All posts by Ernie Watts

TRC Chicago to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with HACE

I’m looking forward to participating in the Executives’ Breakfast Forum with the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement on Tuesday, May 5, 2015 at the Palmer House in downtown Chicago.  HACE’s annual Chicago conference connects leading organizations with top Hispanic talent. To kick off the conference I’ll be joining senior level leaders to provide an overview on the shortage of Latino executives in corporate America and discussing the major obstacles to their advancement.

TRC Chicago to Develop Can Toy Brand in LATAM

Can Toy business around the globe. Can Toy is a durable natural rubber dog toy that can be filled with treats to keep your dog entertained for hours. This natural, non-toxic, sustainable and biodegradable product will be exhibited at the Global Pet Expo for the first time and promises to be one of the hottest pet products released this year.

True Dogs, LLC has partnered with Artemis Rubber in Longmont, CO to produce Can Toy products in the USA. Baker said “We’re thrilled to be working with Artemis Rubber. They bring three generations of rubber manufacturing expertise to bear on our efforts and nearly two decades of work on pet products. Artemis is the perfect partner to help us deliver exciting and innovative American made products to the pet industry.”

True Dogs, LLC has also entered into several regional agreements to develop the brand internationally. Baker said “Our goal is to work with best in class organizations to develop our brand around the globe and we’ve begun to put those pieces in place.”   True Dogs is represented by NV Pets in the US, by PWS Brands in Europe and by TRC Chicago in Latin America.   Andy Irving, Principal at PWS Brands, commented: “Can Toy is brilliant! It’s new and yet familiar at the same time. Our customers are quite excited about it.”

Can Toy Originals are available now. Can Toy Hunt, Can Toy Magnum, and Can Toy Pup Cans will be unveiled at the Global Pet Expo and available to the public in May 2015 at Pet Specialty retailers.   Media and buyers attending the show can see Can Toy at BOOTH 880.

Global Pet Expo is the pet industry’s largest annual show and is listed in Tradeshow week 200. This annual listing of the top 200 North American trade shows is compiled by the Los Angeles, CA trade show industry publication Tradeshow Week.

Contact: Adam Baker
True Dogs, LLC
[email protected]

Emerging Markets Summit

Emerging markets continue to yield exciting growth opportunities for organizations that are committed to long-term results.  Volatility and uncertainty remain the norm yet a focused, strategic plan, built on a market knowledge inventory that prioritizes risks and opportunities can often produce returns that exceed expectations.

Tomorrow I’ll be attending the Emerging Markets Summit sponsored by the University of Chicago’s GSB.  The robust program is sold out clearly indicating that interest in emerging markets is high and the tools to be successful in these markets are in high demand.

Does your organization have the right plan to be successful in emerging markets?

TRC Chicago, LLC Retained By L.A.B. Equipment, Inc., To Lead Business Development In Latin America

CHICAGO – The Reilly Company, a leading international services firm assisting clients around the globe, announced that TRC Chicago, LLC has been retained by L.A.B. Equipment, Inc., of Itasca, Illinois to directly manage all sales and marketing activities in Latin America.

“As a truly global company, L.A.B. Equipment provides customer focused shock and vibration test equipment in every major market including North and South America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia,” said Bill Noonan, President of L.A.B. Equipment.  “Latin America continues to be a significant growth opportunity for us and we know from first hand experience how effective The Reilly Company can be directly managing our channels of distribution in this complex region”.

“In 2006 – 2007, L.A.B. hired The Reilly Company to assist Techlab Systems (L.A.B.’s sister company) with business development in Latin America and Asia”, commented Ernie Watts, President of TRC Chicago.  “Now our focus will be on business development opportunities for the core L.A.B. Equipment products in Latin America.  Our unique “pay for performance” model allows L.A.B. to leverage our expertise in channel performance improvement and strategy to realize immediate returns on incremental revenue and profit.  We look forward to working with Bill and the L.A.B. team again.   The greatest reward for our work is the strong and solid relationship we have with our clients, past and present’, added Watts.

Download a PDF Version of the Press Release – TRC PR – LAB Launch 10.01.13 v1

L.A.B. Equipment, Inc., was established in 1933 and has been recognized for decades as the global leader in the design, manufacturing, and service of product reliability and package testing equipment. The corporate offices of L.A.B. Equipment, Inc., as well as its sales and engineering team, are located in Itasca Illinois.

The Reilly Company, founded in 1988, is an international management services company providing solutions to management, marketing, sales, distribution and operating problems worldwide.   The company is dedicated to identifying areas of potential market opportunity and performance improvement thereby helping its clients to compete successfully in world markets and maximize their growth and profits.

