Healthcare Success Stories
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The Madison County Commission (MCC), North Alabama International Trade Association (NAITA), and the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) were seeking to establish lasting partnerships in the EU to build a presence, investment, and a network for North Alabama biotechnology and aerospace firms in Europe.
In 2015, U.S. Commercial Services in Alabama, Brussels, and The Hague planned, organized, and implemented an Alabama Bioscience Trade Mission to Belgium and the Netherlands led by Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield. Two representatives of Madison County and NAITA were counseled on various aspects of these markets and provided meetings with various trade and investment agencies and organizations. Through contacts and exposure provided by the U.S. Commercial Service during the Alabama Bioscience Trade Mission to Belgium and the Netherlands, Madison County/NAITA formed a strategic partnership and MOU with the Wallonia Foreign Trade and Investment Agency (AWEX) and the Open Worldwide Innovation Network (OWIN) focused on leveraging each regions respective aerospace and biotechnology clusters, capitalizing on commercial and academic collaboration to expand North Alabama business opportunities in Europe, North America, and Asia.
This partnership brings about more opportunities to penetrate the market in Europe for North Alabama aerospace and biotechnology firms and connect with buyers, investors, and networks in the EU market. It also provides new collaboration opportunities for North Alabama academic institutions working in these sectors.
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Stella Technology, a Health-IT products and services company, contacted the U.S. Commercial Service in Silicon Valley to request assistance in entering new markets in the Middle East.
CS Silicon Valley first met Stella Technology to discuss the company’s background, product, and international goals. Stella was well-established in the U.S. and believed the way to sustain growth would be to use their expertise in the Middle East markets. After consultation, the adopted strategy was to acquire high-level contacts and leads by leveraging the CS’ worldwide network, while Stella finalized a joint venture (JV) agreement in parallel with a local company in Saudi Arabia.
In Bahrain, the CS Partner Post successfully arranged a high-level meeting with the Ministry of Health. In Kuwait & Saudi Arabia, Stella Technology participated in a trade mission that included government and private sector briefings about the healthcare opportunities, one-on-one business matchmaking meetings, networking opportunities, and site visits to hospitals and ministries. The mission was timed to coincide with the Saudi American Healthcare Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where the delegates were highlighted among U.S. and Saudi healthcare leaders. From the U.S., the Stella Technology team separately received one-on-one counseling with CS Qatar and CS UAE to discuss their service-market fit and market entrance strategy.
As a direct result of CS assistance, Stella Technology was well-positioned with market intelligence as they finalized JV negotiations with the regional partner, which they successfully concluded this year. Together with the new local representatives Stella is finalizing two potential contracts in Saudi Arabia, one of which has led Stella to develop a brand new, full blown Electronic Health Record (EHR) system for Primary Care Centers. Stella is also pursuing the business contacts acquired from their trips to the Middle East.
Salim Kizaraly, SVP Business Development and Founder, had this to say about the CS team’s assistance: “The Silicon Valley CS team, along with the entire network of CS representatives at US Embassies in Dubai, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, have been critical to helping us expand our footprint in the Middle East, where demand for the products and deep healthcare domain expertise Stella brings to the table is high. There are many risks and unknowns when a small company like ours is venturing outside the U.S., and having the support and trusted, independent advice from the CS provided the assurances we needed to move forward. Thank you to Sheryl Hitomi, and the entire CS team, for the great assistance you provided to us. It was invaluable, and much needed.”
Chinook Medical Gear Inc. is a small company nestled in rural Colorado that sells emergency survival tactical first aid kits to military, law enforcement, fire rescue, and adventure seekers. Over the years, the Denver Export Assistance Center has provided assistance to the company on various topics such as identifying overseas distributors, understanding governmental regulatory processes, and completing credit inquires. Typically, Chinook contacts the Denver office to inquire about governmental guidelines for registering the kit, because certain countries require each item in the kit to be registered separately. In 2016, Mr. Michael Davenport, Vice President of Procurement, contacted the Denver office to ask for guidance on the registration process for Saudi Arabia, and help with identifying a distributor and locating additional organizations that focus on the region.
STS Marquez recommended the company register for an upcoming webinar organized by the U.S. Saudi Business Council called "Opportunities in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Region", and suggested the company call Mr. Edward Burton, President of the Saudi Business Council, to inquire about upcoming programs, reports, and country contacts. Marquez suggested they follow on with a visit to the region through a trade mission or by requesting the Gold Key Service.
Although the company didn't participate in the trade mission organized by the Healthcare Team or order the Gold Key Service, they did register for the Saudi Arabia webinar organized by the Saudi Business Council. Independently, Chinook made contact with a distributor they found from an outside source and asked the Denver office for assistance with vetting the company. STS Marquez sent a message to Mr. Maher Siblini, Senior Commercial Specialist, in Riyadh to inquire about the company, and amazingly Maher confirmed he knew them quite well. He was not aware of any financial difficulties that the company was currently experiencing but suggested that since most of their dealings are with the government, Chinook should be rather cautious. He highly recommended that they deal with them be on a secured basis, and encouraged the company to seek local legal counsel for their contractual agreement. Chinook was given several names of law firms that specialized in credit contractual agreements for the Middle East.
Chinook confirmed an agreement was signed with Thimar Al Jazirah Company and the company has received $50,000 in initial orders and payments with an additional $120,000 of orders pending for the remainder of the calendar year.
Protein Sciences is a Meriden, CT based manufacturer of the flu vaccine. The company sells product internationally and was interested in hearing about new international opportunities for their products in order to increase their export sales.
