Volume 8, Number 3, July 2010
This newsletter is published in cooperation with the ISM Chemical Group.  

Institute for Supply Management


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In This Issue ...
  • Chemical Industry News
    • Chemical Refinery Demand: 2014: According to Cleveland, Ohio-based industry research firm Freedonia Group Inc., and the editors of Oil & Gas Journal, U.S. refinery chemical demand is expected to exceed US$7 billion in 2014 — a 5-percent overall expansion. Read more.
    • Plastic Surgery Market Ripe for Growth: A recent global survey of hospitals and surgery centers providing plastic surgery shows plastic and cosmetic surgery continues to post some of the strongest procedural growth, year-over-year, of any surgical specialty. Read more.
    • The Chemical Sector's Increasing Appeal for Women Workers: An industry columnist contends that diversity is critical to attracting the best women candidates in an industry that has traditionally been male-dominated. Read more.
    • Green Standards in Development for Chemicals: According to Chemical & Engineering News, chemical companies are moving toward the development of a voluntary standard that enables raw-material suppliers, manufacturers, retail customers and policymakers to exchange data in a standard format on the environmental performance of chemical products and processes. Read more.
  • Feature Article
    • Preparing for Chemical Production Ramp-Up: As the economic recession ends and orders begin pouring in again, manufacturing processes might not easily accommodate ramped-up capacity. This manifests in a host of problems — inventory control issues surrounding raw materials and products, inadequate equipment performance and operating errors, to name a few. Instead, consider putting in place a three-phased plan of action for solving engineering problems. Read more.
  • Market Report
    • Budgeting for the New Normal: A recent report by ICIS Chemicals and the Economy blogger Paul Hodges examines the current state of the global economy, as well as outlooks for key chemical markets and the latest outlook statements from chemical companies themselves. Read more.
  • Announcements: At a no-cost July 29, 2010 web seminar, the CPO of AXA Group will share the secrets to delivering next-generation savings. Read more.
  • Additional Resources: Check out these links to additional resources from the ISM website. Read more.
  • Contact Us about ISM eDigest: Chemicals

Chemical Industry News

Chemical Refinery Demand: 2014

Study Predicts U.S. Chemical Refinery Demand Will Exceed $7 Billion by 2014

According to a new study by Cleveland, Ohio-based industry research firm Freedonia Group Inc., U.S. refinery chemical demand is expected to exceed US$7 billion in 2014 — a 5-percent overall expansion.

"Although refined-product output will likely decline through the period, demand for refinery chemicals will be supported by use of new, higher-value products that enhance performance," explain the editors of Oil & Gas Journal, who spotlighted the study findings in May.

In addition, Freedonia analysts predict that refiners will continue to subject their products to higher levels of chemical treatment in an effort to remove more impurities. "That trend will also support chemical demand in refineries," they contend.

The study finds that market gains will result primarily from above-average increases in the large merchant-hydrogen segment, due to rising use by refiners trying to supplement their captive hydrogen production. "Merchant hydrogen will remain the largest and fastest-growing product in the U.S. refinery chemical market," states a related Freedonia press release. Environmental regulations to reduce sulfur in fuels will continue to promote the use of hydrotreating, the largest application for merchant hydrogen, it continues.

Catalysts also account for a large share of the market and are commonly used in refining to improve energy efficiency and process productivity, as the Freedonia analysts point out. "Metal catalysts will maintain their position as the largest refinery catalyst type," they say. "Through 2014, these catalysts will provide the fastest gains in the catalyst segment."

Among conversion processes, Freedonia predicts hydrocracking — which benefits from its ability to boost production yields and increase refiner profitability — could also see considerable growth.

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Plastic Surgery Market

Plastic Surgery Market Provides Growth Opportunities, According to Survey

A recent global survey by Frost & Sullivan of hospitals and surgery centers providing plastic surgery, Growth Opportunities in the Global Plastic Surgery Market, shows plastic and cosmetic surgery continues to post some of the strongest procedural growth, year-over-year, of any surgical specialty.

