Archive for the ‘Success Stories’ Category

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Cutting-Edge Tech at Hannover Messe Equals Win-Win for U.S. Small Business and the Planet

August 24, 2016

Joshua Kaplan is an International Trade Specialist at the U.S. Commercial Service Office in Richmond, Virginia.

One important aspect about U.S. companies going global is that they aren’t just looking for profits. In my work, I’ve seen broad commitment from global companies to make positive impact in the markets in which they sell. That definitely adds a sense of reward for me; as I help companies grow through global sales, I see these companies making a positive impact in the world.

Among the 400-plus exhibitors that joined the U.S. Partner Country delegation at Hannover Messe in April was a company called Filtroil, a small business in my city of Richmond, Virginia. Filtroil produces advanced filtration systems for industrial fluids, extending the life of machinery and reducing the amount of potentially harmful waste produced by manufacturers.

Filtration systems can help industrial companies increase productivity and decrease cost, and minimize environmental impact. That’s a major benefit for manufacturers, and the attendees at Hannover Messe took notice of Filtroil’s solutions.  Even before the show began, our Commercial Service team gathered more than 20 prospective leads for the company, and set up meetings between Filtroil CEO Jeremy Leahman and several qualified prospective buyers.

During the week of the show, Jeremy often had a line at his booth, as the thousands of Hannover Messe attendees passed through our U.S. Pavilions and saw innovative U.S. companies like Filtroil.

Just six weeks after the show, Filtroil has already secured enough new global business that the firm has hired additional staff to capitalize on these new opportunities.

That’s an excellent result from a trade show and a great benefit for a small company. It’s also great news for the environment, because both developed and developing economies are looking to improve productivity to meet increased global demand, and innovative products like Filtroil’s will help them do that without a commensurate increase in environmental impact.

It’s one small example of what I believe to be a unique trait of U.S. companies – we don’t just send products to a market and leave with the profits. American companies create solutions that help the world’s producers be more efficient and environmentally-friendly. I’m glad that companies like Filtroil joined our Hannover Messe delegation to show the world how U.S. innovation keeps the world green.

For any U.S. company looking to make a global impact, I encourage you to contact your nearest Commercial Service office and let us help you find your next international market.

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First Native American organization that received President’s “E” Award has been honored in Albuquerque

August 3, 2016

Stephen Collier is a Communications Specialist for the U.S. Commercial Service, Southwest Network

An acknowledgement of true achievement took place July 26 at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center: a celebration in honor of the first Native American organization to win the President’s “E” Award for Export Services.

The American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association was recognized in May by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker along with 122 other companies and organizations across the United States that have contributed to increased exports in their respective industries nationwide.

award

Robert Queen, Director of US Commercial Service-Santa Fe (left), poses with members of the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association and nearby Native American organizations

In attendance at the event were representatives from the offices of Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM). Rep. Grisham represents the New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District, which includes the Albuquerque area. Representatives from several Pueblo nations were also on hand, as was Robert Queen, Director of the U.S. Commercial Service’s Santa Fe office.

In his remarks, Queen, who provides export guidance and support to New Mexico businesses, spoke about the importance of organizations like AIANTA in reaching several audiences and tribes across the nation.

“Most of the projects we work on in the U.S. are manufacturing based,” he said. “Companies manufacture a product, put it in a package, and ship it across the world. But tourism is also an export. It might now show up in the stats, but we know that someone from Germany or a family from Japan come to the U.S., they rent a car, check into a hotel, go to dinner, go to an event and they spend an enormous amount of money. And that’s why we love organizations like AIANTA. We are able to connect with AIANTA directly and work with them on trade shows and at the same time, reach foreign customers. For us, it’s a great partnership.”

In fact, tourism within the Native American community continues to rise. According to the Department of Commerce, in 2014, America had 35 million visitors to its shores, including a record 1.65 million to Native American communities. Those visitors and tourists also spent approximately $7 billion, infusing increased revenues into unique locations like these communities.

And the future projections aren’t expected to change, with a forecasted 30 percent increase in overseas visitors to tribal lands, with visitors spending an approximate $9.5 billion annually. .

Speaking on behalf of Sen. Udall was Joshua Sanchez, a field representative for the senator’s office. While the senator could not be in attendance, Sanchez relayed Sen. Udall’s continued commitment to organizations like AIANTA that are helping to increase awareness of Native American culture to international visitors.

