Local companies receive calls from international buyers and interested distributors on a daily basis.
Firms that manufacture and operate in the medical device, optics, photonics, biomedical and electronics industries are in especially high demand. Companies experiencing global success in other regional industries have proactive employees researching and presenting low-cost international sourcing options to pursue.
Taking advantage of these global opportunities, however, can be daunting, particularly for the owners of small to midsize businesses whose companies are profitable and manageable exactly as they are. Calls to Greater Rochester Enterprise's International Business Council illuminate the internal struggle of balancing the risks and rewards of international growth. This struggle is understandable and common.
We often hear:
"There are too many rules, too many regulations. And they're different for each country."
"Everyone knows that country's government is corrupt. How can I trust what anyone tells me, much less know if I understood the deal correctly? I don't speak Arabic."
"I can't read this contract; it's in Chinese!"
Many small-business owners admit that they feel the need to have all the answers. Up to a certain point in their companies' growth, they did. Business owners say the decision to expand into international markets is overwhelming, and many just aren't sure where to start.
Companies often wrestle with issues such as becoming compliant with International Traffic in Arms Regulations to attract new contracts and requests for proposals or deciding if the investment associated with foreign-trade zone use would provide significant longer-term cost reductions. The good news is that many companies and industry professionals in the Rochester region have already gone through these processes. These professionals have answered those questions for themselves and are more than willing to help others succeed.
We've met and talked with dozens of companies as they consider whether to pursue international markets, and the most common response we hear is "Wow, I had no idea almost all of the experts I need are right here."
Essentially, GRE's International Business Council is a network of international trade professionals whose expertise includes global logistics, finance, legal matters, taxation, human resources, compliance, government regulation, market entry, supply chains and translation.
Investors are a balanced combination of manufacturers and service providers. The first piece of advice these practitioners give company leaders as they consider going global is to get connected. The risks associated with international financial transactions, contracts, and exporting and importing goods don't feel overwhelming when you figure out whom you can trust to call for guidance when things don't go as planned.
The Trade Banquet & Expo scheduled for Nov. 7 at the Radisson Hotel Rochester Riverside is one of the last opportunities this year to network and meet with several hundred trade professionals whose experiences and expertise span the spectrum. It's also a celebration of the tremendous international trade activity taking place in the nine-county Greater Rochester region.
Per capita, Rochester ranks among the top 25 major metropolitan exporting regions in the U.S., outranking big economic engines such as Boston, Austin, Philadelphia, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C. The Rochester metro area is also the second-largest exporting region in the state, behind New York City.
The diversity of our exports and proximity to Canada, the region's No. 1 trade partner, are part of the reason for the international success, but each company benefiting from trade has a unique story to share.
The trade banquet subcommittees' difficulty in choosing three finalists for the 2013 Small International Business of the Year (fewer than 500 employees), 2013 Large International Business of the Year (more than 500 employees) and 2013 Best International Service Provider is an indication of the international growth opportunities that many local companies are capitalizing on.
The variety of this year's finalists and the international growth each one has experienced are prime examples of what companies can achieve when they make international business part of their long-term plan for strategic growth.
Finalists for 2013 Large International Business of the Year are Carestream Health Inc., Seneca Foods Corp. and Zotos International.
Crosman Corp., Hammer Packaging Corp. and Liberty Pumps are the finalists for this year's Small International Business of the Year award.
Advanced Language Translation, Mohawk Global Logistics and Supply Chain Services are the three Best International Service Provider finalists.
Robert Sands, president and CEO of Constellation Brands Inc., will be named 2013 International Executive of the Year for leading the $4.75 billion acquisition of Grupo Modelo's U.S. beer business. The successful acquisition made the locally based company the No. 1 beer importer and No. 3 beer company in the U.S.
The evening's keynote presentation will be delivered by Darren Johnson, chief growth officer and vice president of Kodak Alaris Personalized Imaging.
Johnson's presentation, "Kodak Alaris: A 125-Year-Old Startup," will address the company's vision and strategy, as well as how it manages the challenges and opportunities of international business.
Johnson plans to outline what he sees as a bright future for Kodak Alaris-a future that in many ways will arise from Eastman Kodak Co.'s roots. Kodak built its business on four basic principles: mass production at low cost, international distribution, extensive advertising and a focus on the customer.
Johnson says the new company and its name preserve the heritage and legacy of the Kodak brand while also allowing it to act quickly in response to market needs and changes.
When the transition to Kodak Alaris, which includes the personalized imaging and document imaging businesses of Kodak, is complete, Kodak Alaris will have more than 4,700 employees in approximately 30 countries, with revenue of more than $1.3 billion.
Whether your company is large or small, when international opportunity comes knocking, there's no need to say no right away.
A dynamic trade community exists right here in your own back yard. We hope to meet you at the Trade Banquet & Expo next month, but if your trade questions are immediate, please call GRE and we'll get you connected.
Leah George is managing director of international trade at Greater Rochester Enterprise Inc.
10/25/13 (c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.