Archive for the ‘Success Stories’ Category

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

May 8, 2014

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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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Gold Key Matchmaking Service helps Indiana firm to “Look South”

February 7, 2014

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

Even though the Look South initiative is just getting started companies like Indiana-based Escalade Sports are already looking south by using Mexico as a stepping stone to other Latin American markets. Escalade is an internationally known manufacturer and distributor of sporting goods brands. Back in 2005, National Account and International Sales Manager Marla Fredrich targeted sales to Mexico as a springboard to Latin America.

After teaming up with Dusan Marinkovic, a trade specialist with the International Trade Administration’s U.S. Commercial Service (CS) in Indiana, Escalade benefitted from export counseling and the CS Gold Key Matchmaking Service.

This service helps U.S. companies find potential overseas business opportunities by arranging business meetings with pre-screened contacts, representatives, distributors, professional associations, government contacts, and/or licensing or joint venture partners.

Through the Gold Key, Fredrich traveled to Mexico and met with pre-screened prospective business partners arranged by CS trade professionals at the U.S. Embassy.

As a result of ongoing CS assistance, Escalade made its first sale to Mexico and continues to increase its sales to the country. Having established a foothold in Mexico, Escalade has since looked south and started exporting to other parts of Latin America, including Colombia and the U.S.-Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement countries of El Salvador and the Dominican Republic.

Fredrich is upbeat about the region, and sees a lot more opportunity.

“We are now reaping the fruits of our hard work in making new sales to world markets, and Latin America has become a key focus of our international business strategy,” she says. “There’s no doubt that learning the ins and outs of selling to Mexico and working with the Commercial Service gave us more confidence in expanding our sales to other parts of Latin America.”

Fredrich also said that Escalade’s involvement in exporting and international diversification has enabled it to weather the changes in the global economy, and to grow and become more internationally competitive. As a result, the company has been able to sustain and support many new jobs in the United States.

Whatever and wherever your business is, the International Trade Administration can help any company that is ready to start exporting, expand to new markets, and begin to “Look South.”

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