EVOLVE Business and Professional Magazine May 2019 - Page 16

ARE YOU READY TO GO GLOBAL? by Eleanore Osborne Y our company is successful. You have a good, proven product. And now you want to share it with the World. There’s a strong case to be made for taking your business global. Just ask Jill McLaughlin, Trade Program Manager at the Florida Small Business Development Center at UCF International. She makes a great case for considering international opportunities. “When you consider that 95 percent of the world’s customers are located beyond U.S. borders, you can’t help but appreciate that there is a huge opportunity for growth.” Your competitors are going international, why aren’t you? she asks. “If your company is not exporting, you are literally missing the boat.” Florida’s strategic geographic positioning and abundance of resources make it a prime location for international trade. Research shows that 96% of Florida’s exporters are small to medium-sized businesses, and statistics say that businesses expanding internationally Jill McLaughlin grow an average of 15% faster and are 12% more profitable. So what’s your next step? Build an Export Strategy Once you have decided to start exporting, develop an export plan based on market research and internal assessments. McLaughlin noted that many companies that start exporting do so haphazardly rather than with a well thought-out plan. Expert free and low cost assistance is available through the Florida SBDC’s International Trade Services, the Florida SBDC and Enterprise Florida. According to McLaughlin, “Most companies that export are better positioned to ride out the fluctuations in the US economy, experience faster growth and are more profitable. Exporting is not just for big business. “Get your passport renewed and come see us at the Florida SBDC,” she said. “We are here to help!” From Seasonal to Year Round James Gibson When James Gibson and his group founded Adsil, a coatings company, in 1998, their market was the HVAC industry, where their corrosion preventive material could extend the life of air conditioners and also make them more efficient. Gibson, now retired, is a volunteer mentor for SCORE, Service Corps of Retired Executives. Although successful, sales for Adsil, headquartered in Daytona Beach, were seasonal. “We needed to get into an area that | 16 | EVOLVE BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONAL MAGAZINE had summer when we had winter. Our goal was to take the business global to supplement lost winter sales. The vision was South America and SE Asia, with the former via a Global distributor of HVAC units, the latter to establish local distribution. A major air-conditioning company, already working with Adsil, opened doors in South America, the Caribbean, China and Vietnam. “Now we were exporting half of the year.” Going global wasn’t simple. The product had to be registered in each country, meet strict shipping standards because it contains alcohol, and have Chemtrac, a company that handles shipments of hazardous materials, on alert if needed. Attorneys worldwide were engaged, as was the World Trade Organization to monitor and protect Adsil’s MicroGuard trademark. Packaging, labeling, instructions in a number of languages, plus training were all part of going global. Manufacturing and shipping are handled through a paint manufacturer in Indiana, but management is from Daytona Beach. “Every month we have about 10 people who come to Daytona Beach for training.” Product uses and lines have expanded at Adsil, and now China, Vietnam and South American markets make up about 40% of sales. While you might think that sales are the first consideration, Gibson says otherwise. “You need to have a market. Before we went crazy, we worked with an A/C company, doing the research. Who would use our product? Who wouldn’t?” To raise money you need facts. “You can always think your ideas are great,” he said, but research may show that, “Nah, it is not gonna work.” Other factors to consider when going global: exchange rates, tariffs, registrations, warranties, contracts, patent protection, marketing and even bribes at ports of entry. But first, said Gibson, set up a spreadsheet, estimating two years of potential sales, all the expenses. “There are tools, a number of templates, a lot of ratios you have to know.” Look to Others For Advice “Many Volusia County manufacturers are players in the global market, “ said Jayne Fifer, President/CEO, Volusia Manufacturers Association (VMA). “They are exporting their products around the world and importing parts to expand their product lines.” More are entering this market and look to their fellow manufacturers to learn