In October 2015, CS Doha’s Anissa Lahreche contacted Middletown US Commercial Service with a trade lead from a Qatar based firm interested in working with Protein Sciences. Later that month, CS coordinated a conference call directly between Protein Sciences and Al Sawari Group to discuss product information, business objectives, and Al Sawari’s plan for selling Protein Sciences’ products. After Al Sawari provided further market intelligence on the potential for Protein Sciences’ products in Qatar, Dan Adams traveled to Qatar (April 2016) to finalize negotiations with Al Sawari Group. Prior to these negotiations, he met with CS Doha to discuss Al Sawari Group in greater detail as well as general information/best practices on license agreements in Qatar.
This agreement will help Protein Sciences increase their export sales in the burgeoning market of Qatar and other neighboring Gulf Countries.
Sancilio & Co. is a pharmaceutical company that focuses on developing and marketing a variety of products, including those based on the proprietary Advanced Lipid Technologies. As a new to export company Sancilio & Co. was looking to find markets for their products overseas. They needed guidance to develop their export strategy and identify countries to target to find distributors for their pharmaceuticals.
Sancilio and Co. found an entryway to Southeast Asia by leveraging the resources of the Federal and State governments. In 2014 they participated in a Florida Trade Mission to Singapore with the objective of identifying a distributor to represent their products. After meeting several potential distributors identified by the U.S. Commercial Service in Singapore, Sancilio and Co. selected the one that was best aligned to represent them. The relationship with this distributor has helped them sell their products in Singapore and they are now looking into expanding this relationship to enter other Asian markets.
Georgia-based Synensys has helped more than 500 hospitals around the world pursue zero preventable harm by measuring and improving quality and patient safety, eliminating the costs of under-performing processes, and, ultimately, saving lives. When CEO Stephen Powell of Synensys was looking to introduce the company’s patient safety and leadership training programs in Qatar, he contacted the U.S. Commercial Service (CS).
In March 2015, CS was introduced to Synensys CEO Stephen Powell through the International Trade Administration’s Office of Middle East and North Africa. CS met with the leadership team at Synensys, providing an overview of available resources, programs, and services available through the CS. Qatar was identified as a top country prospect for Synensys and CS introduced Synensys to the local Healthcare Specialist to discuss potential services. The Healthcare Specialist met with Stephen to discuss strategies on the Qatari market to include a possible Gold Key service during Fall 2015.
In 2016, Synensys requested a Business Facilitation Service (BFS) requesting contact information for a number of Qatari Government organizations and local hospitals to include the Qatar Ministry of Public Health. Healthcare CS was able to provide the contact information for the Ministry of Public Health contacts and Synensys made contact with key Ministry of Public Health Officials.
In September of 2016, Synensys Powell notified the USCS that the Qatar Ministry of Public Health awarded Synensys a contract "to improve the monitoring and evaluation of patient experience of care across Qatar as part of a larger Health Services Provider Agreement to collect, analyze and report health quality data and outcomes throughout Qatar healthcare system."
CocoJava Hawaiian Coffee Facial Scrubs produces facial scrub infused with Hawaiian coffee. Entrepreneur Valerie Joseph contacted the U.S. Commercial Service office in Honolulu seeking guidance on how to enter the Japan market. In 2016 she participated in the Tokyo International Gift Show, a State of Hawaii trade activity, and was in contact with a potential partner. Ms. Joseph required guidance on whether the contact was qualified and would make a good partner in country. She also wanted to explore other potential partner opportunities in Japan before committing to one.
CS counseled Valerie Joseph Boutique on their export strategy, the Japan market, legal aspects of exporting, and vetting partners in the Japan market. Ms. Joseph was introduced to CS Tokyo, and they held a conference call to discuss the prospective partner and the Japan market. CS Tokyo offered to facilitate a Business Facilitation Service promotion at the January 2017 Cosme Tokyo trade show, which would be the ideal platform to promote Valerie Joseph's CocoJava Facial Scrub product. At the show, CS Tokyo personally displayed and promoted Valerie Joseph's CocoJava Scrub product.
As a direct result of CS Tokyo promotion as Cosme Tokyo, Valerie Joseph identified 7 interested partners, 6 from the Japan market and 1 from the China market. Following CS introductions, Ms. Joseph met with several of the prospective partners.
J.D. Honigberg International, Inc. (JDH), based in Illinois, is an export management company that works in the capacity of a sales agent as well as a distributor for a number of U.S. companies, including medical device companies. JDH currently represents more than a dozen U.S. medical device and supply companies that are interested in expanding to overseas market. JDH is looking for Japanese partners for some of the products they represent.
CS Tokyo’s Senior Commercial Specialist, Hiroyuki Hanawa, has been working with JDH for many years. SCS Hanawa has had multiple counseling sessions with JDH at MEDICA in Germany under the Showtime program in addition to frequent e-mail communications about the Japanese market and potential partners. JDH has participated in CS Tokyo’s catalog display programs at Medical Japan Show in 2016 and 2017. At MEDICA 2014, CS Tokyo introduced a Japanese company called AsOne, the largest catalog retailer of medical products in Japan. The circulation for their catalog for products for hospitals/clinics called “Navis” is 170,000 copies, and the sales amount from Navis is approximately $110 million. AsOne indicated their initial interest in products from one of the companies that JDH represents, Bowman Manufacturing Company Inc. Bowman is a Washington based company that manufactures medical dispensers and various personal protective products. Since then, CS Tokyo has facilitated communications between JDH and AsOne regarding Bowman’s products and others. AsOne met with JDH at MEDICA in 2015 and also visited JDH’s office in the United States in 2016, as well as several of the US factories that JDH represents.