Sherry Rupert, President of the Board of Directors for AIANTA, said the organization takes pride in their international outreach efforts that create opportunities for America’s tribes.

“Overseas travelers are visiting ‘Indian Country’ more than ever before, and international travelers are looking for both something unique and an experience,” she said. “Travelers visiting our tribes have increased dramatically, growing more than 50 percent from 1 million in 2007 to 2014. These are the travelers all of the tourism industry is trying to grab to bring to their destinations. It’s a great opportunity for Indiana Country. AIANTA continues to work to capitalize on this opportunity to set up tribes to compete in the international market. Even though we’ve been here for thousands of years, we are the new and unique experience these visitors are looking for.”

To learn more about the U.S. Commercial Service in New Mexico, visit http://www.export.gov.

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Showing the World that America is—and Will Remain—Open for Business

May 16, 2016

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today honored 123 U.S. companies and organizations that export goods and services overseas during the 2016 President’s “E” Awards ceremony. For the first time in the award’s 54-year history, winners represent every state and the District of Columbia. Of this year’s 123 honorees, 105 are small and medium-sized businesses, and 64 firms are manufacturers.

award

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker Presents the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) with the 2016 Presidential “E” Award for Export Service

Did you know that the United States exported $2.23 trillion worth of goods and services in 2015? This high number would be nearly impossible without the hard work and dedication of our companies, here at home. It’s no secret that there is a continued demand for the world class goods and service that American businesses have to offer. By selling Made-in-America products internationally, 11.5 million Americans can wake up and go to jobs, thanks to the support of exports.

Have you ever seen a company display a huge blue and white banner with a large “E”? During World War II, more than 4,000 “E” pennants were presented to war plants in recognition of production excellence. The famous flag with the big “E” emblazoned on it became a badge of patriotism in action. President Kennedy revived the World War II “E” symbol of excellence to honor and provide recognition to America’s exporters. Thus, the “E” Award Program was established by Executive Order 10978 on December 5, 1961. Today, companies that have been recognized continue this tradition.

This year, 73 companies and organizations were honored with the “E” Award for Exports for demonstrating a sustained increase in export sales over a four-year period. There were 28 companies and organizations that assisted and facilitated export activities and received the “E” Award for Export Service. The “E” Star Award for Exports, which recognizes previous “E” Awardees who have reported four years of additional export growth, was awarded to 17 firms. And, five companies were awarded the “E” Star Award for Export Service, which recognizes previous “E” Awardees that have shown four years of continued support of exporters since first winning the “E” Award.

One of this year’s awardees, The Fairfax Christian School is a kindergarten through 12th grade university-prep school located in Northern Virginia.  For more than 50 years it has served the international community. The school enrolled its first international student in 1963; introduced its English as a Second Language program in the 1970s; began taking F-1 visa students in the 1980s; and, began opening schools overseas in 2010, including China.

The Fairfax Christian School currently has 42 employees and has added jobs as the international program expanded. In 2017, the school will open a new campus and plans to double the size of its international program and staff over the next three years.

Another example of one of this year’s winners is the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)—the State of Hawaii’s tourism agency. Its offices are located in Honolulu on the island of Oahu. HTA’s mission is to increase tourism to markets in North America and internationally to support the ongoing, sustainable growth of Hawaii’s economy. The organization has been exporting for 18 years. It currently has 23 employees, and jobs have been added to accommodate business resulting from exporting.

American companies are nominated for “E” Awards through the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service office network, located within the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration. To learn more about the “E” Awards and the benefits of exporting, visit www.export.gov.

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Sustainable Practices Help Wente Family Estates Land New Distributor, Make Sales

April 15, 2016

Susan Crawford is a Communications Specialist for the International Trade Administration 

The U.S. Commercial Service (CS) Oakland, the consul general of Norway, the mayor of Livermore, California and others celebrated Wente Vineyard’s successful foray into the Norwegian wine market at a recent bi-lateral meeting held at Wente Family Estates. The Livermore, California-based vintner has shipped 3 wine-filled cargo containers to Norway since December 2015, and expects that number to triple by the end of 2016 with an approximate value of over $500,000.

