August 1, 2016
Many Canadians are all too familiar with the American business portrayal of Canada — we are one-tenth the size of the U.S., roughly equating to the size and scope of the market in California. Owing to similarities in standards, language and business practices, the Canadian market is often treated like a mere extension (a district/region) of the U.S. sales structure. Dedicated Canadian executives, marketing and technical resources are being made redundant and are believed to be not needed to service the Canadian consumer/end-user.
All too often, Canadian industry veterans have witnessed these past U.S. driven strategies. Plants, warehouses, technical/customer service departments, marketing and engineering resources are eliminated and consolidated into the U.S. operations. However, much to the surprise of many of our American friends, these companies begin to rapidly lose Canadian market share and are forced to reverse their consolidation strategies, once again adding the needed local expertise and resources. They are forced to confess that business is conducted differently in Canada, and therefore Canadian operations are required.
Let’s start with the obvious: Canada is a separate, distinct country to the U.S. We are a constitutional monarchy; the U.S. is a republic. We have a parliamentary-cabinet government, while the U.S. has a presidential-congressional system.
From these different government structures, some major variances have resulted:
- We have unique codes, standards and regulations
- We are officially bilingual and have unique language, packaging, product, and communication requirements
- Our economy is more resource-based and we have different product requirements
- We have different rules concerning the protection of intellectual property (e.g., patents, trademarks, copyright)
- We have unique tax and financial reporting requirements
- Business is conducted differently (relationships must be built before the selling can begin)
- Our markets are more culturally diverse
- Infrastructure and communications vary across the country (it is tough to provide comprehensive sales coverage across Canada)
- Government relations and lobbying are done differently in Canada
I believe that the second largest country in the world, with the eight largest economy in the world, with growing GDP and an abundance of natural resources, should make Canada a good place to conduct long-term business and a good place to utilize dedicated Canadian technical and leadership resources. It has been proven many times in the past: if you choose to “half-ass” your support of the Canadian market and treat Canada like the US’s 51st state, you will pay by losing Canadian market share.
You can count on EFC, your Canadian association, to provide your business with the unique Canadian services required to succeed in our country. We are Canadian!
Jim Taggart is President, Electro-Federation Canada.
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