In March 2017, JDH informed CS Tokyo that As One has decided to include the Bowman dispensers in AsOne’s 2018 catalog. Since JDH has no prior experience in the Japanese market for this kind of product, it is difficult for the company to forecast expected sales, especially in the first year. However, according to the company, based on sales achieved in other countries, the company expects around $50k. The company is confident that first business with AsOne will lead to more business for some of our other factories. In fact, the company is discussing with AsOne a few more products that could be added in AsOne's 2018 catalog, including X-Ray protective aprons from Shielding International for which CS Tokyo displayed at Medical Japan Show in 2017.
Palko Services is a family owned nutritional supplement business based in Michigan City, Indiana which opened in 1984.
Originally a purely domestic distributor, Palko Services decided that after receiving inquiries from overseas that they should consider going global. Palko had their first international sale in 2013. Palko now sells into 15 international markets. In 2015, Palko just reached over $10 million in sales.
Palko wanted to expand into the Guatemalan market but didn’t know how to complete the requirements to enter the market, so they contacted the Commercial Service office in Indianapolis for help. CS Indiana has worked with Palko for the last few years on overcoming market access issues, providing market intelligence and giving in-depth export compliance counseling to assist the company with selling to Iran, Cuba, Vietnam, Ukraine, and other markets.
CS Indiana researched the product approval, registration and documentation authentication process for Guatemala, next they reached out to both the FDA and the State of Indiana for guidance concerning legal sales to the country.
Finally, Palko felt confident enough to pull the trigger and ship the product. Deb Palko told CS Indiana that business is going so well that they have expanded into 15 international markets in 2015. Debbie Palko said, "I feel like you have become a Palko advocate and you really care about our success."
The Patient Education Institute (PEI) of Coralville, Iowa, provides healthcare institutions and technology partners with comprehensive health education products and services that engage patients and their caregivers in healthcare decisions, treatments, and lifestyle changes. When PEI was ready to expand into more markets it contacted the U.S. Commercial Service (CS) in Des Moines, Iowa for export assistance.
CS Des Moines encouraged the institute to participate in a U.S. Department of Commerce Healthcare Trade Mission to Middle East. During the mission, a PEI representative connected with several prospective partners through pre-screened one-on-one meetings arranged by U.S. embassies in the region. In addition, the CS provided PEI with guidance about distributor selection, export compliance, trade finance, and introductions to U.S. Export-Import Bank representatives. As a result of this assistance, PEI made sales of medical software technologies to Qatar, Jordan, Oman, and Saudi Arabia for use in eHealth platforms. Since then, PEI has continued to expand its exports and sales staff, achieving a sustainable working model as a software service provider and exporter.
QED Medical came to the U.S. Commercial Service in an effort to expand sales of their surgical lighting equipment into Mexico. When QED Medical met with U.S. Commercial Service and a representative from local partner organization BEAM, company vice-president Mr. Andy Cooper was looking at complex markets far from home. As our discussion unfolded, Mr. Cooper revealed that there was also a need to find a distributer closer to home in Mexico. Conversation turned to this market, and it was decided that a little effort here would go a long way. With a good-natured combination of skepticism and curiosity for using U.S. government services, Mr. Cooper agreed that a “test drive” in Mexico would be a good place to start.
USCS offices in Lexington, Kentucky, and Guadalajara collaborated with Mr. Cooper to assess the market potential, provide a briefing on current demand, and to develop a list of qualified contacts. After delivering a list of qualified, screened distributers, Mr. Cooper was diligent in following up with each company. Ultimately Mr. Cooper made a trip to Mexico to negotiate with the best candidate. This was possible in part by STEP Grant funds.
Mr. Cooper reports that QED Medical appointed a distributor for Mexico as a direct result of connections made by the U.S. Commercial Service and his subsequent trip to Mexico. Instrumentos Medicos Internacionales, S.A de C.V. has purchased QED Medical’s equipment for demonstration purposes and is attending a series of Medical Trade Shows to market QED’s surgical lighting products. Mr. Cooper told the Commercial Service, "Our overall export sales have helped in job creation over the years. Current export sales - and those we anticipate from Mexico - do help with job retention and, with more growth, could certainly create need for new hires."
Cellpoint Scientific sells high-quality surgical instruments and laboratory equipment. Among the devices they manufacture are Reflex wound clips, which serve as a fast and effective way to suture wounds. While succeeding domestically, Cellpoint was looking to expand its reach internationally, searching for companies that serve the research community.
U.S. Commercial Service staff in Israel and Baltimore, facilitated export promotion for CellPoint Scientific with Bar-Naor Ltd., based in Israel. Bar-Naor is a prominent Israeli distributor, and had a need for surgical instruments such as those made by Cellpoint.
Bar-Naor recently submitted its first order to CellPoint for Reflex wound clips. Levente Szego, with CellPoint Scientific, expressed appreciation for the connection and confirmed that Bar-Naor submitted their first order to CellPoint for Reflex wound clips.
Tekscan is the leading manufacturer of tactile pressure and force measurement systems and sensors. Their paper-thin sensors measure contact force and pressure between virtually any two mating surfaces. Applications include pressure distribution to collect and analyze pressure distribution over time, force load sensors, position sensing, for industrial, medical care, and dental bite analysis. Founded in 1987, Tekscan is a privately held company that is innovative in matrix-based pressure sensing systems and single load cell configurations.