This detailed, quantitative, global assessment finds significant growth in select procedures and shows how opportunities vary widely by country. Participants included more than 750 individuals — all of them either chiefs/heads of plastic or reconstructive surgery, plastic and reconstructive surgeons, administrators or nurses — in 15 countries. The research was conducted in public and private clinics and hospitals.

"Boosted by rising income levels in developing countries, medical tourism and growing cultural acceptance, plastic surgery is a critical segment for any company targeting the surgical market," explains Vice president of Customer Research Dan Colquhoun.

The survey highlights which countries represent the greatest opportunity for organizations in the plastic surgery market; which plastic surgery procedures represent the greatest opportunity; the number and identities of hospitals and clinics performing these procedures; and the degree of use of anesthesia and sedation in these procedures.

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The Chemical Sector and Women

Chemical Sector Becoming More Appealing to Women

In a May 2010 Industry Viewpoint column for ICIS Chemical Business, Detlef Prangenberg, Univar's vice president of human resources for Europe, Middle East and Africa, says diversity is key to attracting the best women candidates in an industry that has traditionally been male-dominated.

"Waiving the strictures of nationality, class, culture and gender is the solution to overcoming one of the biggest hurdles women encounter in the chemical industry, where historically men have done the buying, selling and producing," Prangenberg writes.

John van Osch, president of Univar Europe, Middle East and Africa, agrees that diversity attracts diversity. "Once 20 percent of your leadership team [comprises] women, you will naturally attract more women coming through," he states. "It's a mindset. You have to want to do it, and then you will. It needs to come from the top."

At Univar Europe, four of 12 individuals on the leadership team are women; there were none just one year ago. Looking at the chemical sector as a whole, Prangenberg and van Osch admit the gender balance remains tipped in favor of the male workforce — but, it is improving. In some countries, the balance is even toppling toward women in leadership roles.

In the Iberian region, for example, women hold two-thirds of the management roles, and 49 percent of Univar's staff there is female. Worldwide, of the new recruits who joined the organization between 2009 and 2010, two-thirds in Belgium were women, as were 55 percent in the United Kingdom and half in Central and Eastern Europe.

More details, plus career-success case studies of two women executives at Univar Europe, are available on the ICIS website.

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Green Standards for Chemicals

Green Product and Process Standard Being Developed for Chemical Industry

As reported in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), chemical companies are moving toward the development of a voluntary standard that enables raw-material suppliers, manufacturers, retail customers and policymakers to exchange data in a standard format on the environmental performance of chemical products and processes

"While there are other green standards with product eco-labels, they typically focus on specific attributes like volatile organic compound emissions, and they don't include the manufacturing process," writes C&EN Senior Editor Stephen R. Kitter. "Wal-Mart and Carrefour also have developed assessment tools and metrics, but they are limited to individual classes of chemicals or specific market segments."

Kitter goes on to cite several chemical-specific green initiatives, including:

  • The American Chemistry Council (ACC) — ACC members have already implemented initiatives to reduce emissions and energy use from their products and operations, and have reduced their carbon intensity by 36 percent.

  • American Chemical Society's Green Chemistry Institute (GCI) — This group created the Greener Chemical Products & Processes Standard, which will provide data that enable all stakeholders to evaluate the environmental performance of chemical products and their manufacturing technologies with third-party verification.

Additionally, several other green chemistry initiatives are currently in place, ranging from the Environmental Protection Agency's Design for the Environment (DfE) program, to green tools such as CleanGredients and Green Screen for Safer Chemicals.

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Feature Article

Preparing for Chemical Production Ramp-Up

While rates are low, be sure to put this three-phase plan into action.

By Joe Bonem

In the industrial world, production ramp-ups generally don't go smoothly. Organizational efficiency is often lacking. Inventory is held to a minimum to reduce working capital. Equipment often runs at less-than-full capacity. As a result, when economic recessions come to an end and orders begin pouring in, the manufacturing process cannot adequately ramp up capacity. This manifests in a host of problems, ranging from inventory-control issues surrounding raw materials and products, to inadequate equipment performance, to operating errors. Remedying these complications requires problem-solving skills and careful analysis of operations. All too often, however, no systematic analysis is conducted.

