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Doug Barry is a Senior International Trade Specialist in the International Trade Administration’s Global Knowledge Center.
Adsorptech is a New Jersey-based small business that began as a consulting firm. After choosing to get involved in equipment production, the company sought guidance from the International Trade Administration’s U.S. Commercial Service.
The Commercial Service team, partnering with the New Jersey Business Action Center, determined that the prime markets for Adsorptech’s products were actually outside of North America. This encouraged the company’s leaders to begin looking outside the United States for its next group of customers.
Adsorptech CEO Jim Flaherty spoke with Doug Barry of ITA’s Global Knowledge Center about how support from the Commercial Service ultimately helped the company through its transition into production and the global marketplace.
Barry: What specifically did the U.S. Commercial Service offer?
Flaherty: When we first met they were actually willing to do work specific to our needs. We are a small business. We have families to feed, our business to run, customers that already existed. We couldn’t dedicate the majority of our time to exploring these new markets only on a website.
The Commercial Service took time to understand what our product was, how it worked and where it might fit. They went out and did the actual market surveys and came up with what geographies in the world would represent the most likely benefit in the shortest amount of time.
Barry: And then what happened?
Flaherty: Then, we took them up on their offer for doing a Gold Key Service (buyer finding) and we chose two markets. With their help, we chose Turkey and Colombia as the two markets that our product would sell the quickest. They helped us find and interview potential distributors in those two geographies. As a small business we can’t afford to set up shop anywhere, so going through distributors is the best route for Adsorptech.
Barry: How long did it take to get rolling in new international markets?
Flaherty: We’re very aggressive. We already have our first international sale — six months within putting together the strategy, so to me that’s light years. If anyone said what’s the greatest benefit of working with the Commercial Service — it’s speed. They cut off at least three years to the process of understanding how to get the first export to market. We’re off to the races, and it will be a wonderful problem to manage our time.
Barry: Were you intimidated about going outside of the United States to make these sales?
Flaherty: Scared to death! The world is so enormous. The first concern was “My goodness, where do we go?” And it was that help that elevated our comfort level immediately because we had tangible information upon which we could make a decision, instead of just guess. We’re engineers!
Barry: Are you better because of your international experience?
Flaherty: Absolutely. And we’re also better focused. Before as a small business that didn’t have a very specific strategy and target market, we were like the blind squirrel looking for the nut. Eventually you’ll find one, but that’s not going to create a sustained business. The support has helped us see how we can be sustainable. If we’re not going to be around in two to three years, why would anybody want to do business with us?
Barry: You seem optimistic about the future.
Flaherty: Exhilarated more than optimistic. The Commercial Service has shown me and Adsorptech how we can actually accomplish something. The first steps we took were tangibly accurate. As an engineer, proof is in the pudding.