Posts Tagged ‘USEAC’

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Exporting: Where There’s a Will (and Solar Power), There’s a Way

November 1, 2011

By Doug Barry, a senior international trade specialist in the Trade Information Center.

Labcon, a U.S. exporter based in Petaluma, California, has found that such strategies as mechanization, increased productivity, green technology, and an unwavering willingness to go abroad have helped it to achieve export success.

This 800-kilowatt rooftop solar array, which came on line in July 2011, now provides about 30 percent of the energy needed to produce Labcon North America’s products. The California company is committed to green technology, and this year was presented with an E Award by the Department of Commerce for its export achievements. (photo courtesy Labcon North America)

This 800-kilowatt rooftop solar array, which came on line in July 2011, now provides about 30 percent of the energy needed to produce Labcon North America’s products. The California company is committed to green technology, and this year was presented with an E Award by the Department of Commerce for its export achievements. (photo courtesy Labcon North America)

Labcon North America, located in Petaluma, California, is a major supplier of disposable products to laboratories, which include pipets, centrifuge tubes, and other laboratory disposables. The company has been a leader in “eco-efficiency,” using less packaging, recycled plastics, and refillable packages in its product line. It has also been committed to sustainable manufacturing processes, most notably by installing an 800-kilowatt rooftop solar array that came on line in July 2011. This now provides about 30 percent of the energy needed to produce Labcon’s products.

In May, Labcon received an E Award from then-Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke in recognition of the company’s achievements in exporting. Labcon’s president, Jim Happ, spoke recently with Doug Barry of the Department of Commerce’s Trade Information Center about the company’s approach to exporting and the tools that they’ve used to grow their markets overseas.

Barry: Petaluma, California, was once known for its chicken eggs, right?

Happ: Yes, exactly. Petaluma was once a leading exporter of eggs. In the 1950s, there were container loads of eggs going down the Petaluma River, headed to Mexico and South America. It’s interesting that we’ve won this E Award, and that we’re from Petaluma. It will be fun going back home with this!

Barry: What does Labcon do?

Happ: We are a manufacturer of medical liquid handling products, primarily disposables that are used by clinics, drug discovery labs, hospitals, and universities. We make about 4 million pieces a day of such labware. And we’ve been in business for more than 50 years.

Barry: When did you come to the company?

Happ: I’ve been here 20 years. When I came to the company, it was doing about $1 million a year in exports. Now we are up to about $10 million a year.

Barry: How many employees do you have now?

Jim Happ, president of Labcon North America, at the company’s manufacturing facility in Petaluma, California. According to Happ, many U.S. businesses “are unaware that the rest of the world wants everything that we have, and that they really respect Americans and American products.” (photo courtesy Labcon North America)

Jim Happ, president of Labcon North America, at the company’s manufacturing facility in Petaluma, California. According to Happ, many U.S. businesses “are unaware that the rest of the world wants everything that we have, and that they really respect Americans and American products.” (photo courtesy Labcon North America)

Happ: About 240, from just a handful some years ago back. But the number doesn’t tell the whole story. We haven’t grown in quantity that much, but we have grown a lot in terms of the number of higher-paying jobs. I’d say the average salary at Labcon now is 40 percent higher than it was six years ago.

Barry: How do you account for that?

Happ: We’ve mechanized a lot to become more efficient, and that has made us more competitive in the world market. We can compete with the Chinese. We can compete with anybody.

Barry: What was the biggest challenge in increasing your exports?

Happ: Because we produce medical devices, the biggest challenge was getting our products certified—in Europe, for example, with the CE mark and ISO certification—and getting all of our documentation ready with multilingual labels, etc.

Barry: Did you make use of any U.S. government resources to help you in your efforts to expand overseas?

Happ: Yes. The staff of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service (USFCS) has been really helpful to us, especially with the Gold Key matchmaking service. We did a couple of Gold Keys, where we had the opportunity to meet with potential distributors. We also received counseling on where the better markets were likely to be for us. Elizabeth Krauth of the U.S. Export Assistance Center in the North Bay Area [California] is our liaison. We’ve been working with her for at least five years.

