Archive for the ‘Success Stories’ Category

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Making the Most of International Trade Shows

July 25, 2014

Arun Kumar is the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Global Markets and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service.

The International Trade Administration Commercial Service team may be the most connected business partners you will ever have. Our specialists are export experts, giving your business advice on potential trade partners, ways to market your company, and how to successfully export.

Now our Commercial Service team is making it even easier to succeed in exporting through an exciting video series called Export Experts. This series will provide information on trade shows, tips for exporting to rural areas, international exporting advice, and so much more.

The first video of this series is about making the most of international trade shows, which can be great opportunities to meet lots of different people in one place. They can be efficient and beneficial events for any company looking to expand to new markets.

Here are some tips about trade shows that we as commercial service officers have learned through our years of exporting assistance.

  1. Go prepared. Know your product, understand your client base, be professional. You are at a trade show to create connections with people that could become your business partners. Making a good impression is key, so know your stuff.
  2. Be interactive. One great way to stand out is to have something that attracts people to your booth. Whether it be a video or a product demonstration, keep people engaged.
  3. Make connections. You are there to meet new people, and form potential partnerships, not just to sell your product. If your company can help another company make money, you will always be in business.
  4. Follow up, and follow through. Probably the most important thing to do after a trade show is reconnect with the people you met. The only way to create these lasting business relationships is to stay connected to the people you meet.

Commercial Service officers are here to help you succeed in expanding your business. We have various tools and ideas to prepare you and maximize your time at trade shows. Contact your nearest Export Assistance Center today to find out about upcoming trade shows and how to succeed in the global marketplace.

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U.S.-Africa Business Success Stories: How a Texas Oil Company Started Doing Business in Cameroon and Morocco

July 23, 2014

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

The geographic distance between Texas-based Arnold Oil Company and Sub-Saharan Africa may be thousands of miles, but their economic relationship has never been closer. U.S. businesses like the Arnold Oil Company are increasingly finding economic opportunity in Sub-Saharan Africa: between 2001 to 2012, U.S. trade to sub-Saharan Africa tripled from $6.9 billion to $22.5 billion dollars. Africa is now home to six of the top ten fastest growing economies in the world, leading President Obama to call sub-Saharan Africa the “world’s next major economic success story.” That is why the Department of Commerce is working to facilitate and advocate for American businesses in this growing region, and U.S. firms are eager to help unlock even more of Africa’s economic potential.

A family-owned supplier of automotive and oil lubricant products, the Arnold Oil Company became interested in expanding its business abroad. They met with the U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC) in Austin to request assistance in developing an exporting and marketing plan for their products. After creating a plan that satisfied the company, the USEAC arranged for a meeting with a representative from the U.S. Export-Import Bank to assist the Arnold Oil Company with financing its exports.

But the USEAC took its assistance one step further, introducing the Arnold Oil Company to a buyer in Cameroon, who eventually was signed as a distributer. As a result of this relationship, the Arnold Oil Company was able to ship their first exports of oil lubricants to Morocco, generating revenue of more than $24,000 in 2013. With assistance from the USEAC, the Arnold Oil Company was able to expand its business into one of the most economically dynamic regions in the world.

In 2012, the Commerce Department launched the Doing Business in Africa Campaign to help U.S. businesses, like the Arnold Oil Company, take advantage of the many export and investment opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa. As part of the campaign, Commerce has expanded trade promotion programs tailored toward Africa and dedicated an online Africa business portal to direct businesses to federal resources. In addition, on August 5, the Department of Commerce and Bloomberg Philanthropies will co-host the U.S.-Africa Business Forum, a day focused on strengthening trade and financial ties between the United States and Africa.  The Forum will be attended by President Obama, Secretary Pritzker, Mayor Bloomberg, and other senior U.S. government officials. The U.S.-Africa Business Forum will intensify efforts to strengthen trade and financial ties between the United States and Africa and seek to create partnerships that will promote trade, accelerate job growth, and encourage investment. These efforts are helping American businesses expand and enter the global market for the first time, and the Department of Commerce remains committed to helping create more exporting success stories.

Businesses interested in learning more about the benefits of exporting should contact their local U.S. Export Assistance Center.

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Recognizing Those Supporting American Exports

May 28, 2014

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Ken Hyatt is the Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade.

Icelantic Skis was one of 65 companies and organizations recognized by Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker with a President's E Award for supporting U.S. exports.

