Posts Tagged ‘exports’

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Discovering the Path to Compete, Win, and Grow in Exports

September 19, 2013

Greg Sizemore is the Director of the International Trade Administration’s U.S. Commercial Service in North Carolina. 

The Discover Forum featured an impressive list of speakers providing insight on doing business around the world. The image shows one speaker addressing all attendees during a keynote address.

The Discover Forum featured an impressive list of speakers providing insight on doing business around the world.

I just met 400 new contributors to the nation’s economic recovery.

After wrapping up this year’s Discover Forum, a premier event for businesses looking to increase exports, I’ve never been more confident about American companies and their desire and ability to compete in the global marketplace. Our ITA team worked with more than 300 business attendees from Raleigh, N.C., to San Antonio, Texas, to St. Paul, Minn., focusing on export strategies.

We had presentations about doing business all around the world, featuring speakers from the public and private sector who know how to compete and win overseas. Commercial diplomats from embassies across the world shared insights about doing business in their respective markets.

Representatives from companies like Western Union, Research Triangle Institute International, and Accenture shared their lessons learned and the strategies that have led to export successes for their businesses.

A buying delegation from Nigeria attended the Discover Forum, making connections with American businesses looking to do business in Africa.

A buying delegation from Nigeria attended the Discover Forum, making connections with American businesses looking to do business in Africa.

On top of that, U.S. commercial diplomats from 20 countries conducted more than 700 one-on-one counseling sessions with individual companies looking to develop export strategies for markets like Kuwait, Australia, and Chile. A special buying delegation from Nigeria met with several companies about doing business in Africa.

Add that in with the networking that always occurs at events like this, and what you have is a top-notch forum to assist any U.S. company interested in doing business overseas.

Discover Forum provided the knowledge and the connections that can give any business an advantage in the global marketplace.

Even better, the learning opportunities don’t end now that the forum is complete. Our trade specialists will continue to work with clients who attended so we can further develop export strategies. We’ll continue to share the information from this forum with other clients who request assistance from ITA. Upcoming annual events like Trade Winds, ACCESS, and next year’s Discover Forum will provide further learning opportunities for U.S. businesses. You can learn about all of our export promotion events and services at www.export.gov.

I can’t stress enough how helpful an event like this can be for a globally focused American business. I’m certain that anyone that attended Discover can vouch for how much they learned.

Wherever your business is, our ITA team is standing by to help any company that is ready to start exporting. I encourage you to contact your nearest Export Assistance Center, and I hope I will see you next year at Discover.

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Helping Feed the World Through Exports

September 13, 2013

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

Zeigler Bros, Inc. (Zeigler), founded by brothers Ty and Leroy Zeigler, started as a local producer of poultry and livestock feed for farmers in the Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, area in 1935. Leroy’s son, Tom, took over and changed the company’s direction to focus on research and development of specialty animal foods and aquatic diets. Today, the company continues to develop new and innovative technologies and manufactures more than 300 products, including at two facilities in Pennsylvania, and exports their goods to between 40 and 50 countries each year.

Zeigler has worked closely with the International Trade Administration (ITA) to support its export growth, and is a 2013 recipient of the Presidential E-Award for Export Excellence, the highest government honor for increasing exports. Doug Barry, a Senior International Trade Specialist in ITA’s Global Knowledge Center, spoke with Zeigler’s international sales manager Chris Stock about the business and its exporting success.

Barry: Tell us about the business and what you produce.

Stock: We’re a manufacturer of specialty animal feeds. Our focus is aquaculture feeds, specifically for fish shrimp farms. We also do feeds for pet exotic animals. And we’re also involved with the biomedical research industry, helping provide specialty diets for the animals that serve as health models in research.

Barry: You’re not a Zeigler Brother. What’s your position with the company?

Stock: I manage the sales of the company in Asia. But I strictly focus on the aquaculture area, which is where a lot of our attention and efforts are involved. I’m only involved with export; I don’t do any domestic business. My eyes are overseas.

Barry: How long have you been exporting?

Stock: Zeigler’s been exporting for quite a while. It’s very ingrained in the company culture, which is a great reason for our success. In the mid ’80s is probably about the time it started. And our involvement with the aquaculture industry really helped pull us and propel us into export, because aquaculture is a very international business, and it happens more outside the U.S. than inside the U.S.

Barry: Tell us about the extent of your exports and how they contribute to the company’s success?

Stock: Exports have expanded rapidly, especially in the last handful of years. They now encompass a majority of our business, slightly over 50 percent. We’re exporting to between 40 and 50 different countries every year. Last count was 43; some come and go. But it’s a huge part of our business and it’s where we see the most growth opportunity. If we want to grow our business, it’s going to be through overseas markets.

We certainly have business in the U.S. and that’s important to us, but the U.S. market won’t be growing at the rate that the international markets are.

Barry: What markets are you focusing on, going forward?

Stock: Areas of interest most specifically are Africa and Southeast Asia. There are a number of countries in these areas – West Africa is a hotspot for us, specifically Nigeria and Ghana. Then in Southeast Asia, we look at Vietnam, India, Bangladesh, China, Philippines, Thailand, some of these countries.

Barry: What is attractive to you about Africa?

Stock: Africa is on the cusp, I think. A lot of people see the opportunity, so it’s a great time to get in early, because it’s a huge emerging middle class that’s developing there with spending power. They need things more than any other part of the world. They have a lack of access to some of the higher-tech products and things that the U.S. can offer.