For More Information

Is your company thinking of expanding overseas? The network of more than 100 U.S. Export Assistance Centers (USEACs) located around the country can help. To locate the one nearest you, visit Export.gov, the U.S. government’s export portal. Aside from links to USEACs, the Web site also includes online tutorials, listings of upcoming trade events, and much more. Visit www.export.gov or call the Trade Information Center at 1-800-USA-TRAD(E) (1-800-872-8723).

Barry: Can you tell us a bit about a country where you did the Gold Key?

Happ: Well, in Singapore, for example, we had a distributor that wasn’t performing well for us. So, we went to the U.S. embassy where we met with several distributors and with the USFCS staff based there. We came away with a new distributor as well as a lot of literature on the market. We also got a lot of ideas on what we should be doing there as far as warehousing and how to make it easier for people to buy our products.

Barry: How did that work out in terms of new business?

Happ: I’d say we’ve quadrupled our business there in three years. We are now looking to hire someone in Singapore to manage our business. We think that if we had one person based there, we could exponentially grow our sales.

Barry: What other markets are you looking at?

Happ: Indonesia and Russia. We are looking at doing a Gold Key program in Russia because we have virtually no sales there. We’ve been unsuccessful in finding a good distributor in Russia. So I’ve already spoken to Elizabeth Krauth about using the Gold Key program to help us find one.

Barry: How about China?

Happ: In China, we have an arrangement with a distributor. We’re just in our first year with them, so we’re going to give them another year to see how they do. We gave them the first container of our product on 365-day terms. They have 130 salespeople spread throughout China.

Barry: What percentage of Labcon’s sales is international?

Happ: About 30 percent outside of North America. About 40 percent if you include Canada and Mexico.

Barry: What would your advice be to a U.S. businessperson contemplating exporting?

Happ: I’d advise them to visit those countries that they’re thinking of exporting to, do some research, talk to the Commerce Department’s export counselors, and so figure out where they should be. It’s important to physically go to those countries and meet the people there, and to go to trade shows and the embassies. If you have a competitive product in this country, you can be competitive overseas. We’ve completely gotten over thinking that the overseas part of our business is more difficult than the domestic part. It isn’t. In fact, it’s probably now easier for us to grow because overseas markets are expanding so much.

Barry: What do you think holds U.S. companies back from exporting?

Happ: I think many Americans are afraid, and don’t understand the world. It’s not a bad place! You’re not going to get ripped off, and you will get paid for your products. Unfortunately, many Americans are unaware that the rest of the world wants everything that we have, and that they really respect Americans and American products.

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Spreading the Word about How to Succeed in Exporting

October 4, 2011

By John Ward, a writer in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs.

A conference last month in San Diego, California, brought together more than 1,300 business counselors from around the country. With help from several Department of Commerce bureaus, including the International Trade Administration, participants sharpened their export counseling skills.

RELATED: ITA Joins with Small Business Development Centers to Help U.S. Exporters

Thanks to detailed training sessions that featured export specialists from the International Trade Administration (ITA), other federal agencies, and public and private partners in the trade community, more than 1,300 business counselors from Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) recently updated their knowledge and skills in how to best help U.S. companies export.

The sessions were part of the annual convention for the Association of Small Business Development Centers, which was held in San Diego, California, on September 6–9, 2011. The SBDCs are a nationwide network of business counseling centers that are hosted by universities, colleges, and state economic development agencies. They are funded in part through a partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and many work closely with ITA’s U.S. Export Assistance Centers (USEACs). There are approximately 1,000 SBDCs located throughout the country.

For More Information

To find the location of the nearest U.S. Export Assistance Center, visit the U.S. government export portal at www.export.gov or contact the Trade Information Center, tel.: 1-800-USA-TRAD(E) (1-800-872-8723). More information about Small Business Development Centers, including links to local offices, is available at www.sba.gov. Click on “Small Business Development Centers” under “Counseling and Training.”