As a response, use a three-phased approach to solving engineering problems:

Phase 1: Each branch of an organization should have a daily monitoring system.
Phase 2: When problems arise, use a disciplined (not intuitive), learned (not inherited) problem-solving approach.
Phase 3: Realize that not all problems require the same level of technical depth to find a solution.

Whether the problems are operating errors, equipment limitations or inventory issues, I believe this approach is applicable and useful.

Phase 1: The Daily Monitoring System

The daily monitoring system is a means to focus on critical variables. Each critical variable should have a set trigger at which point, if exceeded, a predetermined plan of action is initiated. For example, if a heat exchanger is a critical piece of equipment, the heat-transfer coefficient — a measure of the efficiency of the exchanger performance — can be monitored on a daily basis, with an appropriate trigger point assigned. This will allow the manufacturing management team to determine when it needs to be cleaned. If this monitoring is done on a daily basis, management will know prior to attempting to ramp up production that the exchanger needs to be cleaned, even when operating rates are below full capacity.

While many companies have cut made significant staffing cutbacks in recent years, it might be necessary to increase resources to allow for the development of the daily monitoring system. The deployment of these resources prior to ramping up production will have two advantages: 1) It will provide the resources to begin to develop a daily monitoring system, and 2) it will allow these resources to train during a time of low stress.

In a more typical ramp-up, attempts are made to increase production rates, only to find out that this critical exchanger is dirty. This situation is not detected because, at the reduced activity rates, the lower heat-transfer coefficient was considered adequate. Usually, this is only remedied by shutting down production and cleaning the heat exchanger. This likely occurs at a time when sales are increasing. Another issue is that inventory would need to be increased to maintain a constant inventory-to-sales volume. Obviously, this results in inventory-control problems, as well as lost sales.

Had the coefficient been monitored daily, the lower-than-acceptable heat-transfer coefficient would have been detected even before the ramp-up in production was required. The exchanger could have been cleaned during a period of reduced production, with minimal impact on sales and inventory.

This is just one example of a whole multitude of very common equipment-related ramp-up problems.

Phase 2: A Disciplined, Learned Approach

Even with an effective daily monitoring system in place, unexpected problems are bound to arise as production is increased. These problems are often resolved using either intuitive logic or experienced-based approaches, neither of which is the most effective method.

Instead, use this five-step approach for effective problem-solving:

Step 1: Verify that the problem actually occurred. Communication in the business world — whether in an operating or supply management environment — can get garbled. Sometimes, as a result, the problem seems either nonexistent, or radically different than first described.

Step 2: Write an accurate statement of the problem you are trying to solve. The "power of the pen" forces one to think about and articulate an accurate statement of the problem.

When crafting this statement, answer the following questions:

  • What happened?
  • When did it happen?
  • Where did it happen?
  • What was the magnitude of the problem?
  • What else happened at the same time, or shortly before?
  • What actions are you planning to use to resolve the problem, if any?

Step 3: Develop a theoretically sound working hypothesis that details as many specifications of the problem as possible. If the hypothesis isn't regarded as theoretically sound, brainstorming meetings can degrade into contests to see who can develop the largest number of possibilities, without consideration for their feasibility.

Step 4: Provide a mechanism to test the hypothesis. The hypothesis can be tested with mathematical models or actual plant tests. Just remember: A test that disproves the hypothesis is just as valid as one that proves it.

Step 5: Recommend remedial action to eliminate the problem, without creating another problem. This step often requires the use of a potential problem analysis to determine if future problems might be created by using the proposed remedial action.

Phase 3: Assessing the Required Technical Depth

One of the most difficult aspects of problem-solving is the knowledge of what technical depth is required to work a problem. In an industrial environment, some might be tempted to "shoot from the hip" to eradicate a problem, and then move on to the next problem. However, that technique often only provides temporarily relief from a problem that will resurface.

Unfortunately, outside of academic circles, there is rarely sufficient time to work the problem in great detail. Although selecting the optimum technical depth is too involved a process to outline here, there are some possible approaches presented in Process Engineering Problem Solving Process Engineering Problem Solving.

Putting It All Into Practice

Using the three-phased plan outlined in this article — as well as more in-depth resources for determining technical depth — will provide a smooth ramp-up when the economy rebounds. This is true whether you're working in a manufacturing, sales or supply management environment.

