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Going global: Finlandia business students assist local engineering firm

May 10, 2022
BUS 388 Global Entrepreneurship

Pictured from left to right: Steve Bethel, Dmitri Samusev, Austin Cover and River Shumate.

For small Chassell, Michigan-based Leadfoot Engineering, the global marketplace holds great potential. The company, which designs and produces quality high-performance engine pistons, is interested in becoming a global player in the small but lucrative niche market. End users for their pistons include powerboat racing teams and other boating enthusiasts looking for speed and performance.

This spring, a group of BUS 388 Global Entrepreneurship students worked with Steve Bethel, president of Leadfoot Engineering, to analyze the European and Arab Gulf States markets for the company’s product line. The four-student project team was composed of Austin Cover, a junior in Management & Entrepreneurship, River Shumate, a senior in Marketing, and International Business majors Dmitri Samusev and Philip Schader, both juniors.

The project’s focus included analyzing the German, French, Spanish, Italian, Nordic (Norway, Sweden and Finland) and the United Arab Emirates markets. For each country, the students identified major regional trade fairs, powerboat and boating associations, and major U.S. Commercial Service contacts.

According to junior Dimitri Samusev, “Doing the research on international markets for Leadfoot Engineering was very beneficial since we learned how to analyze target markets in foreign countries and create solutions on how to be more successful selling our products in that specific market. The hands-on aspect of the project really helped out and gave me more knowledge and experience on how to successfully import products into other countries.”

One of the project’s highlights was a Zoom meeting in March with Senior International Trade Specialist Eve Lerman from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Paul Vandevert from Vandevert Trade Law, and Chris Bosio from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. During the meeting, Leadfoot’s President Steve Bethel, Finlandia instructor Kevin Manninen and his student project team were able to ask specific questions regarding their internationalization plan. The Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) also provided the students with a list of online resources. Philip Schader commented that “getting a chance to speak with professionals in the field was definitely helpful in order to find the right tools that could assist us during this project.”

The students visited Leadfoot and met with Steve Bethel to present their findings and recommendations to conclude the project.

“This was really good work and we’ll definitely benefit from it. It gives us a nice platform to work from in order to take the next steps,” Bethel said.

Schader, one of the project’s International Business majors, concluded, “I really enjoyed this experience and it was great to use some of the concepts we learned during this course in a real-world environment.”

The Global Entrepreneurship course at Finlandia focuses on preparing students to assist small and medium-sized enterprises in going global. The course is a requirement for the International Business major. For more information, check out finlandia.edu/internationalbusiness.

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Article provided by Finlandia University International School of Business.

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