Experiences in International Outsourcing
This month, your EFBC president, lent a direct look into his companies experiences in outsourcing employees internationally.
2 weeks ago I traveled to Aguascalientes, a city in Mexico in a state with the same name. The name, “hot waters”, doesn’t describe the sunny shoreline and sandy beaches. Aguascalientes is located in north-central Mexico and unfortunately this wasn’t a vacation to an all inclusive resort. However, I did happen to be there during the San Marcos Fair which is the largest fair in Mexico and one of the largest in Latin America.
Over the past 2 years, we’ve been growing a team of remote employees. What started out as hiring 2 estimators in Aguascalientes has multiplied to 12 in various roles as well as 1 in Macedonia. The roles include estimating, engineering, graphic design, logistics and account management. If you would have asked me 3 years ago whether I thought it would be possible for us to have any remote employees, let alone 13 in a foreign country, I would have have said “No.”
Changes due to Covid, ease of access thanks to technology and shifts in lifestyle are a few reasons why a small business like ours even thought about nearshoring to Mexico. We quickly experienced the great benefits of moving specific operations to a nearby country with a qualified workforce, reduced cost of living and no time difference.
How did we take the first step? With a little bit of luck. A client of ours had offshored their entire sales support and purchasing team to India. I asked myself “If they can do something like that, why can’t we?” I initially felt like India would be tough because of the time difference and not having any business contacts there. We eventually thought about Aguascalientes due to connections that several of our team members have to the city as well as the international business presence – Nissan has 2 factories there which combined produce more than half a million cars per year.
Managing and training the team members in Mexico and Macedonia was the most difficult considering we’re in the Visual Marketing industry. We offer creative design solutions to our clients and follow through with manufacturing. We’ve created a structured onboarding process which incorporates training videos, reading materials and other visuals all kept well organized in Monday.com, a project management workflow application.
During this recent trip we began our search for an office space to allow our team members in Aguascalientes an opportunity to collaborate with each other a few days each week. While we’ve been faced with some resistance to this change but we feel it is key to our company success as well as the individuals.
We’re still learning as we move forward. It isn’t always perfect but it has been exciting to see the team grow in a way I never expected.
EFBC President 2022-2023