Brazil is Open for Business

Doing Business in Brazil
Doing Business in Brazil

Doug Sharpe
President of Elasto Proxy

Recently, my wife Donna and I visited Brazil as part of a trade mission from Elastomer Valley, a group of Québec-based businesses who have joined forces to pursue economic development opportunities.  As the co-founders and co-owners of a growing manufacturing company with offices in Canada, the United States, and China, we enjoyed our first trip to Latin America.

Brazil is a vast and vibrant country with abundant natural resources and great human talent. It also boasts the world’s sixth largest economy and is Canada’s ninth largest trading partner. For Elasto Proxy, accessing the Brazilian market is a key part of our plan to increase exports of our custom-fabricated rubber and plastic components.

As one of just six Elastomer Valley companies that traveled to Brazil, Elasto Proxy benefited from business meetings scheduled by the Québec Government Office in São Paulo. Since March 2008, Québec’s office in Brazil’s largest city has been helping businesses like ours to form relationships with potential partners. Group events included presentations from international lawyers and customs brokers.

By focusing on vehicle parts and plastics, the Elastomer Valley trade mission provided Elasto Proxy with valuable opportunities to promote our application knowledge and experience in these areas. Our meetings with potential partners who produce tractors, trucks, buses, defense vehicles, and mobile vehicles were especially important, as these are industries we have served for many years.

All of the Brazilian businesses that we met with appreciated the quality of our work and how Elasto Proxy strengthens supply chains by manufacturing small quantities of custom rubber and plastic parts. Since many of these Brazilian companies are subsidiaries of North American and European entities, they already have vendors for high-volume production runs. Elasto Proxy’s ability to produce high-value, low-volume seals and gaskets captured their attention, however, and helped lay a foundation for the future.

Sealing solutions for specialty mobile vehicles, tractor and bus manufacturers, and defense applications weren’t all that we discussed, however. Doing business in Brazil is a social affair, with customs and routines that are more similar to those in Europe than in China. Personal connections develop alongside business relationships in Brazil, and we enjoyed getting to know our potential partners.

Brazil is open for business, as Elasto Proxy saw firsthand during the first of two planned trips there. We look forward to returning to São Paulo, as part of the SME Passport program in 2013, and encourage you to ask us questions about our trip by commenting on this blog entry. Brazil’s economy is booming, and Elasto Proxy is eager to share what we’ve learned.


Hard as a Hockey Puck, Soft as NHL Ticket Sales

Hockey Puck
Hockey Puck

Clyde Sharpe
President of International Sales

Hockey and rubber have similar languages.  In ice hockey, checking is a defense technique for gaining possession of the puck or disrupting your opponent’s play. With rubber components, checking refers to short, shallow surface cracks caused by damaging action.  If you’ve ever watched a hard-fought hockey game, especially during the NHL playoffs, you’ll appreciate the similarities between these two types of “damaging action”. But even if you’re not a hockey fan, you’ve probably heard about the NHL Lockout. Sadly, there may not be a quest for the Stanley Cup this season.

Here at Elasto Proxy’s headquarters in Boisbriand, Quebec, Canada, we’re still enjoying our national winter sport. Sure, there’s less chatter about who’s better – John Rye’s Toronto Maple Leafs, my Calgary Flames, or the Montreal Canadiens that Megan Beaulieu and so many members of our production team love. But there are still CHL games to watch and ice hockey leagues in which plenty of people (myself included) participate. During the winter, I skate in two leagues and use my stature to screen goalies, make assists, and score on tip-ins. During the summer, I play in one ice hockey league and one ball hockey league. It’s great exercise, and nice to see your name on a scoreboard at any time of year.

The NHL enjoys competition, too, but the owners and players are locked in a game of high-stakes poker that could cost them more than ticket sales. Unlike soccer, where all you need is a ball, hockey requires expensive equipment like sticks, skates, pads, and helmets. So as the NHL players and owners raise the stakes and stop the season, the biggest loss may be future players. Without role models like Wayne Gretzky and Maurice Richard, kids may choose other sports – and less expensive ones at that. The NHL is less brutal than it used to be, but the NHL Lockout of 2012 could cause the sport pain for years to come.

As hockey players know, getting hit by a fast-moving puck doesn’t tickle. As Elasto Proxy explains in its Seal Selection Guide, solid rubber profiles are the hardest and most resistant to compression. But some softer elastomers are used in ice hockey, too. Visit a skating rink sometime and look for the rubber profiles between the glass in the boards. Part of their job is to provide vibration resistance. Rubber parts are used in hockey helmets, too. With our water jet cutting capabilities, Elasto Proxy has even custom-fabricated an EVA foam for helmet inserts.

So will there be an NHL season this year? I don’t think so. At this point, the negotiations are as hard as a hockey puck on a cold winter day. Sure, some give-and-take could help end the lockout, but I’ve worked at Elasto Proxy long enough to know that a solid profile doesn’t just turn into a sponge profile. Still, as long as I can play hockey, I know I’ll be all right.

How to Talk to Engineers


By Doug Sharpe, President of Elasto Proxy

Recently, Elasto Proxy joined CR4: The Engineer’s Place for News and Discussion, an on-line community where technical professionals ask questions, get answers, and interact with their peers. CR4 is primarily an engineering community, but also welcomes suppliers, product designers, and industrial buyers. The website consists of blogs and forums, and includes technology-related news stories from across the Web and around the world. Truly global in nature, CR4 is powered by GlobalSpec, Inc., a technology services company with a powerful search engine and robust database of engineering and industrial products.

When my wife Donna and I started Elasto Proxy in 1989, we could not have imagined that our small business could connect with so many technical professionals all in one place – and while on-line no less. Elasto Proxy attends conferences and tradeshows, of course, and Donna and I just returned from a trade mission to Brazil. Clyde Sharpe, Elasto Proxy’s President of International Sales, visited Europe twice this fall, once to Berlin, Germany for InnoTrans 2012 and then again to Italy and Belgium for meetings with suppliers. Megan Beaulieu, our Executive Support Specialist, also attends key business events, such as for the SME Passport Program here in Montreal.

Joining CR4 may not seem as exotic as traveling to other countries, but it’s an exciting part of our new content marketing strategy. Elasto Proxy’s involvement in GlobalSpec’s on-line engineering community also complements our participation in that company’s virtual events series, such as GlobalSpec’s recent Wind Energy Technology Tradeshow. Blogging for CR4 isn’t the same as staffing a tradeshow booth, of course, but our approach isn’t too different from what you’ll read here – or what you’ll learn if you contact our solutions providers. Elasto Proxy’s CR4 blog is about sealing solutions for a reason.

Engineers don’t want to be “sold” to, especially when they’re visiting a website that is their place for news and discussion.  Elasto Proxy understands that, respects it, and appreciates how CR4’s approach complements our own philosophy of analyzing all of your requirements and listening to all of your needs.  As a past president of the Industrial Sealing Distribution Association (ISD), I helped to advance the ISD’s mission of enhancing member success through information, education, and interaction. Today, as a part of the CR4 community, Elasto Proxy is blogging in that same collaborative spirit.

I hope you’ll read my first CR4 blog entry, Solving Industrial Sealing Challenges, and share your thoughts here or on CR4.  What sealing challenges would you like to learn more about? And is your own company ready to talk to engineers, too?