Tekscan's force measurement and pressure mapping solutions provide information to optimize product designs and improve clinical research outcomes. Recognizing that the product would be successful worldwide, Tekscan contacted the U.S. Commercial Service (CS) Boston office three years ago to delve into global markets. Since then, they have been working with CS staff to expand into foreign markets.
The Boston CS office, along with the CS Sydney office put together an International Partner Search for Tekscan in Australia, which resulted in the initiation of three successful conversations with Tekscan.
Through the provided IPS, Tekscan was able to make contacts and begin communications with three Australian. Though Tekscan is still in communication with two of these companies, they went ahead and signed a partnership with the third.
Since partnering with a local Australian company, Tekscan has already started making sales in Australia. The Sydney IPS was a quick and efficient service that successfully resulted in a sale for Tekscan in less than a month's time. Due to the success of the Australian IPS, Tekscan has continued to work with the U.S. Commerical Services and is now looking into other foreign markets with the help of the Boston CS.
Clear Image Devices was founded in 2005 to design and develop advanced medical imaging equipment and technology for radiology/X-ray machines. Their objective is to find resellers and distributors of their advanced medical equipment and grow in international markets through the counseling and support of the U.S. Commercial Service. Through CS East Michigan and CS Healthcare team recruitment and counseling, Clear Image Devices signed up for the Discover Global Markets (DGM) Healthcare Opportunities event after learning of the buying delegations and Commercial Service healthcare specialists that would be attending to meet one-on-one with U.S. healthcare companies.
Prior to the event, CS East Michigan had a conference call with Clear Image Devices to provide pre-event counseling on how to best prepare for the DGM event and maximize their meeting times. During DGM, Clear Image Devices met with CS healthcare specialists from Canada, India, New Zealand, Kenya and Saudi Arabia in addition to the buying delegations that they brought with them. This access to reputable buying delegations that was organized during the Discover Global Markets event put Clear Image Devices in position to find high quality partners in key international markets. Kristine Squiers, Clear Image Devices sales manager, who attended DGM, had this to say about her experience at the event, "Discover Global Markets was a great opportunity to connect with people who were interested in our business. Some of the attendees traveled 20+ hours to attend and meet with U.S. companies like ours. Their commitment to the process helps ensure that your time isn’t wasted. Our company has had success making new partners through Discover Global Markets, and learned a lot from the speakers."
During the event, Clear Image Devices found interest in foreign distributors that they met with from India, who were recruited by CS Mumbai. By January 2017, Clear Image Devices signed a commercial agreement for product representation and distribution with a highly reputable Indian company helping create a new gateway into a growing market for high-tech medical equipment. After meeting with multiple distributors from India that attended the DGM Healthcare event, Clear Image Devices continued dialogue with two companies and ultimately settled on one to become their distributor. The ultimate reason in forming the new partnership with the reputable distributor in India over the other was that they demonstrated a strong network of sales channels and end-user relationships, not only in India, but also in Saudi Arabia, another high target market on Clear Image Devices priority list of international markets.
Clear Image Devices has already received an order for six of their detector protectors to Saudi Arabia, where they have leveraged their Indian partners Saudi Arabian distribution channels to facilitate the sale. Both companies also collaborated closely during Arab Health 2017, where Clear Image Devices leveraged their new partner’s presence at the show by providing the marketing material and product demo’s necessary to help them market their advanced products to potential buyers from multiple markets across Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region. By deciding to participate in the Commercial Services’ DGM Healthcare Opportunities event in Seattle, Clear Image Devices found a reputable partner that has expanded their international market access and sales. This has allowed Clear Image Devices to expand their international business without even having to leave the United States thanks to U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service support.
Working with the CS East Michigan team and attending the DGM Healthcare Opportunities event has resulted in Clear Image Devices expansion into two key international markets and provided them the opportunity to expand their sales, growing their bottom line. This growth into new markets has allowed Clear Image Devices to retain high-skilled jobs in their company that allow them to continue to design new equipment that meets the changing needs of the modern imaging room. The renewed focus on international business has also allowed Clear Image Devices to leverage CS services and support for partner search services in additional markets like France and Spain.
NuStep was founded about 20 years ago by Dick Sams, a biomedical engineer and creator of one of the first heart-lung machines. He sold a business developed around that device and decided to focus with his next company on the prevention of heart disease. One aspect of prevention is exercise. Sams had an idea: to help change people’s lives through exercise and movement. NuStep makes machines for people who have health conditions that make exercise challenging.
The company sells products in 25 countries and the international business is now about 15 percent of total revenue. NuStep has only been exporting for 4 years.
The biggest challenge was where to find international customers. So Sams hired an international sales manager to execute a go-to market strategy. He recruited Elena Stegemann, a native of Ukraine who speaks several languages and is comfortable getting on a plane and flying to unfamiliar places. She summed up the situation simply: “How is this little company in Ann Arbor, Michigan, going to reach out to the rest of the world? And we had to recognize, that being a small company, we didn’t have offices around the world. We didn’t have a global team of salespeople who were going to knock on doors and do this on our behalf.”
Early on Stegemann made the decision that the company would build a team of what she called “sophisticated visionary-type of distributor companies who really got the idea and understood the challenge that they were going to have in creating awareness for our product in their market but yet saw the huge opportunity for them.” Another challenge is the product can be considered either medical or exercise equipment. If the former, as it is in Europe, there is a different process for qualifying it for sale in those countries; but one only needs to do it once for the 28 member states. Brazil has a different process, and the steps and rules can be daunting without some expert guidance. Again, Stegemann relied on the U.S. embassy team, who provided what she needed to know and do.
