Archive for the ‘Success Stories’ Category

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Thirty Tigers Reaches a New Level by Exporting

July 15, 2015

This is a guest blog by David Macias, President of Thirty Tigers.

Thirty Tigers is an entertainment company, located in Nashville, Tennessee that offers management, marketing and distribution, and publishing services to independent artists.

Thirty Tigers was interested in marketing itself outside the United States and learned about the Market Development Cooperator Program (MDCP) of the International Trade Association (ITA) through the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM). With support of the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) and a grant through the ITA from the MDCP, we exhibited at MIDEM 2013, the music industry’s leading trade show held annually in Cannes, France.

As a result of participating at MIDEM 2013, Thirty Tigers reported a sales agreement signed in France that led to sales of $80,000 in the first six months of the negotiated term. The benefits of participating at MIDEM continued for us in 2014, as we opened an office in the United Kingdom, leading to product sales in almost every European territory. Due to our increased global visibility, Thirty Tigers signed a distributor for Australia and New Zealand in October 2014 and ended the year with an approximate $700,000 in export sales. We anticipate international sales in excess of $1,000,000 in 2015.

This increase in export sales also resulted in an additional two jobs in the United States, with the potential to add more positions as sales continue to grow. Thirty Tigers plans on continuing to expand into Japan, South America and other territories, potentially through a company that we met with at MIDEM.

The assistance the International Trade Administration provided was hugely helpful to us. The business relationships that we built at MIDEM are not only going to allow us to sell music in those markets, but the promotional support that we can now arrange for our artists are going to allow them to tour in those countries, as well. Those acts will employ road staff and musicians that live, work and pay taxes here at home. The multiplier effect that has come from the help the ITA has provided continues to pay off, not just for Thirty Tigers and our acts, but for many related companies and free-lance workers.

This is a great example of how a little help and direction from the government can be helpful to business and workers alike. We and our artists are very appreciative.

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E Star Award Winner Volk Optical Saving Sight and Supporting Exports

July 7, 2015

This is a guest blog post by Pete Mastores, President, Volk Optical

ophthalmic lenses In May, the Department of Commerce hosted the 52nd  Annual President’s “E” Awards honoring U.S. companies for their contributions to increasing our nation’s exports. The awards are broken into two designations: “E” Award for Exports for first time winners and “E” Star Award for Exports for previous recipients who continue to demonstrate significant contributions to the expansion of U.S. exports.

Having received a first time “E” Award for Exports in 2011, Volk Optical was recognized this year with an “E” Star Award for Exports for the continued success of our exports program. One of only 4 product manufacturing exporters awarded this distinction, Volk has seen steady growth in export sales since its first “E” Award.

Our company manufactures ophthalmic lenses, portable diagnostic imaging products, and surgical ophthalmic viewing systems and lenses that are used to diagnose and treat conditions of the eye. Eye doctors globally use Volk’s products provide the best possible eye care, thus improving vision.

ophthalmic lensesIt’s gratifying to have our export strategy recognized with a second President’s “E” Award and Star distinction. Our focus, strategy, and personnel additions have allowed our export business to grow consistently for 8 years.  Volk takes the proven approach of focusing on a single region for a one year period, establishing distributors, attending regional tradeshows, and securing the necessary regulatory product registrations and approvals. We concentrate our efforts on entrenching our core product line of ophthalmic diagnostic, laser treatment, and surgical lenses, after which that region is expected to grow organically. After the initial year, Volk turns its eye to growing demand for our more technical and capital-intensive products such as eye imaging cameras and surgical systems. These products require more education and effort to sell, so training of our worldwide distributors was critical. They take time and effort to sell, so the commercial approach requires established, trained, savvy boots on the ground.

We applied this approach first in Europe, then South America, India, China and the Middle East. Volk’s commercial expansion was supported by our parent company, Halma plc, which set up office hubs in developing markets. Having a regional base of operations helped us establish our international sales force.

Additionally, Volk has been assisted along the way by the efforts of the International Trade Administration (ITA) and U.S. free trade agreements. Some of the benefits from a U.S. Free Trade agreement is in lowering our costs of procurement of raw materials, components, etc., as well as in expanded global sales opportunities, allowing us to provide affordable optical medical devices.

