Archive for the ‘Success Stories’ Category

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N.C. Business Scores a Win: Receives FIFA Product License

September 10, 2013

Phillip Goldstein recently completed an internship in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs. He is a senior at Middlebury College, majoring in International Politics & Economics

Once every four years, the world gets a taste of world class soccer with the FIFA World Cup. For Greensboro, NC-based University Print & Graphics, the 2014 World Cup experience will include more than just watching the games.

The International Federation of Association Football, popularly known by the French acronym FIFA, recently notified University Print & Graphics of approval for a product license. The company will be able to sell officially licensed hair bows at the World Cup in Brazil.

Chief Operating Officer and Co-Owner Michael Brunson came up with the idea during a trip to South Africa to watch the 2010 World Cup. It took the firm two years to apply for and receive the license from FIFA.

It’s a rigorous process to apply for such a license. Luckily, the company wasn’t alone – Debbie Strader and the International Trade Administration’s Export Assistance Center in Greensboro helped the business navigate through the license application.

They worked together to make sure all parts of the export process had been taken care of, including finalizing product requirements, negotiating freight shipment rates, and securing legal representation. Strader also worked closely with the ITA team in Brazil, giving the company even more insight about doing business in the country.

This license means a lot for University Print & Graphics and for Greensboro. The company expects to hire as many as 25 additional employees under a new division that will handle many aspects of the World Cup campaign.

It’s a powerful team when it comes to exports – quality American products and ITA’s offices in the United States and around the world. We’d like to team up with your company too. If we can help your business increase exports, visit your local U.S. Export Assistance Center.

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Attila’s Guide to Conquering Export Markets

August 29, 2013

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

Attila Szucs started Advanced Superabrasives in Nashville, North Carolina, with one employee in the early 1990’s. In the years that followed he grew the domestic market for his products, then expanded internationally during the U.S. economic downturn.

Szucs’s company has used International Trade Administration services like the Gold Key matching service to develop international markets around the world. His company was recognized by the Commerce Department with an “E” Award for exporting. He shared his story with Doug Barry, an international trade specialist with the International Trade Administration’s Global Knowledge Center.

Barry: Tell us about your company.

Szucs: The company was founded in 1993 in Nashville, North Carolina. And basically we started with myself and another person, and today we’re exporting to 16 countries.

We manufacture super-abrasive grinding wheels for other manufacturers. Super-abrasive grinding wheels are a product that actually grinds hard materials such as ceramic, glass, quartz, steel–all materials that need to be manufactured to very high tolerances. And the best way to do that is through grinding.

Barry: How did you get the entrepreneur bug?

Szucs: It was from my father. He had his own business. He started his own business in the United States not too long after we arrived here. And he is the entrepreneur in the family, and that’s where I got it from.

Barry: What was the biggest challenge that you faced in the development of your company?

Szucs: We started with absolutely no sales in 1993, and we did a lot of research and development and testing to improve our product. And slowly but surely we started penetrating the market within the United States.

We started exporting in 1995 to Canada. And after about 2002, when the economy took a hit in United States, we started to look how we could diversify so we can insulate ourselves from economic downturn. That’s when we decided that we really needed to look at exports, and we started exporting to China and to Brazil.

Barry: How did you manage?

Szucs: We were lucky. We actually started talking to the U.S. Department of Commerce, from Charlotte, NC, and it was just absolutely wonderful how we were treated and how much help they were. Through their Gold Key program, that’s how we got into Brazil. And that program is so helpful that they set everything up for you and basically all we had to do is show up. They even helped us with an interpreter and they set up all the appointments for us. It was a wonderful experience.

So from that point on we really tried to work very, very closely with the U.S. Department of Commerce. And in North Carolina we also had the North Carolina Department of Commerce, who was also very helpful in helping us navigate through the exporting issues that may have come up.

Barry: But how did you know to contact these people to begin with? You’ve mentioned just showing up. That’s something that a lot of U.S. companies fail to do.

Szucs: Most small U.S. companies don’t know about that tremendous asset that we have, whether it’s from the federal level or the state level. We actually heard from another company who used the U.S. Department of Commerce which helped them export. And that’s why we contacted them and wanted to see how we could pursue the same route.

Barry: Have you learned things in your dealings with other countries – China, Brazil, elsewhere – that have made you a better company?