Success doesn’t happen overnight, and this journey began last year when Rod Hirsch, director of CS Oakland, encouraged Wente Family Estates, a Certified California Sustainable Winegrower, to participate in the CS’ Discover Global Markets: Sustainable Solutions conference that was held in Silicon Valley in 2015.

“I knew that the vintner’s sustainable initiatives would be a major competitive advantage in the right market, such as Norway, which values sustainability and green growing practices. I wanted the firm to have the chance to investigate new potential markets,” Hirsch explained.

CS specialists from 20 international markets, including Norway, counseled conference attendees on market opportunities. A meeting between Hirsch, Norway-based CS Commercial Specialist Bjarke Frederiksen and Wente Vineyards coincided with a new listing opportunity with the Norwegian Liquor Government Monopoly.   Wente Vineyards Morning Fog Chardonnay from Livermore Valley was selected in a government procured tender; soon Wente Vineyards was on the path to a successful listing in the Norwegian market. “The concept of Sustainable Farming has been an instrumental selling feature of our wine in Norway” says Michael Parr, Vice President of International Sales for Wente Family Estates.

“The CS strives to connect the dots between U.S. exporters and appropriate international markets and it is very rewarding to know that we played a role in helping Wente Family Estates expand and market their brand in Norway,” Hirsch said.

In addition to assisting Wente Family Estates in Norway, the CS previously helped the winery crack the competitive Australian wine market. CS Oakland worked with CS Australia and the U.S. ambassador to organize promotional events at each of the three Australian consulates in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.

Hirsch and the CS Oakland team can help Oakland area firms identify and enter new markets or expand exports to existing markets. For more information, please visit: http://www.export.gov/california/oakland/.

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U.S. Exporter Finds “Lofty” Niche in Light Lift Technology

January 14, 2016

Curt Cultice is a Senior Communications Specialist in ITA’s U.S. Commercial Service

John Falls always had an affinity for engineering. One day, after taking advice from his brother-in-law, Falls partnered with long-time friend Ron Williams to pursue a solution that would allow people to safely and easily clean chandelier fixtures and replace bulbs without using a ladder. The two began building motors and winches that, when attached to pulleys, created a system that could raise and lower a chandelier. Soon, they were marketing their product to lighting showrooms around Memphis and Nashville, thus beginning Aladdin Light Lift of Huntsville, Alabama.

Chanelier

No ladder needed here. Aladdin Light Lift technology allows for easy maintenance through the lowering and raising of chandeliers, as shown by company representative, Kelly Mullins. The Alabama-based firm sells its products globally and stands to benefit from the TPP.

Falls and Williams were onto something, and by late 1990, the year of the company’s founding, the firm was selling an average of 10-30 motors and winches a month. The company branched out to area lighting representatives and set up distribution channels in Tennessee, Arkansas and Georgia, before selling to independent lighting representatives nationwide. Now, more than 25 years later, the business has sold 300,000 units in the United States and overseas.

Zach Barry worked as a product technician with John Falls in the early days of the company prior to being promoted to international sales manager in 2009. As Barry explains, Aladdin Light Lift services two primary markets: residential and commercial. The firm’s pre-wired pulley system of high-quality winches and motors support up to 1,000 pounds, with the 200-pound capacity model being the most popular in the United States. Overseas, its biggest sellers have a heavy-duty capacity of between 700 and 1,000 pounds, satisfying a strong niche market that gives the company a competitive edge over competitors from China and South Korea.

Selling to Trans-Pacific Partnership Markets

In the United States, about 80 percent of Aladdin Light Lift’s sales are residential and 20 percent commercial. But it’s the opposite internationally. Barry initiates about half the business, and the rest comes from referrals and word-of-mouth promotion. In 1996, the company made its first foray into exporting by making sales to Canada, and continues to expand its overseas sales today.

Once enacted, the company stands to benefit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). By reducing or eliminating tariffs as well as non-tariff barriers, TPP will give U.S. businesses improved access to 11 Pacific Rim markets which collectively representing 40 percent of global GDP.

Presently, Aladdin Light Lift sells to distributors in 14 markets across the Middle East, Europe, Africa and Asia, including the TPP countries of Canada, Japan, Australia and Singapore. In fact, “The TPP countries account for nearly two-thirds of our overall export sales,” adds Barry. “We see the anticipated natural saturation and assimilation of more U.S. products and services into those markets as a real potential benefit.”

