Midsize firms look to grow domestically Study shows most not looking overseas.

September 24, 1991

Despite the increasing importance of global markets and foreign competition, 48 percent of all mid-size U.S. manufacturers say that their primary corporate strategy is to grow domestically rather than internationally, according to a national study by Grant Thornton, a major accounting and management consulting firm with offices in Baltimore.

Only 42 percent of manufacturers with annual sales between $10 million and $500 million say they intend to grow both here and abroad, while 7 percent say they will focus primarily on markets outside the United States.

Thornton surveyed a random sample of 250 midsize U.S. manufacturers by telephone in May. The survey has a margin of error of 6 percent.

According to the survey, 70 percent say their toughest rivals are in the United States. Only 24 percent say their stiffest competition comes from abroad.

Among those top executives who believe that their toughest competition comes from outside the United States, 31 percent cite Japan as the No. 1 source; 16 percent say their main competition is from Germany. "More midsized manufacturers should be giving serious thought to how they can compete in a worldwide economy," said Arthur E. Flach, a tax partner with Grant Thornton's local office. For companies that fail to recognize the opportunities, such a limited, insular focus will inhibit growth potential. And for many, selling abroad may be the most practical way to survive an increasingly competitive U.S. market."

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