Certification Process

These small business counselors were among those who had the opportunity to learn more about exporting through a series of workshops cohosted by the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee at the convention of the Association of Small Business Development Centers held in San Diego, California, September 6–9. (photo © Association of Small Business Development Centers)

These small business counselors were among those who had the opportunity to learn more about exporting through a series of workshops cohosted by the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee at the convention of the Association of Small Business Development Centers held in San Diego, California, September 6–9. (photo © Association of Small Business Development Centers)

By taking the training at the convention, SBDC staff members can qualify for certification as export counselors. The impetus for this training comes from the National Export Initiative (NEI) and the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010.

President Barack Obama announced the NEI in the State of the Union Address in January 2010. It calls for doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014. The Small Business Jobs Act requires that no less than five individuals or 10 percent of the staff from each of the 63 “lead” SBDCs be qualified as international trade counselors. (A “lead” SBDC is the institution that holds a contract with the SBA. It is responsible for administering and operating the SBDC program within a given jurisdiction, usually a state or territory.)

Introductory and Intermediate Topics

ITA was directly involved in more than 10 exporting sessions at the conference through the work of the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC), which is a federal interagency body that coordinates federal export promotion efforts.

The sessions included introductory and intermediate tracks and covered topics such as export marketing and sales, global logistics and supply chain, export regulations, and international trade payments. Presenters included representatives from the Census Bureau and the TPCC.

The sessions focused on the basics of exporting because SBDC business counselors will be focusing their efforts on the needs of first-time exporters. Companies that are already exporting will be referred to the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service staff at the local USEAC.

Fulfilling a Mandate for Export Growth

The training sessions come at a propitious moment as the goal date set by the NEI comes closer. This cooperative approach also underscores how small and medium-sized enterprises can benefit when government agencies, along with public–private partnerships, join their complementary skills to more effectively promote U.S. exports.

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ITA Joins with Small Business Development Centers to Help U.S. Exporters

October 4, 2011

By Philippa Olsen, a marketing and communications specialist with the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service.

Lyn Doverspike (center), director of the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Export Assistance Center, speaking at an Export Achievement Award ceremony for Cardinal Resources LLC. Exports account for close to 80 percent of the environmental services company’s sales. Also attending the ceremony were Rep. Mike Doyle (right) and Kevin Jones, president of Cardinal Resources (left). (U.S. Department of Commerce photo)

Lyn Doverspike (center), director of the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Export Assistance Center, speaking at an Export Achievement Award ceremony for Cardinal Resources LLC. Exports account for close to 80 percent of the environmental services company’s sales. Also attending the ceremony were Rep. Mike Doyle (right) and Kevin Jones, president of Cardinal Resources (left). (U.S. Department of Commerce photo)

In their business counseling efforts, the Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) often work closely with the International Trade Administration’s U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service (USFCS) through the network of U.S. Export Assistance Centers (USEACs). There are more than 100 USEACs located across the country that are staffed by trade specialists who can provide market intelligence, trade counseling, business matchmaking, and advocacy support. The USEACs can also call on the knowledge and expertise of the USFCS’s overseas staff members, who are located in more than 75 U.S. embassies and consulates.

Lyn Doverspike, director of the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USEAC noted, “SBDCs are a perfect partner for us because they provide trade counseling for new exporters, as our complementary focus is on companies already exporting.” She added that “companies exporting for the first time have a longer timeline before they begin, and SBDCs offer foundational counseling for them before the U.S. Commercial Service steps in and offers them specific exporting assistance.”

This collaboration is especially beneficial in rural areas, commented Vickie Gyenes, a global trade manager who assists small businesses in the Appalachian region of western Pennsylvania through the St. Vincent College SBDC in Latrobe and the St. Francis University SBDC in Ebensburg. “Our clients are all small to medium-sized enterprises and may have experimented with exports in the past, but now see exporting as a vital part of their business,” she said. “SBDCs provide secondary market research; organize educational seminars—from basic training to more complicated topics, such as export controls; and work with the USEACs who have overseas presence and expertise. It’s a joint effort and a great relationship.”

