Monday, January 7, 2013
SBA alum awarded for excellence in international businessYannick Greiner has seen for himself the tremendous impact international business can have on a company’s bottom line.
So it was all the more meaningful for Greiner, a 1999 graduate of Oakland University’s post-master’s program in international business, to accept an individual platinum award this fall from the Marketing and Sales Executives of Detroit (MSED) for his achievements in international business.
Greiner, the international sales director at Rugged Liner, helped lead the company toward unprecedented growth by pursuing new markets and product sales. “It was a nice recognition of our hard work and investment,” Greiner says. “Plus, it recognized the value of international sales. That’s my passion. International business is definitely gaining more importance as companies pursue opportunities abroad. Ninety-five percent of the total market is outside the U.S., so if you want to grow, you need to think globally.”
When Greiner began his career with Rugged Liner in 2010, the Owosso, Michigan-based truck bed-liner manufacturer had not exported products or conducted business with automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Greiner took on the challenge of developing an international sales and marketing plan, completing extensive market research, developing new relationships and completing numerous sales calls to distribution channels in overseas markets.
Under his guidance, Rugged Liner translated its website, brochures, instructional materials and voice-over videos into multiple foreign languages. Greiner also participated in numerous overseas trade shows and utilized United States Department of Commerce and State of Michigan programs to support the company’s export efforts.
These strategies proved enormously successful. In less than two years, Rugged Liner’s export sales comprised 35 percent of total annual sales revenues with products in more than 50 countries.
When a company expands its operations internationally, Greiner says, it can fuel greater growth overall. The new sales, marketing and negotiating programs the company develops for other countries can also be applied to its domestic business. “With new international programs, a company is often able to secure large contracts in the United States,” Greiner adds.
This dynamic proved to be true for Rugged Liner, which also developed first-time sales with leading OEM customers over the last two years. “Because we’ve grown so much, and so rapidly, we were able to open a second plant in 2011,” Greiner says. The company also added 25 full-time employees.
Greiner, a native of France, earned his master’s degree in international business from University of Strasbourg, School of International Affairs, France, and attended Kalamazoo College’s Foreign Studies program as an undergraduate student. In addition to English and French, he speaks German, Portuguese and Spanish.
Greiner was working in international sales and exports for an automotive supplier in the late 1990s when he decided to further his studies. “I had started my professional life, but I still wanted to hone my skills,” he says. “I truly believe learning is a lifelong process.”
When he investigated SBA’s post-master’s program in international business at Oakland University, he found many benefit, including the ability to balance his work responsibilities with his studies by allowing him to take one class at a time.
“The Oakland University program at the SBA allows you to have your cake and eat it, too,” he says.
The program perfectly complemented the post-graduate education he received overseas.
“Oakland University’s post-master’s program in international studies gave me tools I would not have received in Europe,” he says. “It gave me some academic structure I did not have. It gave me the confidence, the framework and the structure to work effectively. It also gave me in-depth knowledge of international finance and international accounting and marketing.”
Greiner says he was impressed with Oakland University’s instructors, including Professor of Marketing Ravi Parameswaran. “I had two classes with him: marketing and international marketing. He’s definitely very thorough. He’s the international business guru over there. I remember him fondly.”
The men serve together today on the Michigan District Export Council.
Greiner also maintains ties with the SBA through Associate Professor of Marketing Janelle Townsend, who he met in 2005 after giving a presentation on doing business in Brazil for the local business community. “She approached me and asked if I would like to make a presentation to her classes,” recalls Greiner, who now lectures for Townsend on a regular basis. “I accepted that because it was OU, and it was like coming home.”
Greiner says he never hesitates to recommend the post-master’s business program at OU.
“Oakland University is a great university, offering really good, custom-made programs where you can work full time, travel and continue learning.”