For help, she turned to the U.S. Commercial Service. The services she used including checking out potential distributors. “They would say, ‘Yeah, these guys, you know, whatever weirdness you’re getting from them, that’s actually how people interact in that part of the world. They’re OK.’ Or actually, like the people in Brazil, I was able to get some information that the U.S. Commercial Service got from the embassy that really ended up helping me make the decision to not work with people who would have gotten me into trouble. So access to those people on the ground there is like having your own consultant network for free or very low cost. So how great is that?” She also took the advice to participate in a big German trade show that focuses on medical equipment. She went to MEDICA in 2009 because she wanted sales in European countries. She said: “This was the place where I met a lot of people. We were treated like royalty by the U.S. government staff who worked at the USA Pavilion. We had our own interpreter. He made appointments for us.
They brought us coffee. I felt like a CEO, which is the name of the program. We ended up having conversations with distributors from different countries. And as a result of those meetings, we ended up having agreements that are still in place in Germany, Australia, and Italy. So this was the first year that we decided to go international. And if we hadn’t gone to MEDICA and hadn’t used the U.S. Commercial Service, I think that would have delayed us by several years.”
She believes that being a global company gives NuStep a competitive advantage over other companies who don’t have an international presence. She said: “When you’re present and mindful, you see things going on there that are precursors to trends that will eventually come to the U.S. So we sometimes have the opportunity to see the future. It’s like a crystal ball, and you have to be observant.” A second lesson was that as a woman she can move in mostly male business circles with confidence and mutual respect. “I was a little bit nervous, I remember, going to Japan for the first time because I had done some homework. I had read up on their culture, how women are still kind of kept out of the corporate world. But when I walked in and I was there to do business and I was excited and happy to be there, I had prepared, I had done my homework, I had shown them respect by taking their culture very seriously—the respect was reciprocated. “So whatever was going on inside of their heads, whatever discomfort they may have felt at being with a woman—and in fact, the first time I went, I traveled with my boss, a male, who’s a VP in our company and they kept on talking to him and asking him questions. And he would then ask me for the answer. And I could see the confusion in their faces the first day or so. They just didn’t know how to deal with that. But eventually they got over it. So being a businesswoman and dipping your toe in the waters and stepping out is a transformational opportunity not only for myself, but also for other people that I interact with.”
ThermaSolutions, the global leader in Hyperthermic Medical Technology, produces the ThermoChem HT family of systems and customized disposables to deliver Intraperitoneal Hyperthermia. After experiencing domestic success with their products, ThermaSolutions was looking to find new distribution partners in South American markets.
Through the U.S. Commercial Service (CS), in 2014 ThermaSolutions traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina for a Gold Key Matching Service. Through this service ThermaSolutions met with several potential partners in Argentina. In 2016, ThermaSolutions traveled to Brazil for a Gold Key Service to meet with potential distributors within the surgical oncology sector and in January of 2015 ThermaSolutions engaged CS Chile with the goal of identifying local oncology surgeons and distribution partners. During this project CS Chile produced a contact list for ThermaSolutions to use in their entrance to the market. These meetings, organized by the Commercial Service, provided ThermaSolutions with the connections they needed in South America to expand their distribution network.
As a result of the introductions provided by the Commercial Service ThermaSolutions was able to sign distribution agreements in Argentina, Brazil and Chile. A ThermaSolutions representative expressed their satisfaction with the service, saying “I was set up with a strong list of distributor candidates, and from that list we have a distributor partner we’ve been extremely satisfied with.”
Wexford Labs is a developer of safe cleaning solutions, including the first totally broad-spectrum germicidal detergent, which is neither orally toxic nor a primary skin irritant. As a small woman-owned business, Wexford Labs started anew in the world of exporting by going direct instead of through agents, which had been their normal course of action prior to connecting with the U.S. Commercial Service.
The U.S. Commercial Service in St. Louis helped Wexford Labs understand the necessary requirements and procedures to successfully export themselves, diligently assisting Wexford in a number of markets that had previously been handled through various agents. These new markets included Kuwait, Egypt, Japan, South Korea, and Thailand while including on-going conversations with the UK.
Not only did CS assist in finding new distributors in a number of these countries but each new market required ITS Warren Anderson to rigorously dig into the exporting procedures including but not limited to; potential license procedures, documentation requirements, contractual assistance, overall logistics and freight costs, and collection of payments.
Through the help of the St. Louis USEAC Wexford Labs has successfully entered five new markets (Kuwait, Egypt, Japan, Thailand, and S. Korea) that previously had been untouched or under-prioritized by their former agents. These three new markets and overall international trade experience have allowed Wexford Labs to add two full-time sales staff to the company in order to handle the ever increasing global demand for their products.
Mortan Inc., a small company based in Missoula, MT, manufactures and distributes the Morgan Lens which is used by first responders to treat chemical and thermal burns to the eyes, prevent severe eye damage and preserve eyesight. The product provides an irrigating solution to cool and soothe the eye and dilute the contaminant. It may also remove non-embedded foreign materials in the eye.
Mortan was interested in expanding its sales, and contacted the U.S. Commercial Service (CS) in Helena, Montana for assistance in finding a distributor to sell the Morgan Lens in France.
CS Montana coordinated with the CS office in Paris, France to arrange a Gold Key business matchmaking service for Mortan. As part of the matchmaking service, CS Paris identified qualified potential distributors and arranged meetings between them and Mortan. Mortan President Steve Bixby flew to Paris to meet with CS Paris and each of the four French distributors. The healthcare market specialist from CS Paris joined Bixby in the meetings with distributors, assisted with translation when needed and provided Bixby with valuable insights on local business practices.
