Gordon Krater

Managing Partner, Plante & Moran, Southfield

DB: Where are you?

GK: I’m at our Chicago office. Like a lot of companies, we’re very focused on strategic planning, so we’re going through our plans to grow and expand as it relates to our work in accounting and tax work for a variety of industries, [such as] manufacturing, distribution, real estate, construction, and financial institutions.

DB: How is Chicago different from Detroit?

GK: The business atmosphere is a little more upbeat, but part of that is because Chicago is just a bigger market. The business community here is watching the Detroit Three automakers closely, and everyone is concerned about the overall U.S. economy. We do see growth in health care and the service industry, and many of our clients are looking at overseas expansions or outsourcing.

DB: Do you raise the caution flag on any foreign projects?

GK: If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be doing our job. Overseas expansions and outsourcing makes sense for many companies, but in some parts of the world, it can be difficult to get good information on workforce practices, employment skills, and many other key data. Our job is to separate fact from fiction and wade through the maze of information to arrive at a balanced decision.

DB: In some cases, might it be more advantageous for domestic companies to stay in the U.S.?

GK: Yes, and it’s our job to let our clients know that. Still, we have 25 people overseas in Shanghai and in Monterrey, Mexico. We also plan to open an office in Mumbai, India. More and more, our international people are being asked to look at low-cost strategies to grow a client’s business or cut their costs. But every country has its own set of business practices, and eventually you come to understand what’s needed.