TRC Chicago, LLC is the Chicago based affiliate of The Reilly Company.

Cruising in the Caribbean

Working closely with Fulton 365, The Reilly Company helped Crocs build a retail resort presence in the Caribbean tied to the major cruise lines!

For years Crocs has had a significant presence on the island of Puerto Rico and built strong relationships with the local wholesale accounts. The classic Crocs are a natural for the year round sun and boating activities that are core to the brand. Upon completion of the Market Opportunity Assessment conducted by The Reilly Company in the spring of 2010, Crocs moved to restructure its’ local management team and hired Luis Santori as their new Business Manager for the Caribbean.

With his strong background in the retail and surf markets it didn’t take Luis long to recognize that significant growth opportunities exist for the Crocs brand throughout the Caribbean. Using the International Expansion Process facilitated by The Reilly Company, Crocs determined the best go to market strategy for the many diverse islands and qualified prospective partners to support the strategy.

Built into the retail expansion strategy was a key competitive element – direct marketing and promotional links with the major cruise lines operating in the Caribbean. The mastermind behind this strategy was Paul Fulton, CEO at Fulton 365. Since 1999, Mr. Fulton and the team at Fulton 365 have facilitated the opening of retail stores and operations in every major cruise ship port in the world. For more than a decade, they have developed relationships with top cruise lines, marketing and promoting products to nearly 70% of the world’s 16million annual cruise ship passengers.

Crocs will be featured on cruise ship marketing and promotions and Crocs store owners will benefit directly from port of call audiences ready to stock up on the great styles perfect for cruise destinations.

That is the kind of collaboration that can put your business expansion and profit maximization on cruise control!

Are You Satisfied With Your International Growth?


Do you have a strategy which will insure significant future international market share? Would it be useful to further enhance your international success by benefiting from the experience of others?

The Reilly Company has found that most businesses can show rapid returns by addressing the following areas:

  1. Developing a focused international plan based on complete information.
  2. Using market knowledge to develop a unique selling message.
  3. Teaching international partners to make money with your products and services.
  4. Developing a productive supplier/partner relationship.

The first step toward realizing these returns often involves an in-depth self analysis. Ask yourself how satisfied you are with:

  1. Your competitiveness in the marketplace?
  2. Getting new products to the marketplace?
  3. Your sales growth and profitability?
  4. Your effectiveness of strategic and operational planning?
  5. Managers having clear, and measurable goals?
  6. Your differentiation from competitors?
  7. Understanding of why sales goals are not met?
  8. How to integrate information from various business areas?
  9. The understanding of current and future market trends?
  10. The ability to identify and focus on the most profitable products?
  11. Your ability to sell what the customer needs?
  12. Understanding “early warning signals” and adapting to changing trends?
  13. You know what your best channel of distribution is?
  14. Your sales force/partners meeting future needs?
  15. Tracking the causes of unacceptable market share?
  16. Spending adequate time in the field influencing results?
  17. Your ability to allocate dollars/people to higher payback areas?
  18. Your comfort level in monitoring the business?
  19. Capabilities and development of key managers?
  20. Your senior management support for international operations?

Our work across a broad range of industries and geographies allows us to benchmark your performance in these areas against other successful companies. From there, action plans can quickly be developed and implemented that deliver results.

Let us show you how we have helped hundreds of companies improve profitability and increase share in international markets.

A Global War for Talent? – Part 2

In May I wrote about the serious disconnect between organizations looking for the talent they need to build their business and the pool of talent looking for new opportunities. This week I witnessed true engagement on the part of an organization committed to making the connection work for all.

ConocoPhillips (COP) is a leader in the oil and gas industry on a global scale. They have weathered the current economic storm better than most with a sound business strategy and the ability to marshal all of the necessary resources, particularly their human resources.

On Tuesday we participated, in support of one of our clients, in a meeting of the Hispanic Affinity Group at COP. Our client’s work with Fortune 500 companies interested in reaching out to the Latino community, both here and abroad, continues to reinforce the value that affinity groups bring to global companies – value that impacts recruiting the necessary talent and then retaining that talent.

Many companies short sell their efforts to build a meaningful pipeline of talent. “We’re not hiring now.” “Budgets have been slashed.” “We are focused on improving productivity.” Worse yet, companies fall into the trap that this is a “buyers'” market and believe they can be selective and don’t have to work very hard to find talent.