Icelantic Skis was one of 65 companies and organizations recognized by Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker with a President’s E Award for supporting U.S. exports. You can find more photos on our Facebook page.

We at the Department of Commerce produce a lot of numbers, but we always try to see behind the export numbers into what they create – jobs, growth, and development.

It was easy to see behind the numbers today, as I joined Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker to recognize and congratulate 65 companies and organizations that have supported the expansion of U.S. exports.

These companies and organizations earned the 2014 President’s E Awards, the highest honor bestowed upon those that are committed to expanding the U.S. economy through exports.

The awardees include an assortment of small and medium-sized businesses in a variety of states and business sectors. From Kansas-based Pioneer Balloon Company to California-based Robinson Pharma, both of which have expanded their exports with support from U.S. government agencies including the Department of Commerce.

Then there are organizations like the Global Commerce Council of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, which provides counseling, training, and networking opportunities to support Atlanta-area businesses looking to succeed overseas. This kind of support is crucial to businesses looking to expand their global presence.

There are 62 other companies and organizations that earned the President’s E Award, each and every one of which is working hard to make international trade a part of the DNA of American business.

I was honored to be a part of today’s ceremony, as I am continually honored to be a part of our nation’s growing commitment to international trade.

Congratulations to each and every company and organization recognized today, and thanks to every other American business, chamber of commerce, trade organization, World Trade Center, and other entities that are supporting U.S. businesses.

All of us at the Department of Commerce look forward to another year of more American companies competing and succeeding overseas, and to recognizing the businesses and organizations who exemplify the American commitment to global business during the next year.

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Transport Company Drives U.S. Service Exports

May 23, 2014

Doug Barry is a Senior International Trade Specialist in the International Trade Administration’s Global Knowledge Center.

U.S. exports of services topped $682 billion in 2013, up $50 billion from 2012. As we explained in a recent blog post, service exports come from a number of industries, from medicine to law.

One other important contributor is transportation services, like those provided by Virginia-based MV Global Transport, which organizes bus and other kinds of transportation for some of the most exciting events you’ve seen around the world.

The company got into global business with help from the International Trade Administration’s (ITA) Commercial Service, and now relies on international sales for 100 percent of its revenue.

Brad Kurtz, the company’s president, recently shared his company’s story with Doug Barry of ITA’s Global Knowledge Center.

Barry: You have some pretty impressive clients.

Kurtz: We provide special event transportation for large events all around the world. We have been fortunate enough to support the Olympics – in Salt Lake, Vancouver, as well as in London.

Barry: How did you get into international business?

Kurtz: We got in through the U.S. Commercial Service. They assisted us with work in Doha (Qatar) for the Asian games in 2006 and then also down in South Africa for the World Cup with introductions through their office there.

Barry: How did they do the introduction?

Kurtz: We were invited to a number of networking functions. They brought in the South African Football Delegation into Washington, D.C., and we had the opportunity to meet with them. From there they helped us further along our negotiations and assisted us while we were in South Africa.

Barry: How important has exporting been to your bottom line?

Kurtz: It’s the only way we have survived. Being a service industry, it’s difficult. You have the emerging markets, you have new markets. How do you know where to find the business? With the expertise and industry knowledge of the U.S. government, it’s been instrumental in helping us.

Barry: What percentage of your revenues is international now?

Kurtz: Currently, it’s 100 percent. I would have to say that the U.S. Commercial Service has helped us with about 80-plus percent of that.

Barry: Any new projects coming up?

Kurtz: We just opened up an office in Brazil, as well as in Qatar. So we are working already on the World Cup coming up in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016.

Barry: Any advice for U.S. companies that are thinking about exporting or expanding their international markets?

Kurtz: Enjoy the Gold Key program offered by the Department of Commerce. It’s very beneficial and definitely will help curb any concerns you may have in entering an international market.

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NC Company Keeps its Ducks in A Row, Finds Global Success

May 8, 2014

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Doug Barry is a Senior International Trade Specialist in the International Trade Administration’s Global Knowledge Center. 

Making a good product isn’t the only key to succeeding in the global market. For North Carolina-based medical device manufacturer Rhythmlink International, one major hurdle is navigating important regulations for target markets.

The company has been operating from more than 10 years, and is bringing its products to several international markets with the goal of exports making up 10 percent of its business by the end of 2014.

The company currently exports to Canada, Israel, and Australia, and has made contacts in new markets with help from the U.S. Commercial Service and the DISCOVER Global Markets Business Forum.