As Barry points out, that is exactly what resulted from the North American Free Trade Agreement, starting in the mid-1990s. The agreement increased overall demand for U.S. products and services and helped make Canada Aladdin Light Lift’s largest market. The company expects that increased demand for U.S. design, architecture, and construction firms doing business in TPP markets will in turn facilitate demand for Aladdin’s products.

While most TPP countries already have duty-free entry for Aladdin Light Lift’s products, implementation of the TPP agreement would immediately eliminate a five percent duty in New Zealand and Malaysia, opening doors for possible future sales. In addition, Brunei’s 20-percent tariff would be eliminated after seven years.

“Asia is a great market for us, and in places like Singapore and Japan, they are building upwards due to space restrictions,” says Barry. “That means lots of apartments and condos with low ceilings and few chandeliers. So, in these markets, we are focused on the solid commercial opportunities in hospitality, such as hotels and restaurants—and, most importantly, many of these TPP countries have the wealth to keep on building and buying.”

Aladdin Light Lift also does great business in Australia, where its customer base extends into the realm of the rich and famous, such as Angus Young, lead guitarist and songwriter of the Australian hard rock band AC/DC, whose home was outfitted with Aladdin Light Lift products. That “rocks.”

The “Go-To” U.S. Commercial Service

Barry credits much of the company’s international success to the U.S. Commercial Service (CS), describing it as part of his “export team.” Leveraging export counseling, market research, international partner searches, business matchmaking, and “general hand-holding,” Barry has connected with new global distributors through CS trade professionals in Alabama and Tennessee and at U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide.

“I was first introduced to the CS in Memphis,” he says. “Had I not been, I doubt our firm would be selling much beyond Canada right now, nor would I be working at this level with the company. When things are slow in the U.S. economy, we need to be selling overseas to keep up our sales, and vice versa.”

As for exporting, Barry says that if his company can do it, any company can. He notes the success of the firm’s niche product, and that, without exporting, the company would be minus as much as $400,000 since 2010, with fewer employees. But with exporting, its revenues have grown an average of $200,000 a year, with sales abroad accounting for eight percent of total revenue. The company has also grown from two to 15 employees since its founding. Today, John Falls serves as company president, and his wife Susan, as executive vice president. Ron Williams continued to offer encouragement and support after buying out of the firm years ago.

“Exporting keeps us competitive because it forces us to adjust to meet demands of the international marketplace,” says Barry. “We are always looking to take a page out of a competitor’s book.”

For Aladdin Light Lift, that means continuously improving its product line while monitoring trends in consumer behavior. As for lofty ceilings, will more international consumers “see the light” by hanging more chandeliers with Aladdin Light Lift technology? Barry is sure of it.

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Doing business on the ‘Bayou’ just got a little spicier

November 30, 2015

Brittany Banta is the Acting Director for the U.S. Commercial Service’s Export Assistance Center in New Orleans.

Louisiana’s companies have something new to be proud about.

Earlier this month, the Louisiana District Export Council was recognized as the District Export Council of the Year for 2015. The DEC won the award during the National DEC Forum in Washington, D.C., and I was honored to participate in this special ceremony.

DEC Award

Alta Baker (L), Chairwoman of the Louisiana District Export Council (DEC), and Brittany Banta (R), Acting Director for the New Orleans U.S. Export Assistance Center and the Louisiana DEC’s Executive Secretary accept the International Trade Administration’s 2015 DEC of the Year Award.

Considering there are 59 DECs across the United States, winning this award is a big deal. And Louisiana companies exporting right now, or thinking about exporting, should take notice.

Since the fall of 2014 members of the Louisiana DEC have been quite busy. In December of that year, the DEC took part in the New Orleans’s International Workboat Show, where connected U.S. businesses with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency. In October of 2014, on the 100th Anniversary of the Panama Canal, the DEC led 50 business leaders from across several industries to the Central American nation. Leaders from industries to include the port, health care, higher education, seafood and economic development all attended, providing increased awareness between Panamanian importers and Louisiana businesses.

And several members of the Council played a major role in helping Copa Airlines secure the only direct flight service between New Orleans and Panama. Talk about impactful!

What does all this mean for Louisiana exporters? It means our dedicated District Export Council is ready to support small- and medium-sized businesses to help them successfully export anywhere around the world.

