Archive for the ‘Success Stories’ Category

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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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U.S.-Africa Business Success Stories: A Kodak Moment: How the Department of Commerce Brokered a Deal between Eastman Kodak and an Egyptian Bank

July 25, 2014

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

When the Department of Commerce helped Eastman Kodak broker an exporting deal with one of Egypt’s largest state-owned banks, it was a true Kodak moment. American businesses like Kodak are becoming increasingly engaged in exporting to Africa, and the reasons why are clear:

  • Africa has made great strides towards achieving sustainable economic growth and widespread poverty alleviation.
  • Gross domestic product (GDP) in Africa is expected to rise 6 percent per year over the next decade.
  • Africa is set to have a larger workforce than India or China by the year 2040.
  • According to the World Bank, almost half of Africa’s countries have attained middle-income status.

Africa’s potential as the world’s next major economic story is why businesses in the United States, like Kodak, want to offer their products, services, and expertise to help unlock even more of Africa’s potential – and the Obama Administration and Department of Commerce are committed to helping these exporting businesses each step of the way.

Kodak, the company best known for pioneering photographic film products, has been an active client of the nearby Rochester U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC) for decades. This long-standing relationship connected Kodak with one of the largest state-owned banks in Egypt, Banque Misr. When the bank was about to place an order to purchase Kodak Scanners, Banque Misr was told that Kodak had encountered a financial problem not familiar to many outside the U.S.: Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

To better understand Kodak’s financial situation, Banque Misr contacted the U.S. Commercial Service in Egypt, which then contacted the Rochester USEAC. The Rochester USEAC  was able to confirm that Kodak was still operational and headquartered in Rochester. With the help of Tim McCall, a trade specialist in Rochester, and the U.S. Commercial Service, the bank received the proper paperwork and placed an order to Kodak which amounted to roughly $185,000 in export sales.

The Obama Administration and the Department of Commerce believe that Kodak’s and Banque Misr’s example can encourage other U.S. companies to do business in Africa. That is why, last year, President Obama announced the launch of Trade Africa, a partnership between the United States and East African Community (EAC) – Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. Trade Africa aims to increase exports from the EAC to the U.S. by 40 percent, reduce the average time needed to import or export a container from African ports by 15 percent, and decrease by 30 percent the average time a truck takes to transit certain borders, making it easier for businesses on both side of the Atlantic to trade.

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

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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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