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Madison Exports, FDI Create Global Business Climate

Find out about foreign direct investment and exports in the Madison Region, which exported $3.1 billion in products in 2013.

By Lena Anthony on May 6, 2015

Madison, WI
Madison / Jeff Adkins

Global business creates growing opportunities for companies in the Madison Region, which exported products worth more than $3.1 billion in 2013, and where foreign-owned companies employ about 2.7 percent of the workforce. Exports enable large and small companies to tap markets and reach consumers around the world, says Ken Wasylik, managing partner of E.M. Wasylik Associates, a Madison-based consulting group that helps businesses navigate international markets.

“Some 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the U.S., [and] 75-plus percent of the world’s purchasing power is outside the U.S. and growing each year,” noted in an address to the Madison International Trade Association, where he is past president.“Companies that had 30 percent or more of their sales outside the U.S. did much better and came out of the U.S. recession stronger, increased productivity and became more profitable.”

Madison Region’s Global Positioning

A cross-section of international companies in the region reach global markets through exports in everything from chemicals to machinery to food products, transportation equipment, computers and electronics. GE Healthcare, for example, ships more than $115 million worth of anesthesia and respiratory products from its Madison operation each year.

Agribusinesses and food products companies make up a large portion of the region’s exports and foreign direct investment (FDI), and are well represented throughout the region. McCain Snack Foods, a Canadian owned company, operates a facility that makes frozen appetizers in Fort Atkinson in Jefferson County. McCain Foods USA, which entered the U.S. market more than 30 years ago, is a leading supplier of frozen potato and snack food products for food service markets, including major national food chains. The company says that one of every three French fries sold worldwide comes from McCain, which translates into 100 million servings of McCain fries every day.

Green County agriculture equipment manufacturer Kuhn North America derives more than 10 percent of its revenues from exports. The company’s France-based parent company has operations across Europe and in North America, Australia, New Zealand, China and Brazil. More than 500 employees work at Kuhn North America’s headquarters in Brodhead. The company markets more than 13,000 machines in North America each year and has achieved an international leadership position in a number of applications, such as hay tools and crop production equipment.

Exporting obviously isn’t just for big businesses. The region offers numerous resources that have helped small and medium-sized companies successfully enter international markets. The Madison International Trade Association provides expertise and resources to members that want to expand into international markets. The ExporTech program, a collaboration of the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Northwest Wisconsin Manufacturing Outreach Center and Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, is a training program that helps small to midsize manufacturers develop an export strategy and identify companies in specific countries that will embrace their value proposition and products.

Worldwide Agribusiness

Leveraging the region’s significant agribusiness cluster, food products are a major export category. Dairy products from Wisconsin are especially big in China. From its headquarters in Beloit in Rock County, Broaster Co. is able to reach customers around the world. Broaster manufactures food service equipment and offers branded food products and programs to food service operators. Its Genuine Broaster Chicken has legions of fans. The company manufactures all of its equipment, proprietary food coatings and marinades in its Beloit facility, where it has about 65 employees.

“This region offers a business-friendly climate, easy access to major interstates and an excellent workforce. For the equipment manufacturing side of our business, these are all imperative requirements for successful operations,” says Chad Vendette, marketing director.

Another company with a global reach, SaveCows/Synergy MetalWorks, has a staff of 15 at its Baraboo operations in Sauk County. The company’s four divisions include Comfort Hoof Care, which designs, markets, and sells hoof-health equipment, tools, supplies and other technology, and Dairyland Hoof Care Institute Inc., which organizes educational events including hoof-care workshops and courses. Sure Step Consulting International Inc. is a consulting company that provides seminars and on-site consulting services for hoof health. Synergy MetalWorks LLC manufactures products for Comfort Hoof Care.

“All four companies reach throughout the world to over 50 countries, exporting approximately 70 percent of our goods and services,” Chief Financial Officer Melanie Burgi says. Read more about the Madison Region’s diverse economy.

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