Free trade agreements have helped Volk a lot and will continue to do so. We still manage everything out of Mentor, Ohio– the design, the manufacturing, the sales and marketing. The free trade agreements have allowed us to save significant time and money in going to market in foreign countries. We’ve kept and created jobs here in the U.S., as well as internationally, by putting people in the field to support our export efforts.

Volk has also benefited from the services of the U.S. Commerce Department which has been instrumental in assisting us with Gold Key programs to identify distribution channels around the world.

Volk expects export growth to continue as more and more developing countries’ eye doctors are able to afford Volk’s high quality, high performance lenses  and electronic diagnostic imaging devices to provide the best eye care to their patients.

Winning the U.S. President’s E Award in 2011 certainly excited and challenged us to continue to grow our international export business for the past 4 years in order to win this prestigious E Star Award. We’re eager to see what the next several years hold for Volk Optical.

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Export Success Series: Export Sales to Mexico Opening Doors to Latin America

June 12, 2015

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Decoration image of a globe with U.S. and Mexican flags designed as arrows pointing above and below each other

Export Success Series: Export Sales to Mexico Opening Doors to Latin America

As businesses work to expand their international export networks, they look to the Department of Commerce’s U.S. Commercial Service (CS) to move domestic and foreign economy relations forward. The U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC), a major part of Commerce’s CS, specifically provides key opportunities through counseling, special events and specific business matchmaking. This business matchmaking can broaden opportunities for further export sales with a multitude of countries. Escalade, Inc. of Evansville Indiana, now an international manufacturer and distributor of sporting goods brands, partnered with the USEAC in Indianapolis ten years ago to establish themselves in Latin America.

In 2005, Escalade’s National Account and International Sales Manager Marla Fredrich, with the help of USEAC, explored possibilities of opening export sales to Mexico. Soon after connections were made, initial sales to Mexico launched and have increased ever since. Today, Escalade exports their products not only to Mexico, but also to other Latin American countries such as Colombia, as well as CAFTA countries including El Salvador, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic. Fredrich explains, “there’s no doubt that learning the ins-and-out of selling to Mexico and working with the Commercial Service gave us more confidence in expanding our sales to other parts of Latin America.” By doing so, Fredrich states that Escalade is “now reaping the fruits of [their] hard work in making new sales to world markets, and Latin America has become a key focus of our international business strategy.” Escalade is just one recent example of how U.S. companies have made much progress in exporting to a wide variety of countries, especially those in Latin America.

Establishing a foothold in one reputable export country such as Mexico paves the way for businesses to grow and sustain export networks in similar countries. This global diversification creates opportunities for both U.S. firms as well as foreign countries to strengthen economies and become more internationally competitive. Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker attended the U.S.-Mexico CEO Dialogue at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Secretary Pritzker emphasized achievements of the High-Level Economic Dialogue (HLED), which include new air travel agreements, steps to improve border management. Strengthening people-to-people ties in the near future with these types of forums, Pritzker stated, will continue to play a key role in creating export success stories similar to that of Escalade, Inc.

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Export Success Series: Chilean Exports Save Thirty Plus Jobs

June 5, 2015

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

In recent years, American Emergency Vehicles (AEV), a custom ambulance production company based in North Carolina, has increased exports to several countries—namely, Chile. Addressing the growing demand for safe, custom-made emergency vehicles, Chile has become a vital partner with AEV.

With the help of the U.S. Commercial Service and ExportTech, all backed by U.S. and Chilean free trade negotiations under the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement, AEV views “Chile as a critically important market for our long-term global sales strategy,” says Randy Barr, AEV’s Sales Manager. AEV’s advantageous relationship with Chile is not limited to production sales; it also translates to increases in prospective jobs.  “Overall, the business we gained from expanding into exporting allows us to keep the people we have,” Barr explains. Exporting has saved up to 30 jobs within AEV since 2012. AEV hopes to expand its production, which would result in an additional 30 new jobs created. For this rural-based firm, the U.S.-Chilean trade agreements allow for mutually beneficial sales and increased employment opportunities.

