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U.S. Secretary of Commerce honors business alumni’s company for export success

Friday, May 30, 2014
U.S. Secretary of Commerce honors business alumni’s company for export success

Rugged Liner, an Owosso, Michigan-based company, received the U.S. President’s E award for exports at a May ceremony in Washington D.C.. The E awards are the highest recognition any U.S. entity may receive for making a significant contribution to the expansion of U.S. exports.

From left: U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker presents the
President's E Award for Exports to Rugged Liner President Scott
Williamson and Yannick Greiner SBA '99, director,
international/OEM sales.
Yannick Greiner, director, international/OEM sales at Rugged Liner, and a 1999 graduate of Oakland University’s post-master’s program in international business, has helped lead the company toward unprecedented growth by pursuing new markets and product sales since he joined the company in 2010.

In her congratulatory letter to the company, Pritzker wrote, “Rugged Liner has demonstrated a sustained commitment to export expansion. The E Award Committee was very impressed with Rugged Liner’s success in starting an export sales program in 2010 and exporting to more than 70 countries by 2013. The company’s customization of products for export markets was also particularly impressive. Rugged Liner’s achievements have undoubtedly contributed to national export expansion efforts that support the U.S. economy and create American jobs.”


“This award is the result of a collective and committed effort at Rugged Liner,” says Greiner. “Rugged Liner is honored to be the recipient of the President E Award.”


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.


“Today consumers in more than 70 countries have access to Rugged Liner products. In the past four years, our export sales have increased significantly enabling Rugged Liner to grow, add jobs and expand facilities in Owosso,” Greiner notes.


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 the business school’s post-master’s program in international business at Oakland University, he found many benefits, 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 business school 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 was impressed with Oakland University’s professors, 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.

“Oakland University is a great university, offering really good, custom-made programs where you can work full time, travel and continue learning.”