Doug Barry of the International Trade Administration’s Global Knowledge Center caught up with Rhythmlink’s international marketing manager Christy Ashkettle to see how the journey is going.

Barry: What is your number one exporting challenge?

Ashkettle: For us at this point it’s the regulatory issues with foreign governments and their version of the FDA [U.S. Food and Drug Administration]. We must register our products and ensure that we are allowed to bring those medical devices into the country.

Barry: Is there one that you’re tackling now, or have tackled in the past?

Ashkettle: We have tackled Canada. It wasn’t really much of a tackle; it was more just dealing with what they needed done, getting the certificate, and ensuring that all our ducks are in a row. We’ve done that.

Barry: Are you facing challenges in any markets?

Ashkettle: There is just a lot of legwork in the back end, in making sure that you’ve got files with the proper documentation that are going to be registered with their governments, and there is someone working on that side in your best interest, as well as distributors who are going to be selling your products for you.

Barry: How has the U.S. government helped your company?

Ashkettle: They have been really great. We have come to the DISCOVER Global Markets conferences and we’ve met a lot of people. We’ve made some good contacts. The U.S. Commercial Service and our Export Assistance Center have been a huge help, and they’re going to help us in Germany at the international healthcare products trade show Medica.

Barry: We keep hearing that exporters face many challenges and experience myriad concerns and fears. Why did that not stop you?

Ashkettle: Because you have got to start somewhere. It’s a global village and you have got to be involved if you want to get somewhere. You need a strong belief in your product. We honestly do have great quality products, a superior company, and we’ve had the help of the Commercial Service and we just know that people need our products in other countries and we’ll be glad to sell them to them.

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Florida Company Looks to Panama for Export Growth

April 21, 2014

Moshtayeen Ahmed recently completed an internship in the International Trade Administration’s Office for Export Policy, Promotion, and Strategy.

Mechanical equipment excavating a ravine.

Ambient Technologies is a U.S. exporter providing support in environmental and engineering fields.

Florida-based Ambient Technologies is one of many U.S. companies looking south and finding new business opportunities.

Ambient provides a number of support services to companies and government organizations in environmental and engineering-related fields, including drilling, surveying, and mapping. With operations in Florida, the Gulf Coast, Central America, and the Caribbean, the business is well positioned to take advantage of opportunities throughout Central America.

The Look South campaign is helping companies take advantage of abundant business opportunities that exist throughout Latin America. For Ambient, prime opportunities exist in Panama, where the company is supporting the Panama Canal expansion.

“Over the past few years, our work with the Panama Canal expansion has continued to drive our export sales—and we expect to see even more opportunity,” said Ambient President and CEO Carlos Lemos.

The growing economies of Latin America mean more opportunities for your business as well. U.S. free trade agreements in the region can also mean a simpler export process and lower costs of doing business.

“The United States has 11 free trade agreements in Latin America, which is one reason we’ve been encouraging so many Florida business to look at those markets,” said Sandra Campbell, director of the International Trade Administration’s Export Assistance Center in Clearwater.

If you’re ready to explore opportunities for your business in Latin America, visit your nearest Export Assistance Center or export.gov/looksouth.

 

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SelectUSA: Investing in the United States, Creating Jobs, and Spurring Economic Growth

April 10, 2014

This post originally appeared on the White House blog.

Jeff Zients is Director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy. Secretary Penny Pritzker is the Secretary of Commerce.

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla join Lufthansa's August Wilhelm Henningsen and German Ambassador Peter Ammon in a signing ceremony for an agreement to create a new Lufthansa Aviation Facility in Puerto Rico.

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla join Lufthansa’s August Wilhelm Henningsen and German Ambassador Peter Ammon in a signing ceremony for an agreement to create a new Lufthansa Aviation Facility in Puerto Rico.

Today, Lufthansa Technik announced a significant new investment in Puerto Rico that demonstrates how efforts to deploy the full resources of the federal government to win job-creating investments in U.S. states and territories pay off. Through the advocacy of several high-level U.S. officials, including the Vice President and the Secretary of Commerce, as well as the work of SelectUSA, the government of Puerto Rico was able to secure this new investment, which will create up to 400 permanent jobs and strengthen Puerto Rico’s burgeoning civil aviation sector.