In 2010, the St. Vincent College SBDC’s Center for Global Competitiveness received the President’s E Award for Export Service. This annual award recognizes U.S. companies and organizations that facilitate export trade and contribute to U.S. job growth and competitiveness. From late 2009 through 2010, the center’s efforts directly generated more than $8.9 million in increased export sales for Pennsylvania companies, accounting for more than 150 new or retained jobs

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Bringing the Russian Market to America

April 30, 2011

John McCaslin is Minister Counselor for Commercial Affairs for the U.S. Foreign and Commercial Service in Moscow, Russia.

Left Moscow at the end of April on a long planned six city trek across America to promote the Russian market to US business in a series of group programs and individual meetings.    I built the trip around my last stop, San Francisco, where we will have our annual European Senior Commercial Officer conference the week of May 8.  During the course of my travels I expect to make contact with over three hundred companies and generate significant new business for CS Russia.

First stop Cincinnati.  Whenever I travel around the US I am always impressed with the value of our domestic network and their state and local partners.  My April 28-29 programs in Cincinnati were no exception.

Our local U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC) in Cincinnati and their partner, the European-American Chamber of Commerce, put together a first-class full-day program that included participation of the Russian Trade Representation from Washington, calls on  local exporters, a tour of the DHL international shipping facility and a group program hosted by a major local CS Russia client that included 50 local companies interested in doing business in Russia. The CS Russia client was a machine tool manufacturer that participated in our Aerospace Supply Chain Trade Mission to Russia last October, from which they have already generated several million dollars in sales. So they offered a great testimonial on CS services and how to do business in Russia.  We finished the day with a private VIP dinner hosted by GE at their manufacturing facility where we dined literally in the shadow of a huge GE 90 engine, the most powerful commercial aircraft engine in the world.

All I had to do was show up and give my presentation.

The next day was a series of individual meetings with five local companies hosted by our Cincinnati USEAC.  Part of my standard pitch on opportunities in Russia is that it is a challenging market with excellent prospects in selected sectors, but it is not for everyone.  True to form, of the five companies I met with and counseled, I advised two that they should look elsewhere.  Both were first-time exporters and I explained that the best use of their limited resources at this point in time would be more accessible markets closer to home.  Our Cincinnati USEAC will work closely to help make these clients export ready and identify the most promising markets in the region for them.  The other three, a retail design firm, airplane propeller manufacturer and a large medical device company, all with good international experience, will be working with our CS Russia team soon.

Next stop Baltimore.

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Someone’s in the Kitchen With…

March 26, 2011
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Andrew Wylegala is the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Serivce’s Senior Commercial Officer in Hong Kong.

Day #2 and I am working my way down the Golden State from San Francisco to San Jose on the road to the big Asian exporters’ round-up at USC on Monday, the Asia Pacific Business Outlook Conference.   Colleagues from San Jose’s Export Assistance Center are introducing me to their U.S. clients so I can learn their export needs and introduce Hong Kong’s many business “charms.”  Today I am to trade helix in glass (see previous post) for helix in nucleotides. Those, instant 8th Grade recall tells me, would be the building blocks of our cells, the study of which has spawned San Jose’s latest cluster, a community of scientists and v-cap types forming “The Capital of Biotech.”   Meeting the “brainiacs” and medical pioneers populating this sector makes one proud to “sell American.”  The U.S. biotech industry is one of the innovative champions of our economy. In Northern California, alone, there are over 2,200 biotech companies employing over 267,700 people with an average annual wage of $72,000 a year.  In California, the industry generates an estimated $114 billion in revenues and $15.4 billion in exports.

Tom Moran (left) of Camptologics and Senior Commercial Officer Hong Kong Andrew Wylegala

After I give an hour’s talk about Hong Kong “market opps” to a group of 15 lifesciences companies in San Jose’s gleaming new city hall — and have a Sonoma Chicken fix with the colleagues — it is off to a pair of site visits that bring home the extremes of the innovation–commercialization–export continuum.  The first stop is Mountain View, CA, home of the Googleplex, as well as our target, Mr. Tom Moran, a senior patent attorney and one of three co-founders of biopharmaceutical company Camptologics.  As we sit around the not-just-proverbial kitchen table in Tom Moran’s home, I learn of the anti-cancer drugs which Camptologics hopes to develop and test in the U.S. and China.  Camptologics has just successfully used the Commercial Service to vet partners.  But they have a long road ahead and I am getting a sense of the profound challenges my organization faces in updating our service offerings so we can better help the new types of actors who populate this cutting edge field.