Szucs: We just came back from Seoul, Korea. We participated in Trade Winds Asia, a U.S. Commerce organized trade mission. And again, I can’t say enough about it because it is a tremendous amount of help to any U.S. company, especially small companies like ours, because we get to meet companies from the region – potential customers, potential distributors. Plus, we learn about the culture of each country in the region and what they’re looking for so we can better prepare ourselves when we start dealing with these companies. It was invaluable for us.

Barry: Have you modified your product at all, or modified your approach to doing business as a result of what you’ve learned by selling to people in other cultures?

Szucs: We absolutely had to, because different cultures have different needs and we really have to cater to their needs. We can’t use the same approach in Europe that we’re using in Asia.

The United States does have a good following. People around the world, especially in Asia, they look up to United States and to United States products. So if you’re sincere and you have a good product, you have a very good chance of selling overseas, especially in Asia.

Barry: Are you confident that after you recent trip to Asia that you’ll add to your current collection of country markets?

Szucs: Yes, I’m looking forward to adding Korea and Japan. Japan is the crown jewel for me.

Barry: Will the free-trade trade agreement with Korea help?

Szucs: I think it will. Anytime we have a free trade agreement, it definitely helps. And it removes some of the obstacles.

Barry: What’s your advice to U.S. companies that aren’t exporting now?

Szucs: You don’t have to be a large company to export. That’s number one. And we’re a prime example. We’re not a large company. Second, take one country at a time. And most important, get help. And I would highly recommend using the U.S. Department of Commerce and your own local state department of commerce, because it will help navigate those troubled waters of export. Depending on which country you’re trying to get into, it could be a tremendous help to have people help you with the exports.

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No Stalling on the Ride to Export Markets

July 29, 2013

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

A dirt biker rides a bike up a mountain.

Two of the first autoclutches made by Rekluse were exported to Europe.

Rekluse makes clutches for off-road dirt bikes in a small factory in Boise, Idaho. The company’s founder, who begged his parents for a dirt bike and got one at age eight, got the idea for the business when searching, unsuccessfully, for a clutch to prevent engine stalls with his bike.

Now, Rekluse is selling clutches to dirt bike enthusiasts all over the world.

The company has worked with the International Trade Administration and other government agencies to develop an impressive international business presence, earning a presidential E-Award for Export Excellence in 2013.

On hand in Washington to accept the award was export manager Alison Kelsey, who talked with the Global Knowledge Center’s Doug Barry.

Barry: What does your company make?

Kelsey: Our company invented and manufactures auto clutches for dirt bikes. We’re in the off-road segment now and looking to go into the street market later this year. The product is called an auto-clutch. At a basic level, it prevents your motorcycle from stalling. And so it’s an aftermarket, bolt-on product that has advantages for beginners all the way up to professionals.

Barry: How did the company come into being?

Kelsey: The founder, Al Youngwerth, had tried a product that was kind of like ours, and it didn’t work well. It ended up damaging his motorcycle. He had a difficult time with their customer service. He’s an engineer, so his mind just started to work and he created the first auto-clutch 11 years ago. He just started from scratch and learned how to machine the product.

A dirk biker is executing a jump on a dirt course.

Exports are now about 30 percent of Rekluse’s business. The company exports to 41 countries.

Barry: How has the company grown?

Kelsey: Early on, two of the first clutches that were ever made went to customers in Europe. We started exporting very early on and took requests.

But three years ago, when I came into the company, we said: “We have a real opportunity here to grow this and to put best practices in place, bring in the infrastructure and really grow.”

We’ve seen tremendous growth in the last couple of years. Exports are now about 30 percent of our business. We have 18 distributors and through them, we export to 41 countries.

Overall, exports have enabled the company to grow more quickly. We have a very seasonal business and selling to markets all over the world helps us even out that seasonality and we can keep the balance up throughout the year.

Barry: What was the most important thing that helped the company grow systematically?

Kelsey: I think for us it as the commitment of the company to export, to know what it was going to take and all be on the same page and ready to invest in that, and then for all of us to have an understanding of the opportunity. When we have in-house R&D and production, everyone needs to be on the same page. So that was the most important first step: getting everyone on board from product design all the way up–we’re planning for exporting.