Lufthansa Technik, a wholly owned subsidiary of Germany-based Lufthansa AG, is making a significant new investment in Puerto Rico to build a maintenance, repair, and operations facility. Thanks to the persistent support of the Administration through our SelectUSA investment initiative, local efforts led by Governor Garcia Padilla of Puerto Rico, and the strengths of Puerto Rico’s growing aviation industry, the United States won this new investment despite strong competition.

SelectUSA – launched in 2011 and housed in the Department of Commerce – is the first-ever federal effort to bring job-creating investment from around the world to the United States in partnership with state and local economic development organizations. Today, Ambassador-led teams at our posts overseas directly support foreign investors looking to make investments in the U.S. by providing resources and information, and when needed, connecting them to investment experts at the Department of Commerce and throughout the SelectUSA interagency network.

Each investor, and investment case, gets tailor-made attention from our case managers at SelectUSA, who rely on ombudsman efforts to answer questions, as well as a sophisticated advocacy network that leverages key Administration officials all the way up to the President of the United States. Lufthansa is a perfect example of our coordinated efforts to bring job-creating investment here to the United States. In addition to Vice President Biden and the Secretary of Commerce and her team, SelectUSA involved other key federal officials, and coordinated with several federal agencies to provide the needed assistance to secure the project. And, when it came time to seal the deal, SelectUSA coordinated an effort across the federal government, including the support of the President’s Taskforce on Puerto Rico, to present Lufthansa with the case for locating their investment in the United States.

The Lufthansa investment is yet another example that demonstrates that the United States is an increasingly attractive location for job-creating business investment from around the world. Last year, for the first time in a decade, global business executives ranked the United States the number one destination for foreign investment. And the Department of Commerce released new data showing that foreign direct investment flows into the United States and our territories rose from $160 billion in 2012 to $187.5 billion in 2013.

With our booming natural gas sector, our skilled workforce, our status as home of the some of the top research universities and innovation hubs, and our resurgent manufacturing communities, the United States is primed for business investment. Businesses increasingly cite the U.S. open investment climate, rule of law, the ability to efficiently export their goods, access to high-quality supply chains, and proximity to robust consumer markets as key factors to locate their operations in the United States. And now, with the help of SelectUSA, the federal government is undertaking a coordinated and concerted effort to showcase our strengths and make the case with even more investors that the United States should be their top choice.

To put it simply, the United States is Open for Business.

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Exports Stimulate Sales of a Vitamin Distributor

April 9, 2014

Doug Barry is a Senior International Trade Specialist in the International Trade Administration’s Global Knowledge Center. 

When you’re exporting vitamins, you’re supporting healthy customers as well as a healthy bottom line for your business.

You’re also working within a framework of laws that regulate manufacturing quality, sanitation, ingredients, labelling and other considerations. These laws are necessary to protect consumers, but can sometimes be overwhelming as they change from market to market.

For vitamin-producer Transfer Point and owner Marilyn Becker, support from the International Trade Administration’s (ITA) Commercial Service has helped the company navigate regulations for new markets, leading to successes in Europe and Asia. Now the company is looking to expand in Latin America, where the United States has 11 free trade agreements.

She shared her story with Doug Barry, a trade specialist with ITA’s Global Knowledge Center.

Barry: Tell us about your company and where it is today.

Becker: Transfer Point was established to distribute dietary supplements for the immune system, and we only distribute what is best in its class and a very quality product. We started by accident, or by email communication, with the very small country of Croatia, and then started to intentionally seek sales.

Barry: What countries are you in today?

Becker: Several in the EU: Belgium, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, and now of course, very recently Croatia. And then a few in Asia: Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and very recently South Korea.

Barry: How did the International Trade Administration help you succeed in China?

Becker: The U.S. Commercial Service has helped us by guiding us regarding many regulations for the labeling, for packaging, for contents. They helped us do the translation of the label, they provided the information of what was required to be on the label, and they did background checks on the Chinese company that we were dealing with–to verify that we were with a legitimate entity.

Barry: So your cares and concerns about exporting seemed to have fallen away one by one.

Becker: This is true! I can’t say that we have always been successful in what we’ve tried to do. There are some countries we have not yet succeeded in. But boy, we’ve gotten every bit of assistance we could have. South Korea came here to Columbia, South Carolina to meet us and to get to know us better. We had three Commercial Service representatives join us at that meeting and make a presentation on our behalf, which tremendously helps credibility. I could give example after example of the support that we received from the U.S. government.

Barry: Has exporting helped your bottom line?

