo, VP of International Household Sales at Vitamix. Mr. Nouafo immigrated to the United States from Kamaroon. He initially came to here in 1983 on an F1 student visa. He loved it here so he went through the necessary procedure and became a U.S. citizen in 1999.

We left feeling optimistic about future trade relations between India and the United States. As Mr. Duignan advised, long-term planning was the best route to take; he maintained that Horizons Imaging had been trading with India for 12 years but it 3 years to achieve market stability. As for the present, sales have doubled each year for the past 5 years. After all, he maintained (and we agree) that the "Indian people are innovative and hard-working. Take advantage of their sometimes unorthodox, but effective solutions."

Our other event for Wednesday was the Lincoln-West High School 2016 Commencement which took place in the evening at the Masonic Auditorium on Euclid Avenue just a couple of blocks away from Margaret W. Wong and Associates.IMG_1510 We arrived early to help the Friends of Lincoln-West prepare the event. As it turned out, there were plenty of people helping so we just had to stand by a door and advise parents and friends that no one was to be admitted until6pm.One of the well-wishers was Mr. Luis F. DelValle, Care Manager with Positive Education Program who was there because one of the students that he was working with was graduating from Lincoln-West that night. Since he had six other commencements to attend this week, Mr. DelValle's schedule was quite full. As for his own family, "my own kids graduated a long time ago," he said.


Soon it was 6pm and we all got to go in and take a seat. Commencement was not scheduled to start until 7pm so we sat big and did some work on our iphone and watched the people arrive. By the 7pm starting time, the auditorium was quite full.

Then, of course, the graduating seniors, 131 in all, marched in to "Pomp and Circumstance" and the program begin.

Dr. Robyn Davis, accompanied on the piano by Mr. Teroy Wade, sang a stunning version of the National Anthem.IMG_1514

Ms. Darla Hilt, the school principal, welcomed us all but said that the "distinguished guests" of the evening were those graduating which was 85% of all of the seniors (an impressive number indeed) who would be receiving $500,000.00 worth of scholarship money and attending 20 different colleges and universities. She listed as one of the accomplishments the 60 hours of community service that each student had performed.

Ms. Hilt went on to offer the quote by Bill Keane that read, "yesterday is the past, tomorrow's the future, but today is a gift. That's why it's called the present." Ms. Hilt concluded by saying that these students are "the present."

We were also touched by the two fine addresses by the Salutatorian, Ms. Shanika King, and the Valedictorian, Ms. Jackeline Valladares.

We really liked the commencement address delivered by our friend Mr. Hans Holznagel, Chairman of the Friends of Lincoln-West. Throughout his speech, Mr. Holznagel kept interjecting the words, "I believe in you" regarding this graduating class. He mentioned that the problem of several years back concerning the bringing of firearms to school IMG_1501had been alleviated thanks to the cooperation of this particular class. He said that it was also a tribute to the young people and the four ethnic groups that comprise the Lincoln-West High School student body have worked together to an excellent degree. He recalled one particular instance at a Hispanic celebration when there was a shortage of students to perform a special dance and how much it moved him to see everyone step up to take part regardless of their cultural backgrounds. "All are stronger when they are in it together," he said.

As a parting note, he advised the soon-to-be-graduates to do three things. First, obtain a library card and use the library often. Mr. Holznagel hoped that IMG_1502that the young people would get "hooked for life" in this instance. Second, he advised everyone upon turning 18 to register to vote because their voice was needed regarding the election of all office holders from judges to the U.S. President. Third, he said that the graduates become accomplished in terms of "taking care of business" meaning that all deadlines should be met and everything that they had to do to maintain a healthy existence get done.

Soon it was time for the students to receive their diplomas. In addition, however, each of them received a beautiful black portfolio with the Lincoln-West Logo stamped in red upon it. As Mr. Holznagel mentioned, these portfolios were made possible due to a gift from Margaret W. Wong and Associates. Inside each one was a personalized proclamation from Mr. Earle Turner, the Clerk of Courts. Also inside was a note pad so the students could keep track of their daily activities along application for a library card and....a form to register to vote!!!


Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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