Joe Bonem is the author of Process Engineering Problem Solving and a manufacturing/engineering consultant with a degree in chemical engineering. For more than 35 years, he worked as an engineer for ExxonMobil Chemical. To contact this author, send an e-mail to author@ism.ws.

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Market Report

Budgeting for the New Normal

By Paul Hodges

Last October, a post on my Chemicals and the Economy blog at ICIS.com, and a correlating white paper (Budgeting for a New Normal), set out my belief that the current downturn — as with those of the early 1980s and 1990s — was acting as a period of transition. I argued that we might experience a new normal as the global economy recovered, rather than a return to the previous boom period of 2003-2007.

To follow up on this assertion, in the June 2010 update, I began by looking at the current state of the global economy. Then, I covered the outlooks for key chemical markets (including autos), as well as summarizing the latest outlook statements expressed by chemical companies themselves.

Global Chemical Companies Production Improving — But at 2007 Levels

Global Chemical Production Back at Q4 2006 Levels

The above chart is based on recent American Chemistry Council (ACC) data from March 2010. It shows that production growth had indeed begun to return in the second half of last year. The diamond-dotted dark blue line represents the global picture, and indicates that demand bottomed in Q1 last year, and then began to rebound as destocking was replaced by restocking down the value chain.

North America — the epicenter of the crisis — saw production severely restricted by the downturn in key automotive and housing markets. This was in spite of the double-benefit provided by falling prices for gas feedstock supplies, and by strong export demand to Asia. Total chemical production was only at 90 percent of 2007's level.

Underlying these differing regional performances is one worrying statistic: Overall, production was back at the same level as at the end of 2006. The growth seen in 2007 and the first half of 2008 had disappeared. And, in spite of all the stimulus programs, the world was not seeing a V-shaped recovery that would have shown demand was rebounding to the pre-crisis level.

Auto Sales Have Been Boosted by Stimulus Measures

The automotive industry -along with housing — has been one of governments' main targets in its efforts to stimulate the economy. Almost every country that could afford a program has adopted one, usually adding a green spin to it by focusing on the replacement of older, less-efficient autos.

Consumers have taken up these offers in relatively strong numbers. In the U.S., sales revived to around 1 million/month in the July-August 2009 period as a result of the government's US$3-billion spend. Even so, total 2009 volumes were just 10.4 million, which equates to $31 billion of chemical sales (based on the ACC estimate of $2,973 per auto). This compares with a $15-million to $17-million market between 1995 and 2007, worth between $45 billion and $50 billion at today's value.

New Passenger Car Registrations in the EU - Last 12 Months

The above chart, which was produced by the European Auto Manufacturers Association (ACEA), shows a similar pattern for European Union auto sales. The white columns represent 2010 sales by month, with the dark blue columns showing 2009 sales, and 2008 sales in light blue. The chart indicates that volumes began to recover in Q2 2009, as the German government launched its €2.5k-per-auto incentive scheme in advance of September's election.

Other countries then followed, providing major support for total EU sales through to Q1 2010. U.K. sales in March, for example, were the largest in the EU at 400k, in advance of May's general election. In the chart shown above, the red line indicates month-by-month performance as a percentage of the year earlier, and this clearly peaked in Q4 2009. April and May 2010 have seen major declines. And, Germany's performance highlights the dependence on stimulus, with May 2010 sales down 35 percent versus 2009.

Hungary, however, provides an interesting insight into what might have happened more generally, in the absence of stimulus spending. Hungary was not able to afford such a program; in fact, the country had to increase sales tax (VAT) to help finance its deficit. As a result, auto sales collapsed: They were down 53 percent in March 2010, with total sales of just 4,371 autos in a country of 10 million people.

Oil and Oil Products Inventories at High Levels

The risk caused by higher oil prices at a time of low demand growth is due to the behavior of financial investors. They have continued to bid up the price of crude oil, even though actual stocks of oil and oil products have reached multi-year highs around the world. Financial investors are convinced that a rapid V-shaped recovery is underway. As such, they underestimate the risk of allowing stocks to build so much ahead of demand.