The United States economy requires the swift negotiations of these free trade agreements on a global scale to ensure a fair playing field for all firms and workers. Without the Chilean free trade agreement, for example, AEV would not be able to work so closely with Chile both in generating exports for products as well as jobs. Exports are extremely valuable in strengthening our economy; thus, improving export relations will help the U.S. stay globally competitive. Find out more about how free trade agreements assist in expanding the United States economy at http://www.trade.gov/FTA/.

Making trade and investment a bigger part of the DNA of U.S. businesses and increasing opportunities for American companies like AEV by opening new markets globally is a key pillar of the Department’s Open for Business Agenda. Later this month, Secretary Pritzker will travel to South America to help American companies learn about potential opportunities in the region and make important contacts with business and government leaders.

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Hard Wiring the World, One Country at a Time

December 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.

Electric wires running from a tower with the sky in the background

More than 80 percent of the world’s transmission wire is sold outside the United States, giving CTC Global a great opportunity to do business overseas.

CTC Global Corporation is a California-based company that makes transmission wires and sells them in 28 countries. CTC has 110 employees and 70 percent of its revenues come from international sales.

And the company continues to expand to new markets. While attending the Discover Global Markets Forum in Los Angeles earlier this year, CTC signed a deal with a new distributor in Portugal, with the help of the International Trade Administration’s Commercial Service.

Marv Sepe manages the company and recently shared details of the company’s international success with Doug Barry, a trade specialist with the International Trade Administration.

Barry: You’ve gone into all these markets in less than eight years. How did you do it?

Sepe: Only 15 percent of the world’s transmission wire is sold in the United States. Eighty-five percent is sold outside of the country. So if you are going to serve the larger part of the market, you need to be outside of the United States. Many of us that were there when the business started were not afraid to go offshore at all in order to sell what we source and make in the U.S.

Barry: What has been the biggest challenge for you in building this business?

Sepe: We deal in a very conservative market. When you go to a utility in any country or the United States and say, “We want to change the way you deliver power to something more efficient,” people are quite skeptical. Our biggest barrier really has been the proof–to tell the customers that this is a new way to do things. We give them a demonstration, and we wait.

Barry: How has the U.S. Commercial Service helped you?

Sepe: They’ve been very helpful. My first involvement with them was back in 2010. I participated in a trade mission to China with the Secretary of Commerce. It was the first renewable energy or efficient energy mission to China. We got a good sense of the capabilities of their team, and we’ve kept up ever since.

The Export Assistance Center in Irvine is quite close to us, and I know those guys very well. We deal with them all the time. Now we’re using the team in Europe to do partner searches for us in several different countries right now.

Barry: What would you recommend to other U.S. companies that are considering expanding their international sales?

Sepe: Go on a Department of Commerce trade mission. It’s phenomenal as far as raising brand recognition as a company that delivers high efficiency and clean energy. We probably couldn’t have gotten that any other way.

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Exporting is a Hit for HIT

September 30, 2014

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

Photo shows a square of HIT's smart materials that repaired themselves after being punctured.

HIT’s smart materials are designed to “heal” themselves when punctured. More than half of the company’s jobs are supported by international business.

What happens if you have a fuel container and it gets punctured? You’re probably going to lose your fuel. Depending on what punctures your container, you could also have an explosion.

Unless your fuel container is made of “smart” materials, like the materials developed by Oregon-based High Impact Technology, or HIT.

Results look like magic as the company’s smart materials seal up bullet holes before contents can spill and catch fire. HIT also makes treatments to protect power plants from everything from storms to terrorist attacks.

More than half of HIT’s employees work on the international side of the business, so exports have been crucial for the company. HIT has also worked with the International Trade Administration’s (ITA) Commercial Service office in Portland, Ore., to expand in global markets.

HIT Director of Operations Russ Monk discussed how business is going with Doug Barry of ITA’s Global Knowledge Center.

Barry: You became an exporter via the U.S. military, which is not an uncommon channel for smaller companies that work with the U.S. Commercial Service.

Monk: That’s right. We monitor U.S. government procurements and we spotted one for the Department of Defense a number of years back. At the time, enemy attacks on fuel convoys coming into Iraq was problem number one on the planet for the Department of Defense. We were invited to demonstrate our solution and selected two weeks later.