And there’s reason to take it slow when entering Africa and be cautious, but the opportunity outweighs the risk, there’s no doubt about that.

Barry: And do you think that Zeigler is a better company because of exporting, and if so, in what ways?

Stock: Absolutely. It diversifies the company, allows us to be insulated from issues in one market or another. Our business is subject to seasonality as well, and it has reduced the impact of seasonality on our manufacturing. And it just connects us throughout the world. The Zeigler brand is known in our industry throughout the world, and that’s a tremendous privilege.

And it challenges us. We are able to take opportunities and things we learn in one country and apply them elsewhere. So we’re always learning and one of the great parts about our job is we’re connecting people throughout the world and bringing ideas from one place to the other, whether or not they directly impact our product.

Barry: And what about the U.S. government? What has it done for you?

Stock: The Commercial Service of the Department of Commerce is kind of a go-to for us when we run into issues. There’s always something popping up. When you export to 40 to 50 countries a year, there’s going to be something at any given point on your plate. And so it’s a common go-to kind of hub for us.

In general, we come to them when we have export regulatory issues and we need somebody inside the government to guide us. That’s a big thing about exporting is knowing that you don’t know it all and you’re always going to need support. The government has helped bring us into new markets. We went on a trade mission to Ghana when we were getting our Africa business warmed up and met people there that are clients now and important partners.

Barry: Advice for other U.S. exporters or for companies considering it?

Stock: It’s a no-brainer. You should be exporting. If you’re not, start learning about it, talk to other exporters and just go for it. I think the key things to exporting are persistence and patience.

You have to realize that when you get in this, it may not be immediate sales, it may take years, but you have to have the long-term vision. If you’re willing to go through a couple of ups and downs, it can pay off in dividends. If you don’t enter the export market, you’re limiting your sales in a big way, no doubt about it.

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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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Discover What’s Next for Your Business at the Discover Forum

August 22, 2013

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Shirreef Loza and Frances Selema are Senior International Trade Specialists with the International Trade Administration’s Export Assistance Center in Raleigh, NC.

The Discover Forum will be held in Raleigh, NC, from Sept. 16-18.

There are plenty of questions for a small business looking to start exporting. What markets are best suited for your company’s products? How can you compete with larger companies? How can you get paid for your products? What kind of research do you need to do to begin exporting?

Luckily, you can get answers to all these questions and more at the 2013 Discover Global Forum in Raleigh, NC, Sept. 16-18.

This two-day summit will feature some of the world’s most knowledgeable people when it comes to exporting. Trade specialists from around the globe will be on hand to share inside tips about doing business in established and emerging markets, from Africa to Asia and the Middle East to South America.

Update: Check out a video about the Discover Forum 2013.

These specialists work every day in some of the world’s fastest growing economies – markets with consumers who are actively seeking the made-in-USA label. They know the best ways to bring your products to customers around the world.

The Discover Forum is the perfect opportunity for any U.S. business looking to begin exporting or to expand exports.

There’s no question that exporting is a great way to grow just about any business. It can protect your company from fluctuations in a single regional or national economy. It can expand your customer base, increasing sales and profits. It can also help create jobs in your town and boost the local economy.

We’ve shared several stories recently about just a fraction of the companies who have experienced new levels of success because of exporting.

Your company could be the next success story.

We at the International Trade Administration are proud to partner with the North Carolina District Export Council and other organizations to host the Discover Forum because exports are crucial to supporting the American economic recovery. Exports support millions of jobs, and that leads to greater prosperity here at home.

If your business is ready to start or increase exporting, register now for the Discover Forum. You can also follow the Forum on Twitter or contact us for more information.

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State Economies Get Boost from Exports

August 8, 2013

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

Seventeen states set export records in the first half of 2013, including Connecticut, Indiana, and Wisconsin.

Seventeen states set export records in the first half of 2013, including Connecticut, Indiana, and Wisconsin.

If your business is not exporting, you may be missing out on key opportunities to expand your business and increase your bottom line.

New data released from the International Trade Administration (ITA) on state exports from the first six months of 2013 shows U.S. merchandise exports totaled a record $781 billion. Oklahoma, Georgia, and North Carolina are among 17 states that reached record highs in merchandise exports.

Goods exports from Texas grew the most in dollar terms, rising from $4.3 billion to $134.4 billion. Washington (up $3.8 billion), New York (up $2.8 billion), Kentucky (up $1.4 billion), and Louisiana ($960 million) were the next largest.

Exports are an important driver of U.S. economic growth. Total merchandise exports from all 50 states contributed to a record $2.2 trillion in goods and services exports in 2012, which supported nearly 10 million jobs. According to new data from the first half of 2013, U.S. exports are on track for another record year.

The Obama administration has made exports a national priority, launching the National Export Initiative (NEI) in 2010 to support American jobs. Helping U.S. companies become more competitive internationally is a critical step to shaping an American economy built to last. The Department of Commerce and ITA are committed to continuing the trend of export growth.

More information about individual state contribution to national exports is available through the International Trade Administration’s Office of Trade and Industry Information web page.

If your business is ready to take advantage of opportunities overseas, ITA is here to support. We helped U.S. businesses achieve more than 14,000 export successes in 2012. Visit your local Export Assistance Center today.

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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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