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Boots (and Brains) on the Ground

Michigan-based Acme Manufacturing delivers complex material removal solutions to global markets through a strong presence on the ground. AMT’s Global Tech Centers have provided proxy hires and tech support to help Acme boost their international presence.
Jul 01, 2021

Sometimes the best business strategy is pretty simple: Show up. When a face on a screen just won’t do, you need boots (and brains) on the ground. 

Acme Manufacturing provides complex material removal solutions, including robotic metal finishing and precision centerless grinding, for clients around the globe. A fourth-generation family operated business based in Auburn Hills, Michigan, Acme is led by President & CEO G.A. “Fritz” Carlson III.  

Acme has a research and development center in Singapore that focuses on solutions for the company’s Southeast Asian and aerospace customers. However, they have additional customers around the globe who need direct service and support. That’s where AMT’s Tech Centers come into play.

Acme Manufacturing Company’s R&D center in Singapore. Acme Manufacturing Company’s R&D center in Singapore.

Acme first began working with AMT’s Shanghai Technology and Service Center (STC) more than 10 years ago. They had a client who was commissioning a robotic cell and needed extensive customer support. STC found a mechanic and a robotic programmer who work exclusively for Acme. “Having an AMT resource on the ground in China has been essential to our ongoing success,” Carlson noted.

The STC employees who were hired as proxy hires are still representing Acme more than a decade later. The proxy hire program is the most-utilized service of AMT’s Tech Centers in China, Mexico, and India. The program allows AMT members to have local employees – who speak the language and know the markets – without forming a foreign entity. AMT handles all salary, benefits, taxes, and expenses via an escrow account. 

After their success in China, Acme set its sights on Mexico. It had an aerospace client who needed ongoing in-person support. AMT’s Monterrey Technology Center (MTC) was ready to help. They found and hired a group of technicians who traveled to Michigan to train for three weeks at the Acme headquarters before returning to Mexico to provide service to Acme’s newest client. 

 Acme Manufacturing Company’s R&D center in Singapore.  Acme Manufacturing Company’s R&D center in Singapore.

Demand for Acme’s unique solutions in industries ranging from aerospace to automotive and from medical devices to firearms continues to increase. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, the company remained open as an essential business and continued to pursue new opportunities – albeit without the normal travel for Carlson and other executives.  

Being unable to travel throughout the pandemic further highlighted the importance of having people on the ground who can provide service and support to clients, Carlson explained. “AMT’s support through their Global Tech Centers makes us much more attractive to potential customers,” he concluded. “The Tech Centers give us more bandwidth in terms of service and support and strengthen our overall customer-centric solutions.”

Acme certainly has their collective boots planted firmly on international soil.  


5 Tips for Going Global

  1. Be Bold. If you have a product or process that is unique or can help boost operations globally, consider international markets. Don’t be afraid to cross boundaries (both geographic and business).

  2. Be Informed. Research first. In almost every sector, there are untapped global markets for your products. AMT’s strategic analytics department can help members identify new customers in emerging markets with custom research

  3. Be Open to Help. If you find an international market worth pursuing, get help to get started. AMT’s Global Tech Centers help members access foreign markets, create a strong presence, hire local employees, and provide in-person tech support to customers.

  4. Be Present. Having local employees and service technicians makes it easier to find, retain, and satisfy customers. Satisfied customers lead to referrals.

  5. Be Committed. Don’t go halfway. If you are going to attempt global expansion, commit to it, support it, and celebrate it.


AMT extends condolences to all at Acme Manufacturing Company for the passing of Glen Carlson Jr., Acme's Retired Chairman Emeritus. Glen worked at Acme for 58 years managing and directing manufacturing operations, sales and further advancing as vice president, president, and chairman, retiring in 2016. He was the third generation Carlson family member to own and operate the automation machinery engineering and manufacturing business and was highly recognized and respected internationally as an industry leader in metal finishing automation machinery.

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Christy Brudin
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