Barry: What is the chemistry behind your solution?

Monk: Resins are mixed under very high pressure to form a urethane coating. It also has a reactive chemistry in the matrix. Simply put, an internal cork is formed to prevent the flammable liquids from leaking out and igniting. We hold half a dozen patents on the process. Our main mission is to protect soldiers. We won’t make things that harm people.

Barry: What other customers do you have?

Monk: We sell to Germany, Canada, and Russia. We will ship soon to Singapore and the United Arab Emirates. We’ve had a request for quotes from Turkey and the United Kingdom.

Barry: How important are international sales to your business?

Monk: Hugely important. Thirty-percent of our sales are international. More than half of our 40 employees, including supply chain jobs, work on the international side of the business. When our infrastructure barricades get rolled out, we expect to expand in all markets.

Barry: What kinds of assistance have you received from the government?

Monk: You really help small U.S. companies like ours. Trouble is you’re a best kept secret. Maybe I shouldn’t share you, but I do. We rely on you to introduce us to new markets. When the U.S. Commercial Service folks at the Embassies join us in meetings with government officials in, say, the United Arab Emirates, it really makes a difference. We get instant credibility from the host government. We attend seminars at the local Export Assistance Centers—on export controls and regulations. They’ve been invaluable. And we’ve taken advantage of the STEP grant—federal funds administered by the State of Oregon that helped us attend an international trade show.

Barry: Thank you for helping us become less of a secret. What’s been the biggest lesson for you in going global?

Monk: Have patience. It takes time to learn the business culture. It’s easy to get spoiled if you deal just with other Americans. When you operate globally, you need to have a long horizon. We could speed things up by paying bribes in countries where it’s a common practice, but we won’t do it and never will. Good technology trumps graft. That is the (American) advantage. The Commerce Department represents some of the best taxpayer dollars spent and has greatly enhanced our offering to the world.

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U.S.-Africa Business Success Stories: How a Supplier of Powerboats to the U.S. Military Started Doing Business in Nigeria

July 31, 2014

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Hann Powerboats’ customers include the United States Air Force, United States Navy, and the United States Army Corps of Engineers – and now, because of assistance that the company received from the Department of Commerce, they can add another name to their impressive list: the Nigerian oil and gas company, MOP Marine.

U.S. businesses like Hann Powerboats are increasingly seeing tremendous economic opportunity in Africa, and the reason why is simple: Africa is thriving. From 1995 to 2013, Africa experienced an average annual GDP growth rate of 4.5 percent. In 2012, eight of the twenty fastest growing economies in the world were in sub-Saharan Africa, and, according to the IMF, in 2013, total U.S. two-way goods with the region were $63 billion. Africa’s potential to be the world’s next major economic story is why businesses in the United States, like Hann Powerboats, want to offer their products, services, and expertise to help unlock even more of Africa’s potential – that is why the Obama Administration and the Department of Commerce remain committed to assisting American businesses in finding opportunity in this economically expanding region.

Hann Powerboats became interested in expanding its business to Africa when it was approached by a potential client in Nigeria to secure MOP Marine’s need for patrol boats. Hann Powerboats asked for assistance from the Tampa Bay U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC) and the U.S. Commercial Service (CS) team in Lagos to help with vetting this potential partner, and CS Lagos was able to facilitate meetings between Hann Powerboats and MOP Marine. The Tampa Bay USEAC then helped put Hann Powerboats in touch with the Nigerian Embassy in Washington D.C. to help with them acquire proper documentation. The result of this assistance allowed Hann Powerboats to make sales to MOP Marine for over $4 million.

The U.S. Commercial Service is the face of the Department of Commerce around the world, and each day they help U.S. businesses like Hann Powerboats start exporting or increase sales to new global markets. That is why the Department of Commerce is dedicating more human resources to Africa by expanding its commercial service teams in Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, and Libya. For the first time ever, the Commerce Department is also opening offices in Angola, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Mozambique. With a greater footprint in Africa, the Obama Administration and the Department of Commerce aim to make Hann Powerboats’s and MOP Marine’s story just another common example of the United States and Africa doing business.

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

Please check back regularly for more success stories about companies doing business in Africa.

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