On February 24, 2009, the Columbia Finance Organization (CFO) sponsored a talk by Hans L. Pohlschroeder, vice president, treasury, at Colgate-Palmolive Company, a global company with a strong international financial presence. Mr. Pohlschroeder drew on his extensive background in international markets to discuss how to successfully manage international financial risk at a large organization.
Although many people might think of Colgate-Palmolive as an American company, this is far from the case. Although Colgate-Palmolive is headquartered in New York, it operates in 218 countries. Colgate-Palmolive is perhaps one of the most international U.S.-based companies of its size, with approximately 80 percent of its sales outside the United States.
As Hans Pohlschroeder explained, Colgate-Palmolive has been an international company almost since inception. Originally, the company had full-scale manufacturing operations in many different countries around the world, because high tariffs made it more cost-effective to produce locally.
However, trade liberalization over the past few decades has lowered the barriers to trade and created an environment where it is more cost-effective to centralize manufacturing and production. This trend has been augmented by technological increases that make it easier to produce large quantities of product in one manufacturing location. As a result, Colgate-Palmolive has transformed itself into an integrated global manufacturing chain, which in turn has helped lower costs and keep Colgate-Palmolive competitive and profitable.