Buying an existing US company can be a really attractive option for a foreign company. You benefit from the existing customers database for your sales; the immigration process is easier to transfer potential executives or key ressources and you can potentially have access to Defense & Space ITAR projects (if 51% of the capital is owned by a US citizen). But finding the right company to acquire can be challenging.
Alinh HOANG, co-founder of Aero Invest Consulting, answered our questions in order to get his feedback & tips on how to succeed on your export projet and M&A process.
We think that his experience and knowledge of the north American Aerospace market could really benefit you.
Alinh, What is your Aerospace background & experience?
My professional experience has been essentially focused on the aerospace industry since 1976 and I worked in six different companies covering a large range of components, equipment, and systems that make aircraft and rotorcraft flying. As a former VP Business Development Americas for Zodiac Aerospace Group from 2003 through 2012, I was particularly involved in the Cabin interiors products market.
Among the various success stories that our marketing actions brought to the company, I consider the Boeing 787 as a major achievement due to the amount of the shipset dollar value and the key positioning of Zodiac Aerospace among Boeing suppliers.
I moved from Paris to Seattle 20 years ago with a “simple” mission given by the CEO of Intertechnique (Zodiac took over Intertechnique Group in 2003) : “sell our products & systems to Boeing” to mitigate our heavy dependence to Airbus.
When did you decide to create Aero Invest Consulting and Why?
After my retirement from Zodiac Aerospace, I thought useful to take benefit of my knowledge of the aerospace industry and help some small or mid-size European companies to get a footstep in the USA. With a fellow Director of Zodiac, we created Aero Invest Consulting LLC to find potential company acquisitions. In addition we carried out some marketing studies on the aircraft cabin interiors market.
What services does your company provide?
We are a Consulting company and we provide our service to any European aerospace supplier interested to find the right American company profile. Thanks to our aerospace networking built over 20 years, we can accelerate the research of potential targets fulfilling the need description of our customers.
According to you, what would be the three most important points that companies should focus on if they want to succeed on their export project?
- Define a clear long term strategy to execute the export project
- Set up the financial and human resource to reach the goal
- Be prepared to get positive results not before 5 to 8 years of continuous marketing efforts
What are the most common mistakes that companies make while wanting to realize M&A in the Aerospace industry in North America? What are your advices to them?
- Disregard the cultural difference of the headcount between American and European employees behavior..
- Having no European bi-cultural Director within the Board of Directors of the American subsidiary.
- Disregard the need to create a company spirit to keep the employees
- American Directors and employees don’t have the same approach and behavior as their foreign counterparts. Serious misunderstanding may occur if the foreign side neglects this cultural difference.
- It is important to appoint at least one Director (from the headquarter) in the board of the company to report and align the strategy of the American subsidiary with its parent company.
- The American subsidiary is often left alone providing its financial results show positive figures. Owners pay generally little consideration to the need for American employees to be proud of their company. Loyalty is reinforced in rewarding employees with potlocks, improvised BBQ, Birthday cakes, or events organized by the management linked to outstanding working time.
Do you have last few words about the particularity of the North American Aerospace market?
This market is highly competitive, it requires a very complete analysis on the niche products that we want to promote.
New entrants need to understand the process of selection of suppliers and the long time to spend before getting a foot inside the customer door.
Aircraft OEMs demand more complicated and tough conditions to select their customers and Tier 1 suppliers are flowing down the same rules to their Tier2 or 3 suppliers.
Thank you Alinh,