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Canadians could make things easier

By: Norm Harbison

December 9, 2011

In response to Don Loepp’s View­point [Will US OEMs shun Canadian suppliers?” Page 6, Dec. 5]: Being in the injection molding business since the late ’70s, I’ve earned a good respect for the products and services provided by our neighbor Canada.

I’ve traveled there many times for pleasure and for business. For a short while I was even employed by a Canadian company.

As recently as 2007 I had to do inspections/qualifications of equipment. We purchased a complete automation cell with a molding machine and robotics. For the most part the folks I dealt with were cordial and more than happy to do business with their American partners, BUT …

Unfortunately, the trips across the border to Canada at both Windsor and the Bluewater Bridge were a major pain! Trouble arose after I showed my passport, driver’s license, business card and even documents showing the companies we were purchasing equipment from. Several times I was delayed at the border for more than an hour for various reasons. They even questioned why I would rent a car in Detroit and drive to my Canadian destination. Conversations at the border led to full searches of my rental car, bags and my person, as well as questions about my reasons for coming there. Most of my trips where of short duration, but I always felt unwelcome when asked when I’d be leaving!

Trust me, I don’t look like a threat, I don’t have any criminal record and I always treated the people at the crossing with respect and in a friendly manner. I finally gained access once by letting them know that, in the future, equipment could be bought else­where. Another time, they called the supplier to verify my visit and intentions while in the country.

I’m sure there are people who have positive experiences at the border, but I’d venture to say there are more out there who have been given a hard time. See if you get any other responses and maybe the crossing will become easier if the issue is brought to the forefront.

Protectionism goes both ways. You want to make sales to Americans, make it easy, fast and friendly to get across your borders!

Norm Harbison

Kramski North America Inc. 

Largo, Fla.