Barry: Was there a big challenge that you have encountered, or the founder encountered, in making the company successful?

Kelsey: I think the biggest challenge we’ve had is probably just limited resources. We’re a small company. We have specific challenges in each market that we work to overcome, but I’ve really found that since we’ve connected to the U.S. Commercial Service, we know where to get the answer to whatever situation has come up.

Barry: How specifically has the Commercial Service out there in Boise helped you?

Kelsey: Well, we’re really fortunate with our local Export Assistance Center office and Amy Benson specifically – I’d like to mention her. She has done everything from mentor the leadership team in our company, to prepare us for the commitment of exporting.

We’ve taken advantage of Gold Key Service, which finds buyers for us. I was in Brazil earlier this year, and to have everything set up – you just arrive and the Commercial Service people at the embassy have got it dialed up. We had fantastic meetings. Really great opportunities came out of that.

We also used the International Partner Search in Europe last year, which provided us a list of qualified buyers. So those are the services we’ve used, but Amy also just connected us to all the other export resources in our community. I think we know everyone now: the SBA, the Idaho District Export Council, many others. It’s our local network, and it’s great.

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Connecticut’s Exports Continue to Take Off!

July 23, 2013

Nicholas Barter is an intern in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs. He’s a graduate of Eastern Connecticut University, taking graduate courses at the George Washington University.

Connecticut small business Test Logic Inc. received an Export Achievement Certificate for its export success.

Connecticut small business Test Logic Inc. received an Export Achievement Certificate for its export success.

It’s a great time to be a Connecticuter!

Connecticut as a whole has been a wealth of exports as its merchandise shipments totaled $16 billion in 2012, which is an increase of about 9 percent since 2009.

Small businesses have helped lead the way in this increase. Of the 6,020 companies that exported from The Constitution State in 2011, more than 5,300 were small and medium-sized companies employing fewer than 500 workers.

With numbers like that it is easy to see why Connecticut Governor Dannell Malloy signed the Export Financing Act last week.  The Commissioner of Economic Development will now have the ability to give priority funding to small businesses wishing to export their product under Connecticut’s Small Business Express Program.

This bill shows how committed Connecticut is to being a major player in the global economy and its strong commitment to small business.

The bill sets up a brilliant future for Connecticut’s small businesses who aren’t yet exporting, so they can join their fellow business leaders in seeing the boost exporting can give to their bottom line.

For example, Test Logic Inc. was awarded with an Export Achievement Certificate for its outstanding success in exporting their products.

The award was given by Acting Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Ken Hyatt and Connecticut Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro.

Based out of Middletown, Test Logic is a small business of only 17 employees specializing in designing, manufacturing, and producing highly sophisticated, custom built-to-order aerospace test equipment used to develop turbine engines. It has become one of the leading providers in complete test cell system packages for multiple major aerospace companies, both foreign and domestic.

Test Logic consulted with the Connecticut U.S. Export Assistance Center to help get their exports off the ground. The team helped the company take advantage of SBA financing programs which eventually led to the company acquiring an $850,000 SBA Export Working Capital Loan. All this has helped Test Logic to expand to new markets like Japan, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

Now, 75 percent of the company’s revenue come from exports.

As a born and raised Nutmegger, I am very proud in what small businesses like Test Logic are doing to propel not only Connecticut’s economy, but to support our national recovery also. I’m glad to know the state is helping support small businesses as they lead the way in the global market.

As President Obama has said, small businesses are the backbone of our country. They may be small, but they deliver the powerful punch that is needed to stimulate our national and state economies.

Way to go, Connecticut! You’re paving the way and providing the tools for all small businesses to succeed overseas.

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Advocacy Center Helps Keep the Ball in Colorado’s Court

July 8, 2013

Nicholas Barter is an intern in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs. He’s a graduate of Eastern Connecticut University, taking graduate courses at the George Washington University.

Representatives from Ball Aerospace and the Korean Aerospace Research Institute signed their business contract during the Trade Winds Asia 2013 trade mission.

Representatives from Ball Aerospace and the Korean Aerospace Research Institute signed their business contract during the Trade Winds Asia 2013 trade mission.

Odds are you don’t need a scanning UV-visible spectrometer. You may not even know what that is. But the Korean Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) does need one, and it contracted with Colorado-based Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. to provide it.