Mortan attempted to work out a distributorship agreement with one company, but it never came to fruition. A couple of years later, Mortan contacted another firm it had met through the CS in Paris and the two parties are now working together to sell Mortan’s Morgan Lens in France. The distributor has ordered approximately $2,000 worth of product and is continuing with product promotions. Mortan is expecting more sales in the future.
Bixby learned some valuable lessons about exporting from this experience. “I think the two take-away messages are that these things can take time, and that a Gold Key [business matchmaking service] offers multiple options,” he said.
LI-COR Biosciences creates instruments for the environmental sciences: plant science, soil science, agronomy, horticulture, ecology, and climate change studies. They wanted to appoint an exclusive distributor in Indonesia, where they had been in the market for many years through various resellers. It was time to appoint an exclusive distributor in an effort to further develop the market and support existing customers. As a longtime client of the US Commercial Service, they turned to our organization for help on this project.
In late 2014 U.S. Commercial Service (CS) offices in Omaha and Jakarta began work with the company to assess their needs in the market. Over the course of several weeks, CS staff engaged with the client to identify the best solution for the firm. After a series of communications and counseling sessions to determine their goals for the market, to identify the company’s preferences for a distributor, and to educate the company on doing business in Indonesia, CS planned a Gold Key visit for the company. CS Staff researched current resellers and new contacts, working closely with LI-COR to customize the list of appointments.
As a result of the Gold Key, LI-COR signed a new exclusive distributor for Indonesia, PT Unitama Analitika Perkasa. They had not done business with PT Unitama prior to the Gold Key search. LI-COR is now able to better develop the strategically important Indonesia market. They are now working on a large project with an industrial company in Indonesia, which they closed after signing the contract with PT Unitama.
Brent Classen, Director of the International Group at LI-COR Biosciences, had this to say about the U.S. Commercial Service’s work: “Likely we would not have met our current distributor but for the match-making Gold Key Service. PT Unitama was by far a better choice than some of the Indonesian companies we had done business with in the past. Another great experience with the USCS! ”
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Coral LLC, located in Carson City, NV, is the largest manufacturer/supplier of coral mineral supplements in the United States. Over the years, the U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service Reno office has worked closely with the company, providing export counseling, matchmaking, and market research to expand their overseas sales. Moreover, Coral is a graduate of the Reno Exportech program.
As a result of the market intelligence and the IPS, on February 17, 2017, Matt Cuhadar, Director of Business Development for Coral LLC confirmed that they are making sales in excess of $5000/annually to Sanoplast in Austria, a distributor of medical devices and food supplements to pharmacies. Moreover, through the introduction with Sanoplast, Coral signed a distributor agreement with a buyer in Poland as well.
New Hampshire (NH):
Dusseldorf, Germany-based MEDICA is the largest medical trade show in the world -- this is both a great opportunity and a potential challenge for small medical companies like Intrinsyk Medical Devices, LLC, a company of five employees located in Salem, NH. Over the years, their objective at MEDICA has been to meet new customers, establish their new technology at the forefront of their industry, and to ensure their time at the show is used efficiently and productively given their small staff.
Intrinsyk has attended MEDICA for several years, taking on these challenges strategically and effectively. By leveraging all of the resources available to them, including U.S. Department of Commerce, State of New Hampshire, Eastern Trade Council and Small Business Administration-related support, Intrinsyk has steadily grown their presence, outreach and success at MEDICA.
Intrinsyk first joined the Best of New England booth at MEDICA 2013 and benefitted from U.S. Commercial Service (CS) New Hamphire's introduction to the Showtime program. Intrinsyk attended the MEDICA trade show in 2014 independently, and then re-joined the Best of New England booth for MEDICA 2015. As part of their participation in the MEDICA 2015 show, Intrinsyk was also able to use the New Hampshire Export Expansion Fund, a program developed by the U.S. Commercial Service New Hampshire to help offset the cost of CS programs and supported events. The Best of New England booth at MEDICA 2015 also included one-on-one matchmaking for the exhibitors which further allowed Intrinsyk to promote their products and new technologies.
Over their several years of MEDICA attendance, Intrinsyk has used numerous CS programs and services, as well as partner programs through the State of NH Office of International Commerce, the Eastern Trade Council and STEP.
Intrinsyk's success at MEDICA has grown over the years -- with a small staff, but a new and exciting technology, Intrinsyk has strategically built on each year's developments at MEDICA to further their international sales goals, as well as to enhance their participation in the next MEDICA.
New Jersey (NJ):
JACE Systems is a recognized leader in the design and manufacture of continuous passive motion equipment (CPM) and is a FDA licensed medical device manufacturer. They have been a dedicated exporter of their U.S. manufactured products and consistently seeks to grow their global footprint into existing and new global markets. To that end, JACE Systems annually participates in relevant industry trade shows; local export educational conferences; U.S. Commercial Service (CS) trade missions and is a user of CS fee-based services. Recent objectives have been to identify local representation in key markets to support continued growth.