Our experience shows us that, in many cases, the exact opposite is true. Real talent will always be selective about the organizations they work for and will do the hard work (research, qualifying, networking) necessary to find the right opportunity. They understand that companies are being selective about hiring (if hiring at all) but also have a keen sense of a company’s real level of engagement. They want to see organizations actively promoting career opportunities. They want to see organizations continue to support community outreach. They want to work for organizations that will work just as hard as they do to find the right fit.

COP is re-energizing their support of affinity groups and looking to make them more strategic and visible in terms of hiring, retention and community involvement. The day after their Hispanic affinity meeting they were out in full force at our client’s local diversity recruiting event. Key COP staff (including senior level executives) were manning the company booth, volunteering in the career help center and delivering a workshop focused on Hispanic careers in the oil and gas industry.

COP continues to scrutinize their headcount and manage their resources as diligently as any other organization in the current environment. Their actions this week, however, demonstrate their long term commitment to making the connections to the talent they will need going forward.

Is your organization ready to compete with COP for talent?

Starry Eyed in China


Our clients routinely ask us about opportunities in China. Usually it is with eyes glazed over and pupils shaped like dollar signs!

“Of course we have to be sourcing in China. Of course we have to be manufacturing in China. Yes I need a Chinese website. And of course, if I could just sell one sku to every person in China I could retire tomorrow”…

All of the above may, or may not, be true. What is most certainly true is that China is a very complex place to do business that is, and will be, an ever greater opportunity for organizations that are prepared and realistic. Realistic about the investment in time, effort and resources.

When it comes to doing business in China the old adage – “look before you leap” rings true. Many of the pitfalls and potential hazards of rapid expansion to China were outlined recently by John Rogers, President of the MidWest US-China Association.

China really is “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” as he has traveled to the country over 50 times advising clients and working directly on projects. He correctly points out that China is really multiple markets with an incredible amount of diversity in terms of language, customs, geography and cultures.

In our work with clients considering expansion to China we often have to pull back on the reigns just as they are leaving the gate. This is where a solid understanding of a businesses’ strengths and weaknesses combined with a consensus on the critical success factors can save real time and money. From there a complete market knowledge inventory can be developed and an accurate opportunity assessment completed. At that point, armed with a rational strategy, the business can begin to tap into available resources and the necessary contacts for success.

Turkey – Crossroad of Opportunity


I recently attended an overview of the economy in Turkey hosted by the Consulate General of Turkey here in Chicago. Many of our clients routinely lump their Middle East activities in with their European structure and management teams. While this may make some geographic sense it can lead to misconceptions and missed opportunities.

Turkey alone represents a unique opportunity for any organization committed to building a presence in a market situated between and within multiple markets – Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Some of the eye opening facts about Turkey include:

  • 15th largest economy in the world; sixth largest in the EU.
  • Highest growth rate among OECD countries for the last six years.
  • 63 million mobile users (in a country of 77 million people)!
  • 11th largest internet user population in the world.
  • World’s 4th largest Facebook user population!
  • 6th largest automotive manufacturer in Europe.
  • Largest bus manufacturer in Europe.
  • Europe’s largest television exporter.
  • Turkey is expected to transport 10% of the world’s oil and gas supply when on-going projects are completed.

While trade volume with the United States has almost doubled since 2004, the USA still ranks behind Russia, Germany and China as a supplier to the local Turkish market. It may be time for more US companies to re-think their strategy when it comes to Turkey.

A Global War for Talent?

Tomorrow I will be supporting one of our clients at their premier annual career conference for Hispanic talent. Given the current economic climate they are expecting a solid turnout of professionals with mid to senior level experience in every major functional area. Turnout on the exhibitor side remains weak, however, reflecting the restricted levels of hiring going on in general.

While these are obviously extraordinary times I am not so sure there isn’t a wider, more fundamental, and longer term, disconnect between organizations looking for talent and the pool of talent available.

As President of a small, privately owned, commercial contractor I was a member of a professionally moderated advisory council of other owners/C-level executives. We met on a monthly basis to review strategy, discuss issues and hold each other accountable. What I remember most about each meeting however was the inevitable discussion around the following universal dilemma – “there is all this talent out looking for a job and yet I cannot seem to find the people I need for my organization…”

Based on that experience, and my involvement with a non-profit organization assisting Fortune 500 clients with their diversity hiring needs, I am convinced that the Global War for Talent is often an internal civil war pitting recruiters vs. hiring managers, strategy vs. cost containment, comfort zones vs. risk taking, etc.

True talent always succeeds (either at your organization or elsewhere). Organizations focused on the critical success factors in their business will always find the necessary talent.

The talent is out there…are you man enough to find it?