Contracts like these will continue to bring quality American-made products to organizations across the globe.

Ball signed the contract with KARI on May 13, and will deliver a scanning UV-visible spectrometer to detect pollution and monitor long-term climate change in the Asia-Pacific region.

The contract will support an estimated 100 American jobs. It also supports Colorado’s top export sector — Computer and Electronics. The sector was the state’s leading merchandise export category in 2012, accounting for $2.1 billion in export sales.

Competing for foreign public contracts can be difficult. There could be a home-field advantage, as foreign governments may want to support their own country’s businesses. There could be artificial roadblocks, customs issues, or any number of potential hurdles.

That’s when the Department of Commerce’s Advocacy Center can be helpful.

The Advocacy Center has helped hundreds of small, medium, and large U.S. businesses win contracts across the world. Its goal is to guarantee that U.S. products and services can compete abroad on a level playing field. For this contract, Ball beat out companies from Germany and the Netherlands.

Advocacy Center Regional Manager, Frederick Helfrich, attended the signing of the contract by Ball and KARI during the Trade Winds Asia 2013 trade mission. Under Secretary Francisco Sánchez extended his congratulations to Ball at the mission as well.

If your business is in need of assistance to expand globally, please contact the Advocacy Center. Our team would be glad to help your company compete for foreign government contracts.

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Harnessing the Power of Nature; Harnessing the Benefits of Exporting

June 26, 2013

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

Lighting Eliminators products protect everything from industrial complexes to cell phone towers.

Lighting Eliminators’ products are used to protect everything from industrial complexes to cell phone towers.

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

Lightning Eliminators is a Boulder, Colorado company that does what its name says, according to chief executive Avrum Saunders. Saunders points to his many satisfied customers around the world who have purchased the hardware and related services to protect their oil drilling rigs, airports, schools, and many other kinds of infrastructure.

The company was highlighted in the Washington Post, in an article highlighting global success for American small businesses. As the article points out, many small businesses are getting export help from government agencies like the International Trade Administration, the Export-Import Bank, and the Small Business Administration.

In business since 1971, Lightning Eliminators recently expanded internationally in such diverse places ranging from Australia to Africa – and is thriving as a result. I was able to speak with Saunders about his company’s success when he was in Washington, DC to accept the Presidential “E” Award for export excellence.

Barry: Why do we need to eliminate lightning and how do you do it?

Saunders: We build very specialized and unique equipment to protect sensitive facilities from lightning strikes. If you have an oil facility, for example, a lightning strike can be catastrophic. Ours is a very different technology than the traditional lightning rod. We avoid lightning strikes, whereas lightning rods attract it.

Barry: Can you tell us a bit about how the technology works?

Saunders: Basically, lightning forms in the following way: Energy forms from the ground up and from the clouds down. And where the two meet, you’ll see the lightning strike or the lightning flash. Our equipment is designed to keep that upward-forming energy from reaching sufficient strength to attract the downward energy. It will seek some other location to connect.

Barry: What percentage of your sales is export?

Saunders: It’s 60-plus percent. I think this year it’ll probably reach about 62 to 63 percent. And we’ve grown that 200 percent over the last three and a half years.

Barry: How helpful is the U.S. government in helping your international business grow?

Saunders: Extraordinarily helpful. The people at the Export Assistance Center in Denver have been extraordinarily helpful to us. They have helped us open five or six new markets in the last two years. In fact my international sales manager is in Australia as we speak on a trip organized by the International Trade Administration, working with a local staff member in Australia to introduce our technology more fully and to help us find representation. That’s been the single most important thing that they’ve helped us do, is find good representation in a number of different countries – highly, highly recommend it to anybody who is looking to export. They’re good folk.

Lightning Eliminaters products protect oil rigs in the Indian Ocean

Lightning Eliminators products protect oil rigs in the Indian Ocean

In fact, the services they provide, you could not obtain for 20, 30 times the cost it costs us to work with them. It’s one of the programs that most people don’t know about, unfortunately, but is a really, really good use of our tax dollars because for every dollar spent we’re returning a considerably higher sum to the economy in Colorado and the U.S.

Barry: Advice to the companies that aren’t exporting now?