Absolute Stock of Crude+Gasoline+Dist+Kero

The above chart shows 2010 stocks (red line) of crude, gasoline, distillate and kerosene on a weekly basis in the United States. They totaled 780,000 barrels in early June 2010, and are even higher than in 2009 (light blue), when destocking severely reduced demand. And, they are much higher than in 2008 (yellow) or other recent years.

The problem is that the trading in financial markets has been greatly influenced by the entry of pension funds and others, who believe commodities such as oil offer a low-risk way to diversify their investments. But, higher prices in commodities and stock markets are, in fact, two sides of the same coin: Both depend on real demand emerging, as government support is withdrawn.

Crude oil demand in 2009 was — like chemical demand — reduced to 2006 levels. So, in the absence of geopolitical disruption, it could easily be several years before we once again have a tight supply/demand balance in oil markets.

Meanwhile, high oil prices will simply reduce chemical demand, as consumers will have less discretionary cash to spend after paying for essentials such as heating and transport costs.

The Overall Economic Outlook: Proceed With Caution

As I wrote in my October 2009 blog and white paper, I predict exchange rates will continue to be very volatile, making planning difficult. I also foresee continued volatility for other financial markets (including commodities such as oil), particularly if the recent U.S. stock market rally gives way to a further downtrend.

If I am right in predicting an extended downturn, then we must accept that we will also have to live with continued uncertainty. This, then, places a premium on building flexibility into our plans, and testing them against potential alternative outcomes.

The chemical industry is a cyclical business, and it usually has seasonal cycles within its longer-term cycles. Unfortunately, then — although I would like to believe that the first half of 2010 will prove the start of a sustained recovery — I fear it is more likely that it will represent a temporary respite from the longer-term downtrend.

To download Hodges' complete 23-page white paper, visit the ICIS website. An interview with Hodges about "the new normal" is also available on YouTube.

Paul Hodges has worked in the chemical industry for 30 years, including 17 years with ICI, where he held senior-executive positions in petrochemicals and chloralkali and was executive director of a $US1-billion ICI business. He founded International eChem in 1995, writes the ICIS Chemicals and the Economy blog and has been recognized in the Financial Times for his success in correctly forewarning of the global financial crisis. To contact this author, send an e-mail to author@ism.ws.

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Extreme Sourcing: A No-Cost Web Seminar Devoted to Next-Generation Savings

On July 29, 2010, at 11 a.m. EDT/8 a.m. PDT, join Heinz Schäffer, CPO of multi-billion-dollar AXA Group, as he recalls his journey of elevating AXA to the next level of sourcing and procurement success. In this 60-minute web seminar, Heinz will share his vision and proven strategies for leveraging organizations and breaking down traditional barriers to:

  • Deliver millions in sourcing savings
  • Provide measurable efficiency improvements
  • Reduce supplier risk
  • Engage active Finance and AP support.

Besides Schäffer, John Lark, senior product manager for Ariba, will be a featured speaker.

Attendance of the live session of this web seminar qualifies for one Continuing Education Hour (CEH) credit at ISM. Time is running out, so register online.

It's Time to Resubscribe to eDigest: Chemicals E-Newsletter! (Deadline Extended)

If you haven't already done so, you can ensure you keep receiving eDigest: Chemicals by taking a moment to re-subscribe by the extended deadline of Monday, August 2, 2010.

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If you have any questions or encounter any problems, please contact RaeAnn Slaybaugh.

Utility Purchasing Management Group Conference Rapidly Approaching

Mark your calendar to attend the Utility Purchasing Management Group's (UPMG) 79th Annual Educational Conference September 26-28, 2010 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego. Attendees will expand their business connections and find new strategies to protect their companies from previously unknown threats.

UPMG is affiliated with ISM.

For the complete day-by-day schedule of events, plus online registration, log on to the UPMG website.

