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Doug Barry is a Senior International Trade Specialist in the International Trade Administration’s Global Knowledge Center.
CTC Global Corporation is a California-based company that makes transmission wires and sells them in 28 countries. CTC has 110 employees and 70 percent of its revenues come from international sales.
And the company continues to expand to new markets. While attending the Discover Global Markets Forum in Los Angeles earlier this year, CTC signed a deal with a new distributor in Portugal, with the help of the International Trade Administration’s Commercial Service.
Marv Sepe manages the company and recently shared details of the company’s international success with Doug Barry, a trade specialist with the International Trade Administration.
Barry: You’ve gone into all these markets in less than eight years. How did you do it?
Sepe: Only 15 percent of the world’s transmission wire is sold in the United States. Eighty-five percent is sold outside of the country. So if you are going to serve the larger part of the market, you need to be outside of the United States. Many of us that were there when the business started were not afraid to go offshore at all in order to sell what we source and make in the U.S.
Barry: What has been the biggest challenge for you in building this business?
Sepe: We deal in a very conservative market. When you go to a utility in any country or the United States and say, “We want to change the way you deliver power to something more efficient,” people are quite skeptical. Our biggest barrier really has been the proof–to tell the customers that this is a new way to do things. We give them a demonstration, and we wait.
Barry: How has the U.S. Commercial Service helped you?
Sepe: They’ve been very helpful. My first involvement with them was back in 2010. I participated in a trade mission to China with the Secretary of Commerce. It was the first renewable energy or efficient energy mission to China. We got a good sense of the capabilities of their team, and we’ve kept up ever since.
The Export Assistance Center in Irvine is quite close to us, and I know those guys very well. We deal with them all the time. Now we’re using the team in Europe to do partner searches for us in several different countries right now.
Barry: What would you recommend to other U.S. companies that are considering expanding their international sales?
Sepe: Go on a Department of Commerce trade mission. It’s phenomenal as far as raising brand recognition as a company that delivers high efficiency and clean energy. We probably couldn’t have gotten that any other way.