Saunders: There are three areas that I think are crucial. One, you need quality representation in the local economies because you cannot, from the United States, fully comprehend what goes on day-to-day in a place like Nigeria. You just can’t do it. You need that local help. Secondly, you have to pay attention to the details – details such as financing instruments, like letters of credit and bank transfers, things of that sort. Third, and perhaps most important, is that you really have to understand the business culture.

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How a Career Change Led to a Successful Export Business in Africa

June 21, 2013

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.

HERO Florida President Leslie Smith (right) stands in a gold mine in Ghana with his son, HERO Vice President Carlton Smith.

HERO Florida President Leslie Smith (right) stands in a gold mine in Ghana with his son, HERO Vice President Carlton Smith.

Perpetually suntanned and jovial, Leslie Smith operated a successful commercial landscaping business for several decades.

Then one day, he read an item in a local newsletter that caught his fancy. It was about exporting and how to do it.

Four years later, he was in Washington, DC to accept a presidential award for excellence in exporting. Leslie and his company, HERO Florida, export heavy machinery and spare parts to multiple markets in Africa, South America and Central America.

Here are some excerpts from a discussion I had with Leslie while he was in Washington:

Barry: How did you get started in exporting?

Smith: My son and I went to Export 101 put on by the Jacksonville, Fla. Port; the Chamber of Commerce; and the Department of Commerce.

We took the knowledge from the course there and applied it to mining equipment, which is what we were interested in and believed we could make a business out of. So we went to Las Vegas to the big mining show that happens every four years.

We decided to have a reception and invited all the commercial specialists from our embassies who were there with delegates from their countries. The delegates were buyers representing mining companies from around the world. And to our surprise 200 or 300 showed up, so it was really nice. And so we made a deal with an outfit there in Ghana and sold some equipment. And so that’s how we got started in the African market.

Barry: Why did you decide to go to the export course in the first place? You had a good business.

Smith: I don’t know. I just thought it was interesting. I read it in a business journal and I called my son into the office. “Carlton, this course on exporting, it looks interesting.” I always wanted to do something like that. I just thought it would be an opportunity to travel and spend time with my son who is also my business partner.

Barry: How many countries are you in now?

Smith: We’re in a bunch. I think probably 10, including Ghana, Nigeria on the west side, and then lots of South Africa – Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania and Namibia. Gosh, lots in that region.

Barry: Were you concerned about the risks of doing business in some parts of Africa?

Smith: Yeah, we really were. When we started we could do nothing more than cash and carry. People are not going to be able to open letters of credit and so forth, so it has to be cash and carry. And a lot of times they just don’t have the cash. So as things have progressed we’ve got help from the Export-Import Bank of the U.S., and we’re able to finance companies once they’re checked out through Ex-Im. So now we’re able to give companies terms.

Barry: In addition to Ex-Im Bank, did you get help from other government agencies and programs?

Smith: The Export Assistance Center of the U.S. Department of Commerce and the state of Florida through Enterprise Florida, those guys are great. I mean, they’re constantly – constantly bringing people to our office and trying to marry us with other people and inviting us to go on trade missions, and really doing their job. And if you’ve got a question, that’s where the support from the Commerce Department really comes in, because you can ask that question. And I would advise anyone that decides to get into the exporting business to use those resources because that’s what they’re there for.

Barry: So one aspect of the help you received was the International Buyer Program show in Las Vegas?

Smith: It’s the Mine Expo that only happens every four years. It’s the biggest in the world. The U.S. Commercial Service brings buyer delegations from many different countries that have mining equipment needs. In 2008, they had brought delegations from – I mean, you name the country; they were there. So it was fortunate for us.

Barry: What advice do you have for companies that aren’t exporting now?

Smith: It’s the American dream. It’s the entrepreneurial spirit. You go out there and you get it. I’ve always been in my own business, so it’s a lot of fun. And then I think my son thinks the same way, and his friends. If you want to travel and you want to do something exciting –I would take as many classes and talk to as many people like me as I could before I just jumped off the cliff. Otherwise, you could spend a lot of money and not go anywhere.

You need to do your homework. You need to use all the resources that the Commerce Department has to offer, because they have a lot. A lot. And maybe start out slow and go on some of these (Commerce Department or state government) trade missions and do it like that. And number one, have a good product—one that sells.