ISM to Hold Sustainability & Social Responsibility Conference November 4-5, 2010

Discover how top leaders in supply management are implementing the numerous concepts of sustainability. Register online now for the 3rd Annual ISM Sustainability and Social Responsibility Conference, on November 4-5, 2010 at Disney's Yacht Club Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Presented by Institute for Supply Management™ (ISM), the conference features cream-of-the-crop presenters from multinational companies, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and the legal field:

  • Cathy A. Rodgers, IBM vice president, global business development, IBM Global Services, chair of ISM Sustainability and Social Responsibility Committee
  • Mark Snyderman, senior knowledge leader, LRN
  • Joan N. Kerr, M.S.W., J.D., director, supplier diversity/development, Pacific Gas & Electric Company
  • Rennie Alston, president, American River International, Ltd.
  • Richard Z. Donovan, senior vice president and vice president of forestry division, Rainforest Alliance
  • Randy Watson, partner, A.T. Kearney, Inc.
  • Ben R. Jordan, director, supplier sustainability, global procurement & trading, The Coca-Cola Company
  • Michael A. Levine, shareholder, Epstein, Becker & Green, PC
  • DeLynne Ano, director, supplier diversity & sustainability, The Walt Disney Company
  • Regina O. Edwards, J.D., director, supply chain compliance, MeadWestvaco
  • Drew Schramm, senior vice president, global supply management, Herman Miller, Inc
  • Judy Baranowski, AlixPartners, LLP.

The one-and-a half day program offers nine educational sessions, including two panel discussions. Thursday's panel discussion, "Corporate Responsibility Challenges of the Global Leader in Licensing," promises unique insights from The Walt Disney Company team members who will provide firsthand perspectives on issues being faced by global manufacturers.

Registration costs US$795 for ISM members, $995 for nonmembers and $250 for ISM student members. Fees include all workshops and scheduled meals. Team discounts and student rates are available. Visit the ISM website for the full agenda, and to register.

In addition to the Sustainability and Social Responsibility Conference, ISM will hold a pre-conference seminar on November 2-3, 2010: "Sustainability and Social Responsibility for Supply Professionals." Pre-conference fees are US$1,295 for ISM members and $1,595 for nonmembers. Attend both programs and save $200 off the registration fee for the complete package.

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Additional Resources

A Wealth of Information at www.ism.ws

Visit ISM's website, www.ism.ws, for more supply management resources. The site provides published articles, conference presentations and reference materials that pertain to supply managers in all industries. Here are some items that might be of interest:

  • A June 2010 Inside Supply Management® article, Leading by Example, profiles Anthony S. Nieves, C.P.M., A.P.P., CFPM, who recently received ISM's greatest honor: the J. Shipman Gold Medal Award. Nieves is senior vice president — supply management for Hilton Worldwide. Like Johnson Shipman, for whom the award is named, Nieves' "modest, unselfish, sincere and persistent efforts for the advancement of purchasing and supply management" are recognized and admired by ISM members and volunteers, colleagues at Hilton Worldwide and the larger business community.

  • An article in the latest edition of ISM's eSide Supply Management e-magazine — When Big Isn't Always Best — talks about why selecting the right supplier should be based on much more than size. It contends that providing numerical scoring of predefined categories sometimes misses the more important question: Is this really the best supplier for your organization?

  • Today's High Achievers Equal Tomorrow's Future Leaders — an article appearing in the June 2010 edition of ISM's monthly print magazine — spotlights seven students, representing six leading universities, who recently received the 2010 R. Gene Richter Scholarships awarded by the R. Gene Richter and Nancy D. Richter Foundation and the ISM R. Gene Richter Scholarship Fund.

  • According to Becoming a Sustainability Champion — From the Middle Up (which appeared in the May/June 2010 edition of eSide), junior executives and midlevel managers actually make the best candidates for this role. For the first of a two-part series, eSide interviewed Bob Willard, sustainability guru and author of The Sustainability Champion's Guidebook, to find out what makes an effective sustainability champion, regardless of where he or she stands on the company ladder.

  • Another June 2010 Inside Supply Management® article, Find Value in Supplier Assist, examines why — regardless of an organization's size — supporting a supplier in need is the epitome of being a supply chain partner. At The Boeing Company, this is called "supplier assist."

  • Around the World: Doing Business in Mexico (a recent eSide article) offers a collection of business-etiquette tips for the supply management professional whose job takes him or her to this low-cost-country sourcing destination.

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Contact Us

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