Locally, exports are key to future as well

Of the $50 million in sales Precix does annually, about $11 million comes from overseas, according to CEO David Slutz. And the percentage is only set to increase over the coming years.
“We focus on the export side now,” said Slutz, whose company manufactures seals for the automotive and aerospace industries, and began exporting a decade ago.
By 2016, the company forecasts to be doing up to $75 million in sales. With about 20 percent of the company’s revenue now coming from overseas, Slutz said that is likely to increase to 30 percent by 2016.
Exports are on the rise among small and medium size firms across the country. New Bedford firms like Precix are hoping to cash in on the growth in countries like China, India and Brazil, which Slutz said is like an untouched gold mine for the company.
In April, Massachusetts exported nearly $2 billion in manufactured commodities and $151 million in non-manufactured commodities, according to Census figures. Respectively, that accounts for 2 percent and 0.9 percent of U.S. exports.
In 2011 the New Bedford-Providence-Fall River area did nearly $4.9 billion in exports. That represents a 26.5 percent growth rate from the previous year, compared with the statewide increase of 5.5 percent from 2010 to 2011.
Roy Nascimento, president of the New Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce, said exports are a huge part of the city’s economy — and with the city’s port and the forthcoming South Terminal project, New Bedford is well positioned to take advantage of growth in international trade.
“Ninety five percent of the world’s population is outside the United States, so that’s a market for local businesses,” Nascimento said. “It’s a huge opportunity and it’s a powerful engine for our local economy.”
Nascimento said dredging in the New Bedford harbor has resulted in more large cargo ships arriving, as events like the annual Seafood Buyers Mission, which generated $12 million in sales this year, have also played a role.
But for a small firm hoping to get into exporting, seeking help from groups like the Massachusetts Export Center, an initiative of the Small Business Administration, can make all the difference.
Nancy Lowd, international trade advisor at the Massachusetts Export Center, works with businesses to ready them to expand beyond U.S. borders. The first step is assessing a company’s readiness to begin exporting.
“Then you do a market plan,” Lowd said. “What are the best opportunities for your product? Where is there growth? Where should you be looking at?”
Lowd said small companies normally need help from overseas partners, such as distributors and sales agents. They also need assistance in cutting through the red tape of customs and trade regulations, which is where the Export Assistance Centers can help.
In the case of Precix, Slutz said the firm contracts agents in its overseas markets. It’s important to have feet on the ground, he said, as well as mentors with exporting experience in the respective industry.
“My advice is simple,” he said. “You find somebody you trust, a friend, a business associate, that works in an area you want to work in, and go ask and see how they do it.”
Nancy Lowd at Massachusetts Export Center can be reached at (508) 999-1388. The New Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce phone number is (508) 999-5231.
June 30, 2013 12:00 AM
Source URL: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130630/NEWS/306300324/1001

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