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America’s Small Businesses Find a Competitive Edge with Creativity

June 19, 2013

Michael Masserman and Ashley Zuelke work in the Office of Export Policy, Promotion & Strategy.

People in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood know artist Nikolas Weinstein for his cascading glass sculpture at a local restaurant, but U.S. customers are only 10 percent of Weinstein’s business. As we celebrate National Small Business Week, Nikolas Weinstein Studios deserves recognition as proof that – with a product or service that can be sold internationally – no business is too small or specialized to succeed in the global marketplace.


With a team of 10, Nikolas Weinstein Studios produces large-scale glass sculptural installations that hang in luxury hotels, commercial spaces, and private residences across the globe.

Initially, Weinstein met global customers by word-of-mouth. In 2009, they began working with the U.S. Commercial Service in San Francisco to seek counseling on international markets in Japan, China and Hong Kong. Since teaming with the U.S. Commerce Department, their international business has increased more than four-fold. In the past two years, more than 70 percent of their total business has resulted from working with the Commercial Service.

Businesses with stories like Nikolas Weinstein Studios support our efforts under the President’s National Export Initiative to increase U.S. exports and support millions of jobs here at home.  We’re committed to helping all U.S. businesses start selling internationally or expand global sales, but we recognize that small businesses have unique needs. In fact, small businesses represent nearly 85 percent of the companies we help at the International Trade Administration.

Small businesses also account for 98 percent of known U.S. exporting companies, and they are increasing their share of exports. In 2011, small and medium-sized businesses accounted for 33 percent of the overall value of U.S. goods exports – up from 27 percent nine years ago.

We also know small businesses create two out of three net new private sector jobs in our economy.  And today, half of all working Americans either own or work for a small business.

That’s why the Administration has focused its efforts on increasing the number of U.S. small and medium-sized exporters and making it easier for them to access federal export assistance.

We’re working to accomplish this by expanding access to trade financing and ensuring the most efficient delivery of our services to help small businesses establish a foothold abroad, compete on a level playing field, diversify their markets, and support additional good-paying American jobs.

Small businesses like Nikolas Weinstein Studios characterize the American entrepreneurial spirit. At the International Trade Administration, we see American products as the gold standard of quality and innovation. For small businesses interested in the global market, Weinstein has some simple advice – “Remember: American creativity is something people value.”

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Doing Business in Africa Campaign: A Success Story

June 18, 2013

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

Calynn Jenkins is an intern in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs. She is studying political science at American University. 

ITA's Executive Director for Export Policy, Promotion, and Strategy Michael Masserman participates in round table discussion about U.S. competitiveness in Africa with representatives from the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, U.S. Trade Development agency and hosted by Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA).

ITA’s Executive Director for Export Policy, Promotion, and Strategy Michael Masserman participates in round table discussion about U.S. competitiveness in Africa with representatives from the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, U.S. Trade Development agency and hosted by Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA) and moderated by Dr. Sharon Freeman, Chairman and CEO of All American Small Business Exporters Association.

President Obama recently said sub-Saharan Africa is poised to be the world’s next greatest economic success story, with U.S. exports to Africa topping $21 billion a year. In fact, Sub-Saharan Africa is home to six of the ten fastest-growing economies in the world, and enormous opportunities exist for U.S. companies to not only do well – but to do good.

That’s why then-Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank launched the Doing Business in Africa Campaign (DBIA) last November in Johannesburg, South Africa. The campaign furthers the President’s vision of more robust commercial engagement in sub-Saharan Africa by helping U.S. businesses benefit from the export and investment opportunities in the region.

President Obama said on the day of its launch, “Through the DBIA campaign, we are responding to the emergence of African regional economic communities, and working with our partners to deepen integration, reduce barriers to trade and investment, and support existing and new investments by American businesses.”

With the commitment of the Department of Commerce, the International Trade Administration, and interagency partners, DBIA is actively promoting the opportunities available to companies in Africa. Just this morning Commerce, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and U.S. Trade and Development Agency joined a round table hosted by Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA) with more than 100 stakeholders including the diplomatic corps and small businesses to talk about U.S. competitiveness in Africa. Each agency highlighted resources available to companies and how they fit together under the DBIA Campaign.

