Three Perfect Days: Budapest


According to fDi Magazine—a division of the Financial Times—Budapest, Hungry ranks third on their “European Cities and Regions of the Future” list. By economic development standards, that’s not too shabby for a city that for centuries was simply known for being the convergence of art, castle building, invasion, and rebellion. Budapest is the combination of two cities, BUDA and yes, you’ve guessed it, PEST. So it seemed like a fitting location for the American Gear Manufacturers Association (AGMA) to choose Budapest as the location for their first ever International Business Conference, a conference bringing companies together.

The three-day conference was designed to provide attendees both new market intelligence and ideas for business development. In total, 25 gear manufacturing companies from around the world traveled to Budapest to take part in the event. Thirteen of the companies were from the United States, and the other 12 were from Europe, Asia, and Australia. The companies met to discuss principles for growing their businesses through diversification. Included on the conference’s agenda were sessions on:
• Keys to successful business growth;
• Inside the mind of a leader;
• Market opportunities in Central Europe;
• World market for gearboxes and geared motors.
Participation in the event was exclusive, and attendance was by invitation only. Traveling with this exclusive group was Steve Barnhart, manufacturing specialist, Illinois Manufacturing Extension Center, a NIST MEP network affiliate. Steve was invited by the AGMA, to not just tag along but provide advice on business growth and market diversification to all participating companies. Steve was a featured presenter during the conference as well as a person sought out for expert one-on-one advice. That’s pretty heady stuff for one of MEP’s own. It’s a feather in the cap of Steve, and another in a long list of bona fides for MEP’s business growth practice.

The message that Steve carried is that a company can apply structure and discipline to their sales growth efforts. It’s the same kind of structure and discipline that applies to cost reductions and production efficiencies. Steve’s message is profound in its simplicity:
1) Develop a clear and compelling vision;
2) Appoint an empowered leader;
3) Conduct quick cycles of learning about the four Ps (Product, Promise, Production, People);
4) Identify and confront obstacles;
5) Develop a structured implementation / decision making process.
Time will tell if any of the companies attending the International Business Conference are ready to diversify or have already inked new deals. In the meantime, it’s nice to learn that the AGMA has taken a proactive approach to encouraging and facilitating conversations about business growth. Not many people know that AGMA is an international association with an American name. AGMA has about 430 members; over 100 are located outside of the U.S. AGMA has members in 32 countries. Business is global. So is AGMA.
Note: This blog entry by Mark Schmit is posted on the Web site of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership []. It can be access (with additional links) at []. Also visit []. Related observations by Joe Franklin, AGMA president, appear in the October issue of Gear Solutions magazine [].