JACE Systems has participated in the world’s leading medical trade fair for the medical industry, Medica, in Dusseldorf, Germany in 2014, 2015 and 2016, taking advantage of CS CEO Program and Showtime business counseling meetings and IFP, with the support of Global Healthcare team members from CS Clearwater, CS Chicago, CS San Jose and CS Dusseldorf. As a result, meeting with CS industry colleagues worldwide has given JACE market information which added to export growth and direct sales. Working with TS Barlow and CS Shenyang to vet an interested Chinese partner, TS Barlow along with the State of NJ, met with the potential Chinese partner as part of an official meet & great and vetting process. In 2015, JACE Systems participated in Taiwan’s USA Trade Days, which CS hosted and provided market assistance. They also worked with CS Bangkok to provide industry information on product entry to comply with Thai laws. CS regularly promotes relevant trade missions/shows and education events to JACE to assist with continuous market growth. To that end, the State of NJ has an active STEP program to which CS loops in the State contacts to assist with JACE successfully gaining STEP funds to utilize for CS services over the past three years. JACE has worked with Temple University’s School of Business Capstone class the last two years to gain customized market research, to then apply to new market expansion.
Through active participation in in-country trade shows, JACE Systems has met many candidates to potentially represent them in multiple markets, including China, Taiwan and the UAE. Use of State of NJ STEP program has allowed JACE Systems to actively travel and utilize CS’s fee-based services along with ongoing business counseling provided by CS. As a result of above stated activities, JACE Systems has reported a 30% increase in international sales in 2016. As a direct result of CS and stakeholder assistance provided in 2016, JACE Systems has retained five jobs and created one new job to their workforce. Overall export sales in 2016 saw an increase of 30%.
New York (NY):
Pfizer Inc. is an American global pharmaceutical leader headquartered in New York City. Its smoking cessation product – Champix – is one of the most effective drugs that contain no nicotine helping patient quit cigarette smoking. Internationally this U.S. product had no competition in the same category.
In Taiwan, due to regulations set by Health Promotion Administration (HPA), Champix faced barriers on physician access and limitations on product education. As the result, local certified doctors not only had limited access to the Champix through Taiwan’s universal healthcare system, but also lack of knowledge and motivation to utile the product. An email report from Pfizer to CS Taipei indicated that “Pfizer tried dialogue with HPA”… “However HPA refused a conversation with the industry”.
Working closely with Pfizer, the CS team planned and executed a Single Company Promotion (SCP) dialogue for the client. Prior to and during the SCP dialogue, the CS team engaged commercial diplomacy on behalf of Pfizer with Taiwan authorities, lawmaker, academia, and the industry associations targeting the following objectives:
1. Increase tobacco sales surcharge.
2. Reduce physician’s access barriers to the National Smoking Cessation Program, so that “more certified doctors would involve in the smoking cessation practice”.
3. Persuade the authorities to allocate more resources on public awareness campaign that concerns cigarette quitting.
All three objectives mentioned above have been achieved through the dialogue.
A Pfizer Taiwan’s executive mentioned in her post-event communications that:
“Thanks to Commercial Sections’ close follow-ups and seamless preparation, 100% targeted audience attended the event”. “Those targeted invitees are all top influential stakeholders to Champix business”. “The new Director General of HPA announced during his inauguration that smoking cessation is one of his top priorities. It demonstrated the success outcome of the forum by precisely delivering key messages.
According to Pfizer Inc., the CS Taipei’s assistance made the following impacts to its Champix product:
1. Implementing tobacco sales surcharge has estimated to increase Champix sales by US$2.5 million p.a. in Taiwan.
2. Removed Champix’s physicians access barrier that valued at US$785,000 for Pfizer
3. Resulted by the dialogue, Taiwan authorities funded US$967,000 on public awareness campaign targeting tobacco consumption, which will directly leads to increasing sales for Champix.
North Carolina (NC):
SteriMed, LLC is a Charlotte, NC manufacturer and developer of onsite chemical-based medical waste processors for hospitals and clinics. The Charlotte, NC U.S. Commercial Service (CS) office has been working with them since early 2002. They regularly utilize the U.S. Commercial Service to gain export guidance and to find partners and distributors in new markets to increase international sales.
SteriMed, LLC is an ongoing active client of CS, which regularly counsels them on market opportunities and CS programs and events. Over the past several years, CS made them aware of the Commercial Service support available at Arab Health and encouraged them to participate in the pre-show webinars, Showtime appointments, and ensured they were aware of all of the commercial specialists and other U.S. partner officials at the show. In particular, she encouraged them to work with Larry Tabash of the Austin USEAC to assist them with both Showtime participation and with introductions to partners and distributors from the region.
SteriMed LLC utilized the Showtime program at Arab Health to identify distributors, interface with them, check on their progress, and provide training. The company has hired a network of distributors because of the assistance provided by the U.S. Commercial Service at Arab Health.
North Dakota (ND):
Fargo-based Spectrum Aeromed manufactures air ambulance interiors that can be installed in fixed wing or rotor aircraft, allowing these aircraft to be quickly converted into life-saving medevac units. When natural disasters strike, such as earthquakes, typhoons, monsoons and hurricanes, medical evacuations are often necessary. Air ambulance operators have increasingly discovered that Spectrum’s equipment provides them with a greater opportunity to serve their people quickly. Spectrum has sold to dozens of countries around the world (international sales have been up to 71% of Spectrum’s total sales in recent years), and the U.S. Commercial Service has played an important role in Spectrum’s international expansion.
The U.S. Commercial Service has provided in-depth assistance to Spectrum for 32 unique market inquiries since 2008. This U.S. Commercial Service assistance has directly supported sales to 11 countries. Seven additional staff positions have been created at Spectrum since 2011, due in large part to increased international sales. “Our mission is to help save lives,” said Spectrum Aeromed Chief Operating Officer Chad Kost. “It is a global mission. That is why we continue to work with heads of state, government officials, VIPs, and foreign military around the world. Other nations are seeing that air ambulances are no longer a luxury, but rather a necessity. The U.S. Commercial Service has provided trade leads in such countries as Morocco, Turkey, the UAE, and Albania to name a few. They have also completed market research in Scandinavia and most recently China. Other services that have been helpful include assistance with collections. Because of their support and guidance, we anticipate growth in sales around the world to continue.”