Becker: Oh, certainly. It’s a third of our sales. And it provides a stable, steady income. When the state’s economy crashed in 2008, we didn’t feel it. Our sales went up, particularly in the EU. We did just fine during that whole period. And that was because of the international market.

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Alabama Celebrates Export Success

March 6, 2014
Made In Alabama logo

ITA is proud to have a strategic partnership with the Alabama Department of Commerce to support state exporters.

Robert Stackpole is an International Trade Specialist at the International Trade Administration’s Export Assistance Center in Birmingham, Alabama. 

Yesterday was a big day for the State of Alabama, one that recognized a great year for state businesses and exporters.

At a ceremony at the State Capitol, Gov. Robert Bentley recognized eight Alabama companies that are setting a very high standard for Alabama companies that are competing – and succeeding – in the global marketplace. These businesses are exporting everything from audio/video equipment to machinery that helps install decorative lighting.

These exporters prove every day that Made in Alabama products are some of the most innovative, highest quality products in the world. They’re showing that exporting is possible for businesses of any size.

Engaging in the global marketplace is an excellent way for your company to increase sales, find more customers, and protect against an economic downturn.

If your business is ready to start finding and competing in new markets, the Export Alabama Alliance is here to support! Our team at the Birmingham Export Assistance Center is proud to be a part of that Alliance and to have a strategic partnership with the Alabama Department of Commerce.

We are honored to have helped all eight of the businesses recognized yesterday to increase their exports, and we are ready, willing, and able to support your business going global.

You can learn more about yesterday’s celebration and the companies that were recognized on the Alabama Department of Commerce website.

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How to Avoid a Mid-life Crisis: Start a Business and Take it Global

February 27, 2014

Doug Barry is a Senior International Trade Specialist in the International Trade Administration’s Global Knowledge Center. 

Harold Cecil was in his early 40s when he decided to start his own business in Central Oregon. His initial investment: $2,000. That was back in 2008, just in time for the Great Recession.

Six years later, he and a team of five employees at Giant Loop are making world-class equipment carriers for motorcycles. The company does business in 21 countries with sales growing 20 percent per year. It has expanded overseas with the help of numerous government agencies, including Business Oregon, the Small Business Administration, and the International Trade Administration’s (ITA) Commercial Service.

Cecil spoke with Doug Barry of ITA’s Global Knowledge Center about how his small company has found success in the global market.

Barry: What’s been the best sales channel for your international business?

Cecil: I’d say trade shows. One of the best is a motorcycle show in Milan, Italy, called EICMA. This was our third year exhibiting, and we have come away with distributor agreements every time. We exhibit in the U.S. Pavilion, and there we meet buyers from all over Europe and many other places. We meet them face-to-face, they can see, feel, and learn about our products; and we can learn about their needs.

Barry: How has government helped you?

Cecil: I couldn’t have done it with without them. This is my first business. I’ve been a journalist, an ad copywriter, and a marketer. I’ve never manufactured anything.

As I got started, our local Small Business Development Center helped me learn how to actually run a business. I still meet with one of the counselors every month to get advice. SBA has been helpful with a working capital loan guarantee. They came through when we couldn’t get a commercial loan from any bank.

The State of Oregon was a big help through the Business Oregon program. They helped us apply for and get financial assistance, which partly covered travel to the trade show in Italy and to one in Sweden.

The U.S. Commercial Service through the Portland Export Assistance Center connected us with Commerce Foreign Service officers and staff supporting the U.S. Pavilion in Milan. The Export Assistance Center has provided great market data and seminars on export mechanics. And the agencies work together to help small businesses like mine.

They are invaluable, top notch.

Barry: What else has made a positive difference for you?

Cecil: The U.S. Free Trade Agreements have been very helpful to us. That lower or zero duty rate makes our products attractive in those markets. Distributors tell us that our product is at the high end of the market because of our product costs and shipping. So any way you can shave costs helps offset our pricing disadvantage.

Barry: What does the future look like for Giant Loop? What are your biggest challenges?

Cecil: Everything is a challenge. That’s what makes it fun.

We’re growing. Seventy percent of the business is domestic; 30 percent is international. Strategically it’s important to have a mix of international and domestic. We’ll never abandon our international markets, no matter how much the domestic market grows.

We added a full-time employee in January, and we plan to hire more seasonal workers. I feel really good about creating jobs. This part of Oregon was hard hit by the recession.

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