MEDC, Automation Alley lead five Michigan companies on trade mission to China and Thailand

LANSING—Business leaders from five Michigan companies joined Automation Alley and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. on a trade mission to Guangzhou and Shenzhen, China and Bangkok, Thailand to better understand these markets and meet with qualified buyers interested in Michigan products. The mission began Sept. 13 and continues through Sept. 20.

Automation Alley is coordinating the trade mission in partnership with the MEDC’s International Trade Program. The program is committed to increasing Michigan’s exporting opportunities by helping businesses identify and enter promising international markets. Since its inception in 2012, the International Trade Program has worked with Michigan companies to support more than $3 billion in export sales and 14,090 jobs across the state. Top reported countries for export sales include Mexico, Canada, China, the United Kingdom, and Germany.

“In today’s rapidly changing and interconnected world, the value of building and strengthening relationships with other countries is more important than ever,” said MEDC CEO Jeff Mason. “Trade missions like this one open doors for companies by helping them identify and enter into new relationships in foreign markets. These companies will have an opportunity to reach new customers in two important markets.”

China remains Michigan’s third largest export market, with $3.5 billion of goods and services sold in 2018. U.S. good exports to China in 2018 were $120 billion. In Thailand, U.S. export sales reached $12.5 billion in 2018, an increase of more than 30 percent in the past decade. China and Thailand continue to be promising markets for Michigan goods and services. In fiscal year 2018, export sales facilitated by the MEDC International Trade program totaled more than $102 million in goods and services to China and $2.3 million to Thailand.

“Automation Alley’s trade mission program is world class and results-driven. What makes our export assistance unique is that our team takes care of every detail for the participating companies before, during and after the mission, putting them on the path towards success in the global marketplace,” said Tom Kelly, Automation Alley’s executive director and CEO. “They are meeting the right people, learning from the experts and saving time and money.”

Mission participants will benefit from matchmaking meetings, networking events, and logistical support from the Michigan China Center and the U.S. Commercial Service in Thailand. There will be an in-country briefing with U.S. Commercial Service, the American Chamber of Commerce, and other experts in Guangzhou as well as Bangkok. The participating companies are:

  • AHB Tooling & Machinery (Roseville) – industrial distributor providing comprehensive metalworking solutions including abrasives, bandsaw blades, cutting tools, fluids, metalworking machinery and especially waterjet machinery, parts and consumables.
  • Supply Chain Solutions (Grand Rapids) – logistics provider for companies interested in exporting their products, services and technologies to markets around the world. Core industries in include agriculture and food, auto parts for OEM’s and aftermarket, manufactured products and machinery.
  • OPCO Lubrication System (Fremont) – manufacturer and distributor of conveyor lubrication equipment for multiple industries including automotive.
  • Dell Marking Systems (Rochester Hills) – provides identification solutions to several industries including spring, automotive, glass, tubing, steel, and pipes.
  • Dickinson Wright (Bloomfield Hills) – law firm headquartered in Michigan with 20 offices throughout North America and providing legal services throughout North America, Asia, and Europe.

Automation Alley is a nonprofit manufacturing and technology business association and Michigan’s Industry 4.0 knowledge center, with a global outlook and a regional focus. They connect industry, academia, and government to fuel Michigan’s economy and accelerate innovation. Automation Alley offer programs and services in business growth, entrepreneurship, talent development, defense, and international business, providing resources and knowledge to help their members grow and prosper in the digital age.

For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit


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