In 2012, Indiana exports totaled $34.4 billion – a record high for the state and growing faster than both the U.S. and other Midwestern states. One contributor to Indiana’s global force is Hoosier Gasket Corporation, a midsized family owned business based in Indianapolis.
Hoosier Gasket is the largest privately held manufacturer of gaskets in the U.S. and has earned the position as one of America’s top producers of sealing systems and solutions. Their technical expertise, quality products and excellent customer service is what has earned them a spot among their U.S. customers as a top supplier and partner for international business.
Exporting has played a significant role in Hoosier Gasket’s solid, quality growth over the past few years. In 2007, the company made the strategic decision to expand their international base with a focus on emerging countries such as China and Russia. Seven years later, exports account for nearly 15 percent of its $25 million in annual revenues, with a growing overseas customer base in China, Russia, Brazil, India, Australia, Mexico, and Ukraine.
According to Oleg Gostomelsky, vice president at Hoosier Gasket, the decision to focus on international exports had to do with simple math. Knowing that nearly 96 percent of consumers live outside the U.S. and two-thirds of the world’s purchasing power is in foreign countries, Hoosier Gasket “couldn’t afford to ignore such a large percent of potential clients.”
Gostomelsky explains that their early success came from one of their U.S. customers – Chrysler, who sold the license to manufacture one of its vehicles at the time to GAZ (Russian automobile line). Hoosier Gasket was one of the many suppliers on that list. From the beginning, the company leveraged their relationship with Chrysler to expand to other original equipment manufacturers in Russia and Ukraine.
THE REALITY OF THE MARKET IS CHANGING.
International markets are buying products and wanting American-made, high-quality products. For continued growth, company’s long-term business plans should include international markets. Fifty eight percent of U.S. companies that export only export to one market. Hoosier Gasket, however, is placing priority on Brazil, Russia, India and China – the four largest growing and emerging countries.
“Hoosier Gasket is an innovative, strategic company that has successfully diversified their business internationally,” said Nancy Langdon, senior director of international programs at the Indy Chamber. “There’s apprehension – especially among small to midsize Indiana businesses, that the risk is too high and entry into foreign markets is too difficult. But with solid research and planning, experienced local and foreign partners, Indiana companies can and will profit from the global marketplace.”
Today, Hoosier Gasket has a manufacturing facility in China; and offices in St. Petersburg, Russia and the Netherlands.
One of the goals of the Indy Chamber is that many more Indiana companies – service, ecommerce and manufacturers – experience the same success.
Hoosier Gasket has been successful in leveraging local and federal resources to benefit their growing power. In addition to the Indy Chamber, Hoosier Gasket has sought help from the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Indiana District Export Council and the International Center.
Gostomelsky credits their international success to four principles: maintaining quality advantage, understanding and respecting cultures, building strong relationships, and leveraging essential resources.
In 2012, Hoosier Gasket received Commerce’s Export Achievement Award. Two years later, the company was recognized with the Champion of Workforce Excellence award from Conexus Indiana and the Indiana Automotive Council, highlighting their commitment to prepare Indiana’s workforce to meet today’s needs and tomorrow’s challenges that the modern advanced manufacturing environment demands.
Today, Hoosier Gasket is a formidable force locally and internationally. According to Gostomelsky, “we are very well positioned for continued growth and will continue focusing on improving our products, providing the best quality service to our customers, and being a key engine for Indiana to continue to expand its international footprint.”