DUSSELDORF, GERMANY - Nypro Inc. is spreading the gospel. The gospel of ``going global.'' And its prophet is James R. Buonomo. Buonomo, president of Ny-pro's Asia/Pacific Group, appeared in Chicago recently at a Plastics USA panel session on free trade, and popped up again Oct. 7 in Dusseldorf as a featured speaker at the U.S. plastics industry's K'95 news conference. His message is constant: ``The only future in business is global - not regional, but global.'' And he uses his own company as a case in point.
Buonomo, an 18-year Nypro veteran, loves to spew statistics:
Nypro started as a $30 million company about 20 years ago; today it has annual sales of $245 million and operates 20 injection molding plants worldwide, including in Moscow, Ireland, England, China, Singapore and Hong Kong.
In the late 1970s, the Clinton, Mass., company had roughly 400 customers; today, it generates more than six times the sales with just 100 customers.
Today, Nypro generates less than 15 percent of its sales out-side the United States; by 2000 it wants that figure to rise to 25 percent, and by 2005, it wants half its projected annual sales of $1 billion to come from abroad.
``By the year 2000, we'd like two or three more plants in China,'' he told the gathering of international plastics media.
Nypro also may locate molding plants in Malaysia, Indonesia and continental Europe, and ``several'' in India, where it now has one joint venture facility.
Buonomo listed the following as Nypro's 10 business tenets:
Worldwide manufacturing,with systems networking.
Global uniformity in world-class technology.
Lowest total system cost.
Very satisfied customers.
Million-dollar partnership relationships with customers.
Entrepreneurial management development.
Manufacturing ``next door''to customers.
Integrated molding/assembly work cells.
Buonomo said that from the customer's perspective, perhaps the most important factor is global uniformity.
``You need to use similar machines, process controls, processes, [computer-aided design/manufacturing] systems. They don't have to be exactly identical,'' he explained, ``but they must be similar.''
``We're trying, in a sense, to become the McDonald's of custom injection molding. We like their systems,'' he said of the global fast-food chain. ``They installed a culture in their company,'' much like Nypro is aiming to do now.
Regarding the slashing of his firm's customer base, Buonomo said it involved refocusing on doing business with American multinationals, and on establishing plants in those companies' ``back yards'' around the world, on the basis of significant and long-term production contracts for them.
``Almost every plant abroad that we've built came about because a customer wanted us there,'' he said. ``Very seldom have we built plants on speculation - and those that we did didn't work out that well.''
He said Nypro built its first plant in Singapore on a verbal commitment from a customer, and the proposed deal never materialized.
``We lost a lot of money for a while,'' between 1987 and 1991, but the plant since has become quite profitable, he said.
Another key element of Nypro-style global success involves fostering the entrepreneurial management spirit.
``Each of our companies are independent profit-and-loss oper-ations, with their own general manager who reports to that company's own board of directors,'' Buonomo said.
Also, local partners often are a key to success in markets foreign to a North American company, he said.
``Sometimes we do go it alone,'' he said, ``but often we find that we want a partner'' - usually another global company such as a Mitsui & Co. in Japan or a Netstal Machinen AG in Switzerland.
In concluding his latest sermon on going global, Buonomo stated, ``U.S. companies in plastics and other industries are learning that to succeed on the other side of the ocean, sometimes you have to lose sight of the shore.''