David Reed: Business Alum’s Efforts Recognized by US Dept. of Commerce

David Reed (Class of ’94, B.S., international business), director of international sales for Amarr Garage Doors, traveled to Washington D.C. in May to accept the United States Department of Commerce Presidential E-Award being presented to Amarr for its growing export sales, which is seen as having a positive impact on jobs creation in the U.S. Reed develops and manages all tactical and strategic plans related to international operations for the company, which is based in Winston-Salem, N.C.

David Reed (Class of ’94, B.S., international business, second from left) and Richard Brenner, owner and CEO of Amarr Garage Doors, accepted the Presidential E-Award from the U.S. Department of Commerce in May. L-R: Former Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, Reed, Brenner, and Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco J. Sanchez. Courtesy of David Reed

“As a nation, we all have a lot of hard work ahead of us before we can claim victory in setting the US economy in right direction,” says Reed, who lives with his family in Houston, Tex. “It gives me great pleasure to know that after years of hard work and personal sacrifice, my efforts have had a positive impact on the creation of American jobs.”

As a student at CSU Dominguez Hills, Reed realized that part of his preparation for the job market was learning to take initiative. With the advent of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), he observed the opening of global markets and foresaw the need for American business to take root abroad, setting his sights on Mexico.

“Once I realized this opportunity, I planned my course curriculum and focused my energy on reading and learning everything that I could about international business, from finance and accounting to marketing and management,” says Reed. “I also had to learn Spanish, and CSU Dominguez Hills had some great professors that not only taught me Spanish, but exposed me to the Hispanic culture.”

Introducing Amarr products to Mexico was a challenge. In 1994, when he began his career with the company, the market for U.S.-style overhead garage doors in that country was served by local blacksmiths who built artisanal gates, doors, and roll-up service doors. He says that finding the right local distributors to partner with was critical to building Amarr’s foreign market, beginning with extensive research to understand what products were already being used and what potential customers wanted.

“Once I understood the history and had a general understanding of the major players in the market, I began to build a plan and narrow my focus in the distributor selection process,” says Reed. “It’s important to note that this is not an easy process and cultural preferences do not change overnight. If a distributor is able to gain a market leadership position with your product, they will begin the process of changing culture and preferences on a local level.”

Reed says that his first assignment to Mexico was an eye-opener. It was his first experience out of college in a real-life business situation, with the responsibility of developing and adapting  business processes and products, and developing new customers for a new market.

“This was real money and I was the one setting the direction—talking to lawyers, accountants, freight forwarders, union leaders, customers, and employees,” recalls Reed. “This was Amarr’s first international subsidiary, so I had no standard operating procedure manual.

“After five years in Mexico, I had built a nice little multi-million dollar business. But more importantly, I had proven myself and gained trust among my peers.”

Following this success, Reed established a wood door production plant in Mexico. He also began to expand the company’s distribution network and sales in new markets around the world in more than 40 countries. His accomplishments include developing a formal export business unit from the company’s manufacturing facility in Lawrence, Kan., opening the first European distribution center in Budapest, Hungary, opening a marketing outpost in Beijing, China, and opening numerous distribution centers throughout Mexico in Guadalajara, Mexicali, Morelia, Tijuana, Monterrey and Aguascalientes.

Reed credits his wife Marisol, a native of Mazatlan, and the leadership at Amarr with providing the keys to his success and professional development. He also says that his education at CSU Dominguez Hills prepared him well to work with a diversity of cultures and governments.

“The student body and faculty were made up of a very culturally diverse group of people,” he says. “Their experiences and insight made learning about international business a lot of fun. I realized that I had to ask good questions and learn as much as I could from my peers.”

Reed thanks Jenner, a professor of management, and Dr. Raul Romero, his Spanish professor, for their impact on his education at CSU Dominguez Hills.

“Dr. Jenner’s strategic management class was challenging and very insightful,” says Reed. “His personal business experience in Mexico moved me to action, which ultimately led me to live out a dream and create a successful business [there]. Dr. Romero taught me to communicate in Spanish [and to] ignore feelings of embarrassment and not be afraid of making a mistake. Because of him, doors of opportunity opened up and I now have hundreds of personal friends and business associates throughout the world. I am truly blessed and grateful to have known these two men. Muchas gracias!”

In order to give back in the same way that mentoring enhanced his education at CSU Dominguez Hills, Reed is a volunteer presenter and instructor for the International Door Association (IDA), which strives for professional development among garage door dealers worldwide. He has completed multiple extended-education certificate programs at the University of Texas at Austin and the American Management Association including fundamentals of marketing, financial analysis and mergers and acquisitions. He consults with dealers on a variety of topics ranging from building business plans, improving profitability to the technical aspects of the garage door.

“Whether it’s an IDA member or an Amarr dealer, I’m willing to help them improve their business,” says Reed. “Most garage door businesses are blue-collar, family-owned operations [that] lack back room administrative resources. They don’t have access to a board of advisors to lean on for support, so that’s where I come in. I don’t claim to be an expert in all areas of the business, but I am willing to listen, share my experience and assist them to avoid unnecessary pitfalls and build a long-term, successful business.”

He says that his education at CSU Dominguez Hills was an excellent foundation for his belief that “we never stop learning.”

“My education and preparation at CSU Dominguez Hills was fundamental in landing my job upon completing my undergraduate work,” he says. “[My professors] provided a learning environment that was conducive to building my business skill sets and exposed me to a host of different cultures. Upon graduation I felt excited and prepared to take on the world. I had gained vital business skills, an ability to speak in another language and a piece of paper to prove my accomplishments. In short, I had gained something that no one could ever take from me – knowledge. Once I had built my academic foundation and it was up to me to apply myself, experience life, and continue my learning process.”