But it also means these volunteers have a wealth of knowledge about how to export the right way, and I hope companies will take advantage of their services.

Led by Alta Baker, the DEC’s chairwoman and CEO of Safe Haven Enterprises LLC in Jennings, the Louisiana DEC has worked tirelessly to educate and support small businesses across the state, encouraging them to take advantage of international opportunities.

And with more than 95 percent of consumers living outside of the United States, companies should certainly take advantage.

DECs work closely with local U.S. Commercial Service Export Assistance Centers — like ours in New Orleans — to educate and inform companies on exporting and international trade. If you’re interested in becoming one of the more than 3,700 companies exporting from Louisiana, email us  and visit our website for more information.

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Mission Global: Vets Go Global Initiative Assists and Empowers Veteran-Owned Businesses to Expand in International Markets

November 10, 2015

Guest blog post by Murat Muftari, International Trade Specialist, International Trade Administration’s U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service. Muftari also is a former U.S. Special Forces soldier.

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

“History has shown that when you give veterans an opportunity to succeed, they go above and beyond. And we as a nation owe them those opportunities to succeed,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald when recently announcing the expansion of the Veterans Economic Opportunity Initiative – a collaborative initiative to increase economic opportunities for veterans.

Vets Go Global

Vets Go Global Initiative Connects Veterans to Global Markets

As we approach Veterans Day this Wednesday, November 11, let us take a moment to honor America’s veterans for their sacrifice and willingness to serve for the common good of a grateful nation. Their service continues well beyond the battlefield and into the commercial and private sector where transitioning veterans continue their mission and turn to entrepreneurship at greater rates than the rest of the U.S. population. In fact, more than 2.4 million U.S. businesses are owned by veterans, representing about nine percent of all American firms and employing an estimated 5.8 million workers, with $1.22 trillion in sales receipts. Our veterans are significant contributors to America’s global leadership in business and innovation, supporting jobs and furthering our national security.

Although veteran-owned firms (9.9 percent) are less likely to export than minority firms (17.5 percent) and women-owned firms (12.1 percent), veteran-owned firms that do export are often bigger and have more employees than other firms that export. Veteran-owned firms employ an average of 68 employees, compared to 42 employees for women-owned firms and 21 employees for minority-owned firms.

Since only 9.9 percent of veteran-owned firms export, the Department of Commerce sees this as a tremendous opportunity to assist and increase the amount of veteran-owned firms that export through the Vets Go Global initiative, translating to an increase in bottom-lines and jobs.

The Vets Go Global team is committed to assisting veteran-owned businesses through customized export programs and resources. Our team is working diligently to support veteran-owned businesses by:

  • Providing customized export counseling on the frontlines of veteran-owned business events.  This is happening next week at theNational Veteran Small Business Engagement (NVSBE)Conference in Pittsburgh, Pa., November 17-19, where the Vets Go Global team will be exhibiting and engaging with veterans through a seminar and one-on-one counseling opportunities.
  • Collaborating and working with theVeteran Institute for Procurement (VIP) to put together an international business curriculum for veteran-owned businesses. Veteran-owned businesses who graduate the three-day program will then have an opportunity to develop an export strategy and write an export plan for international markets through a veteran focused ExporTech, an export acceleration system for achieving profitable growth.
  • Our team is also working with veteran-focused business associations that will lead trade missions to markets in Latin America and Asia focusing on industry sectors that show the most significant trends for opportunity in these markets. The mission destinations and targeted industry sectors are based on ITA’sTop Markets Series, which is designed to help U.S. exporters identify their next export market by comparing opportunities across borders.

Our Vets Go Global team will continue to collaborate with private and public organizations that offer resources to veterans by presenting additional avenues of economic opportunity to veteran-owned businesses.

Our team calls on the veteran-owned business community to continue to rise to the occasion when opportunity knocks and go above and beyond by joining Mission Global and learning more about the existing export opportunities and resources. To get started, contact the Vets Go Global team at vets@trade.gov or contacting your nearest Export Assistance Center.

As Veterans Day approaches, I would like to personally thank the brave Americans who have served – as well as their families – and those who continue to serve our country as members of the Armed Forces.

Follow the Vets Go Global team on Twitter and join our Vets Go Global LinkedIn Group Page for news about upcoming initiatives!

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