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International Trade Administration’s Commercial Service Makes Exporting Easier for Small Businesses

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In early 2011, Vanport Outfitters received its first commercial overseas order from Japan. That is when they started working with the U.S. Commercial Service, which assisted them throughout the export process. Some challenges Vanport faced included building brand awareness and finding quality contacts overseas to do business with. To address these issues, Vanport used U.S. Commercial Service business matchmaking services. “As a small company, few have heard of us, and are already selling competing products from better known firms. We find that we have to work hard to demonstrate that we’re serious about our craft. We really enjoyed working with the U.S. Commercial Service and found that the services provided helped make selling our goods outside the country easy, and we are continuing to build our brand awareness,” said Thomas Craig, Business Manager at Vanport Outfitters.

The company decided to focus on their export potential and actively pursue other markets, and in doing so, relied on assistance provided by the Trade Information Center, including market research, trade counseling, and assistance with export regulations. The result was that Vanport Outfitters has received additional orders from ten different countries, and is planning to export into East Asia, Oceania, Europe, and Canada.

Their success is because of the high-quality product Vanport Outfitters produces, but also because of the help the U.S. Commercial Service has provided them at key junctions along their path to exporting. Small business that would like to tap into the 95% of consumers who live outside of the United States, should start with the Begin Exporting Questionnaire to assess their readiness for exporting. Small businesses that are exporting to one market and are interested in expanding into new markets should visit the Expand Into New Markets webpage to examine complementary markets, track global demand of the product, talk with peer groups and find contact information for a local trade specialist. Small businesses can also use the Direct Line Program to engage directly via teleconference with U.S. Ambassadors overseas. The program is open to American companies that are already in the country where the Ambassador serves or which are interested in expanding their businesses into those countries.

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