The final stop for the day is further up the line, in terms of geography, and stage/scope of business.  It is time to head to Menlo Park (home of Joan Baez, by the way) to be dazzled by — hold your breath — “a third generation DNA sequencing platform,” a powerful tool that will allow researchers to work better and faster on problems from drug discovery to forensics. Excitement suffuses the Pacific Biosciences campus, for which the firm has recently raised several hundred million in funding from an IPO, and is just one quarter away from realizing exports of its new instruments and consumables.  My San Jose colleague, Gabriela, and I can’t help but be swept up in the thrill, ourselves, as we slip on the protective glasses and clean suits and wonder at a  blur of nanofabrication, chemistry and optics technologies being put on display by this team of world-class scientists and engineers.  But even at this end of the development spectrum, it appears that firms like this one still seek and need USDOC services as much as the back-of-the-napkin set.   I note that one of Pacific’s large, potential customers has just opened up down the road in Hong Kong … and the wheels start turning.   And, as we depart the still-buzzing campus at 5:30 pm, we catch welcome news that our new clients in Menlo Park are considering joining the Biotech Life Science Trade Mission to China which a senior USDOC official will be leading from October 17th of this year.

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Congresswoman Schwartz Presents Export Achievement Certificate to Woman-Owned-Business

April 20, 2010

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Tony Ceballos is the Director of the Philadelphia U.S. Export Assistance Center of the U.S. Commercial Service.

On Monday April 19th, I had the pleasure of joining Congresswoman Allyson Y. Schwartz (PA13) and Trade Specialist Cerrato in commending ISG Office Concepts for their successes in exporting.  ISG’s subsidiary Ancillare who manufactures and distributes pharmaceutical trial materials has recently completed successful trade campaigns to Singapore, Romania, South Korea, Germany, and Columbia.  In recognition of their exemplary success it was with great honor, to present President and CEO of ISG Joanne Santomauro with the Export Achievement Certificate (EAC).  The EAC is a form of accommodation reserved only select companies who embody a strong dedication to American ingenuity and export.  In addition, Bradley Schlegel of the online reporter was on hand to cover the event.  In his article “ISG Office Concepts Inc. honored for large number of exports”, President Santomauro commented “Small business is the engine of growth…It’s wonderful to recognize companies who help the economy grow.”  The event was a success which echoed the growing response of the Commercial Service to the President’s National Export Initiative.

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Majority Leader Joins Congressman Murphy’s International Forum in Pennsylvania

April 14, 2010

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Tony Ceballos is the Director of the Philadelphia U.S. Export Assistance Center of the U.S. Commercial Service.

Congressman Patrick Murphy and House Majority Leader Representative Steny Hoyer headlined what proved to be one of the most engaging events of the season.  With the USEAC’s support, Congressman Murphy (PA08), hosted the International Trade Forum to support the President’s economic priority to create jobs through exports and brought together the federal resources to make that a reality. Congressmen Murphy and Hoyer reaffirmed the importance of the work we are doing at the U.S. Commercial Service in facilitating President Obama’s mission to decrease the American trade deficit.  The event featured a panel of speakers, from CS, Ex-Im Bank, and SBA, presenting on federal export resources to help SMEs enter new markets. Congressmen Murphy and Hoyer remarked on the important role exports play in the nation’s economic recovery and encouraged companies to take advantage of the export assistance provided by federal trade agencies.   The Bucks County Courier Times noted: “The two congressmen stressed the importance of providing businesses with the tools they need to tap global markets because giving those businesses a boost creates jobs and helps the economy grow and prosper. Plus, Murphy added, President Obama wants to double U.S. exports in five years”.

Following the panel, companies had the ability to discuss potential plans of action with several trade specialists who were on hand.  Those who attended left with a clear idea of how to continue to grow their companies.

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