Time well spent

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:33 pm

Executives of Grafton-based MPI Coin recently returned from a trip to China, where they met with vendors, distributors and others to enhance business contacts in the booming Asian country.
MPI Coin is a wholesaler for collectible coins with specialty packaging.
Andrew Schwartz, president of the closely held company, and John Riechers, its treasurer, made the trip to China. Some of MPI Coin’s packaging and manufacturing is already outsourced to China, and that arrangement has worked reasonably well for the company, Schwartz said.
However, the MPI executives said they were concerned about their lack of a direct relationship with their outsourced manufacturers in China. Currently, MPI Coin obtains its supplies via third-party distributors and is removed from the manufacturing process.
“We are three generations removed,” Schwartz said. “There can be a big lag time, and we’re not sure what’s happening.”
After meeting and talking with Tim Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, and Ulice Payne and Robert Kraft, co-chairs of the MMAC’s China Business Council, Schwartz and Riechers were convinced they needed to make a trip to China to find and meet with new potential suppliers.
Before they made the trip, they asked Payne’s firm, Addison-Clifton LLC, which specializes in helping companies with international trade issues, to look at their company’s outsourcing situation and advise them on the best way to proceed.
That advice made a positive change before they made their China trip, Schwartz and Riechers said.
“We definitely are more plugged in,” Schwartz said. “We have a process set up through Ulice to establish that communication (during the trip).”
Schwartz and Riechers also said Payne’s work with their company focused on teaching them about the international trade process, instead of micro-managing it for them.
“That’s why it’s worked out so well for us,” Riechers said. “I think there are some definite opportunities for us there.”
After the trip, MPI Coin will be better educated not only about the opportunities for purchasing products and services from China, but also how it can maximize those opportunities for future growth, Schwatz said.
“We will gain more control over the products we are already purchasing from China and learn more about how we will be able to work with China effectively in the future,” Schwartz said.
MPI Coin was started in 1972 as a family company, but made a transition to a closely held company in 2002. That year, the company also began exploring areas other than coin-related sales.
“The 50-state quarter program, which is scheduled to run through 2008, helped grow the company,” Schwartz said, because of the renewed interest in coin collecting. “But that is scheduled to end in 2008. Part of the strategic decision is to expand the scope of the organization so that our 47 employees can continue to grow as the organization grows and changes well beyond 2008.”
MPI Coin has developed its own software systems that it uses to track sales, clients and other data to be more productive. It also developed its own marketing campaigns and techniques for recruiting the most qualified workers.
MPI Coin is marketing those services to other small to mid-sized companies, which has resulted in additional revenue streams and areas of growth for the firm.
Those services are where Schwartz and Riechers believe MPI Coin, which will eventually change its name to MPI Companies, will eventually focus more of its attention.
“We have a great group of people,” he said. “We’re not a family business, but we look at the people here as family. We want to provide the best level of service for our employees – insurance, profit sharing and salaries – and all that takes money. The more we are able to generate, the better product we can deliver for our employees. And the more value we can add to other companies, the more we can become a resource. We want to be more than just a vendor.”
MPI Coin
Address: 1235 Dakota Dr., Grafton
Employees: 47
Industry: Collector and commemorative coins, software vendor, recruiting and marketing
Web site: www.mpicoin.com (The company does business online as Coins of America)
April 29, 2005, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

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