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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.