I face business bias every day. People, including potential vendors, ask me where I buy tooling. Because my company makes bulky extrusion blow molded parts, and other factors, I have little choice but to source molds here in the United States. But people judge me by my look and accent, and disregard the truth that I learned and that I serve blow molding businesses throughout the United States, and that I have for the past 18-plus years.
I've been in the United States for more than two decades. Last month, I found it was an interesting experience to visit my native-English-spoken friend's design firm in Shekou, China. He is from the Midwest, and he communicates to his employees in — guess what? — English.
What I find interesting in Steve Toloken's Viewpoint [“U.S. language lag may cost business,” April 2, Page 6] is that he means to wake up English native speakers to pay attention to major foreign business languages. I heard this kind of comment quite a bit recently. However, I'd really like to campaign for a new definition of bilingual: to understand both design and manufacturing, marketing and processing, aesthetics and engineering, etc.
Businesses are losing against global competition because their employees lack these kinds of bilingual skills and concepts, particularly in management fields. Management judgments based on insufficient business “languages” can cost companies a lot of money and precious time. A good designer/product development team can challenge customers regarding business-related regulations such as from the Food and Drug Administration and Underwriters Laboratories Inc.
Time and effort can be saved as required tests and information can be shared during early stages of product development. Scrap can be reduced if operators understand the function of an individual part and/or feature being molded.
To be bilingual is great for business — if we can extend its spectrum.
Iceberg Enterprises LLC
Park Ridge, Ill.