Pittsburgh-based Cardinal Resources, LLC seized the opportunity. Cardinal is an environmental and energy company that produces solar powered water treatment systems. From the company’s beginning in 2004, Cardinal Resources’ founders have always seen exporting and reaching international customers as its key to success. The U.S. Commercial Service (CS) assisted Cardinal Resources, LLC with exporting their solar powered water treatment systems to Africa, including Senegal, Nigeria, Cameroon, Sierra Leone and Ghana.

The Commercial Service communicated with customs authorities to help reduce duties and taxes; therefore, Cardinal Resources, LLC was able to more effectively complete the costly procedure of providing demonstrations of their solar powered water treatment systems to potential buyers overseas. The company is happy to report that they successfully closed two sales and gained over $9 million in sales revenue with the Commercial Services’ help.

“While there are challenges to doing business in Africa, we believe the sun continues to shine bright on the continent,” said Cardinal’s President Kevin Jones. “There is a tremendous need for clean water, and a growing commitment from governments to private companies to meet that need using sustainable solutions like our Red Bird Systems. Exporting sustained our company over the years and exporting to Africa will fuel our growth to new levels.”

Not only is Cardinal Resources, LLC taking advantage of the export opportunities in Africa, but it is strengthening our economy at home by sourcing 90 percent of the components for its systems from U.S. manufacturers. A project in Bayelsa, Nigeria, includes potable water storage tanks manufactured in Stoystown, Pennsylvania. Now that is good business!

To learn more about information technology sector opportunities in Africa, register for the June 20th 11:00 a.m. EST Sub-Saharan Africa Region & Trends: ICT Sector Webinar.

Is your business looking to expand their products overseas? Have you thought about the opportunities in Africa? Visit export.gov/Africa and sign up for email updates to get the latest on opportunities to do business in Africa, the DBIA campaign, and much more!

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“E” Award Winner’s Vehicles Save Lives and Support Exports

May 21, 2013

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Brian Larkin is a Presidential Management Fellow serving in the International Trade Administration.

First Priority exports emergency vehicles like ambulances and fire trucks around the world, with help from the International Trade Administration.

First Priority exports emergency vehicles like these around the world, with help from the International Trade Administration.

This week, the Department of Commerce hosted the 51st Annual President’s “E” Awards. During the ceremony, 57 American companies and organizations from 22 states were honored for their contributions to increasing our nation’s exports.

One of the winners was First Priority Emergency Vehicles, a New Jersey-based manufacturer of firefighting, medical, and other emergency vehicles and equipment.

“It is quite an honor to be a recipient of a 2013 President’s ‘E’ Award,” says First Priority President Robert J. Freeman.

“Our belief is that small businesses like First Priority have an important role to play in supporting President Obama’s National Export Initiative, growing our economy, and creating vital manufacturing jobs in the U.S.”

First Priority’s experience demonstrates both how the International Trade Administration (ITA) supports U.S. exporters and how a small business that takes a thoughtful, customer service-oriented approach to foreign sales can thrive.

Like other “E” Award winners, First Priority has found ITA to be a valuable partner. Mr. Freeman says that dedicated trade specialists, like Thomas Mottley of the Central New Jersey U.S. Export Assistance Center, have provided useful insights into foreign markets and made him aware of the many ITA resources available to exporters. He also credits CS officers based in China with apprising him of the commercial opportunity there and helping prepare him to do business in the country. Since then, China has become an important market for First Priority.

Another key to First Priority’s success has been understanding the needs of customers across a wide array of emerging markets. With buyers in countries like Russia, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Ghana, and Mexico, First Priority must modify its vehicles and equipment to meet differing local requirements. The firm carefully considers fuel efficiency standards, design characteristics, and even the prevalence of fire hydrants in its destination markets – and adapts its products accordingly.

First Priority has also been recognized for its comprehensive training programs, which help customers to effectively utilize what can be complex emergency vehicles. By remaining mindful of the technical and instructional needs of its clients, First Priority has earned a reputation internationally for superior customer service.

Exporters like First Priority and its fellow “E” Award recipients are selling quality products and services all over the world, strengthening their bottom lines, and creating jobs here in the United States. We at ITA are proud to support their efforts and look forward to continued export successes in the future.

We would also like to help your business. Please contact your nearest Export Assistance Center to learn more about our services.

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