‘Taking Your Business International’: The Experts on Exports

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ROCKFORD, April 16 — More than 30 business representatives learned about becoming more efficient and profitable by attending the “Taking Your Business International” workshop, held today at NIU Rockford.

Subject areas included determining export readiness, finding international trade partners, navigating global logistics and steering clear of legal risks.

Speakers who promoted international trade resources included:

  • Pierre D. Clement, UPS Customs and Trade Compliance, Regulatory Affairs Manager
  • Karen Glavin, marketing manager of the Rockford UPS facility;
  • Patrick Hope, local director of the U.S. Export Assistance Center, called “the best-kept secret” of export resources;
  • Terrance Hall, local director of the Illinois SBDC International Trade Center (summary of resources also here).

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Clement offered detailed layers of guidance on the documentation side and encouraged businesses to “do your homework and “seek help.”

But he also spoke to everyone’s common sense. “Know your customers. If you don’t, you’re setting yourself up for major failure,” he said. For example, sending the wrong flowers or writing in the wrong color could denote death in another country. Or something as simple as crossing your feet while sitting can be an insult.

Clement also showed how understanding your partner’s culture can work to your advantage. He once complimented a man on his tie and the man took it off and gave it to him. So later, Clement returned the favor after receiving a compliment on his tie, and the man was flattered that Clement remembered the gesture. “I made a friend for life,” he said.

Local companies shared their expertise and advice as well:

  • John Dal Santo, MCJ, which manufactures a non-invasive test for fatigue and/or drug use, currently in use by law enforcement and medical facilities in more than 10 countries. The firm’s exports have grown from zero in 2004 to more than $7 million in 2007. Like Clement, Dal Santo underlined the importance of knowing the culture and values of a country. He advised to be humble. “Don’t be an arrogant American.”
  • Michael Schubert, Meridian, which creates and delivers robust communication solutions supporting end-to-end print and marketing collateral management programs.
  • Craig Russell, Monitor Technologies, which offers superior solutions in level monitoring, solids flow detection, particle emission monitoring and bin aeration.

Mr. Wijayanto, Director of the Indonesia Trade Promotion Center in Chicago, also made a presentation. He said “the potential of Indonesia is very huge.”

Indonesia is the largest producer of palm oil in the world and also known for coffee, cocoa and rubber products. The country has the 10th-largest economy in the world. In 2010, U.S. exports to Indonesia equaled $6.94 billion; last year that number topped $8 billion.

For a photo gallery from the morning, see the RAEDC Facebook page.

See UPS Illinois on Twitter here.

Why this event is important (key stats):

  1. Exports are an emerging and booming business segment in the Rockford Region, up a record 35 percent in 2013, the most recent year with data available.
  2. Nearly 96% of the world’s consumers live outside the U.S., yet only 1% of U.S. small businesses tap global markets for revenue.
  3. The total value of Rockford Region exports — $2.53 billion — places Rockford 89th in the nation’s metro areas in exports.

(Sources for #1 and #3 are U.S. Census Bureau and the International Trade Administration, both segments of the Department of Commerce. Source for #2 is the Small Business Administration.)

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