Powerstep was founded in 1991 by a podiatrist who was also a foot surgeon and runner. Powerstep’s mission is to provide the most effective products available for preventing and relieving common foot problems. The majority of their insoles are designed and manufactured in Ohio, and their manufacturing facilities are registered to strict quality standards and committed to supporting US-made products. In 2010, Remington Products (an Employee-Owned Company) acquired one of its larger customers, Stable Step in Cincinnati, which supplies Powerstep, a leading brand of prefabricated orthotics. Powerstep’s lineup of styles includes different levels of cushioning in various sizes and lengths to accommodate many different types of shoes and alleviate a variety of foot issues.
In September 2016, representatives of Stable Step/Remington Products approached Commercial Service Cleveland to explore expanding their sales around the world including in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and South America at the recommendation of a local partner. Commercial Service Cleveland provided market intelligence, including background checks and legitimacy checks in multiple countries, matchmaking services including initial market checks, as well as export counseling and advice.
As a direct result of the efforts of Commercial Service around the world, Stable Step reports that they have received orders of $30,000 from a customer in Saudi Arabia, and “opening/test orders” from customers in the Philippines, the Netherlands, and Japan, as well as pending orders from Peru and Australia as well. In addition, CS educated Stable Step on the challenges of the Brazilian market causing them to rethink their approach and state: “even the Brazil thing could be a positive, as it identified a very large potential customer with a base in Europe, Asia, and South America.”
Genteel Inc. is a new client of the U.S. Commercial Service (CS) Portland office that has developed and produces a patented, pain-free precision lancing device for diabetes patients to use in drawing blood for daily diabetes blood-sugar level testing. Dr. Chris Jacobs, CEO and Chief Research Engineer for Genteel Inc., has registered his company in Midland, Texas, which serves as the company’s order fulfillment and shipping center, but the company has its management, production, sales and research facilities in West Linn, OR, which functions as the effective HQ for the company. Dr. Jacobs contacted CS Portland in July 2015 to set-up an introductory meeting at his company’s place of business in West Linn, OR to learn what it would take for the company to achieve its next stage of growth - exports sales.
CS Portland advised Dr. Jacobs and his company on various key issues for setting up export operations, providing a range of export basics information. Dr. Jacobs participated in an all-day export business development training “Export Strategies, Tools and Techniques” seminar that CS Portland organized and undertook in early October 2015. Responding to the company’s concern in mitigating the financial risks of international sales, CS Portland also introduced Genteel Inc. to the EXIM Bank and export credit insurance providers, with the company taking out a multi-buyer export credit insurance policy. Since his first meeting with the company, CS Portland has worked closely with Genteel Inc. throughout the export process to help them with information, guidance and resources for export sales developed to importers/distributors and direct to consumers in various international markets.
Genteel’s efforts in the past year to develop export sales has seen the company achieve over $56,000 in export sales to importers/distributors in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and South Korea and export sales to individual consumers in 39 countries, which export sales exceeding $11,000 to Spain, $5000 to the UK, $4000 to Canada, $2000 to Australia and $2000 to Poland. In recognition of assistance provided to the company, International Sales Manager Wayne Vaincourt stated on March 8th, 2016 – “For small exporters such as Genteel, the assistance of such organizations as the U.S. Commercial Service is crucial. Genteel has been greatly assisted, in its international expansion, by CS Portland. Over numerous sessions in his office, as well as his visit to, and review of Genteel’s facilities in West Linn, CS Portland has provided a fount of information that has been very beneficial to us.”
ITSI Biosciences, located in rural Johnstown, Pennsylvania, has been a strong supporter of the U.S. Commercial Service (CS) for many years, having participated in several Trade Winds programs and counseling services. In addition, the firm's President and Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Richard Somiari is a member of the Western Pennsylvania District Export Council.
Following the commissioning of the Nigeria Defense Identification Center in Abuja, Nigeria in August 2014 where Dr. Somiari received special recognition for his role in the construction and implementation of the center during the commissioning ceremony that was attended by senior Nigerian military officers, the Nigerian Ministry of Health and U.S. Embassy officials, CS Pittsburgh was keen to assist ITSI-Biosciences expand its reach throughout the continent. Trade Winds Africa 2015 provided a natural opportunity for ITSI-Biosciences to explore new markets for ITSI-Bioscience's DNA testing expertise. Throughout 2014 and 2015, CS Pittsburgh provided market research and facilitated conversations between ITSI-Biosciences and U.S. Commercial Service offices in Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, and Ghana. Each of these offices provided thorough market assessments for ITSI-Biosciences. ITSI-Biosciences participated in three mission stops, Ghana, South Africa, and Nigeria as part of Trade Winds 2015.
During the networking reception facilitated by CS Lagos as part of the Nigeria Trade Winds mission stop, Dr. Somiari renewed an acquaintance he had made two years earlier when a delegation from the Nigerian Chamber of Commerce visited Pittsburgh. CS Pittsburgh facilitated a briefing with leading business leaders in the community for the Nigerian delegation. Dr. Somiari presented to the group on the topic of U.S. business culture. The contact informed Dr. Somiari that the Lagos State Attorney General's office was interested in establishing a DNA center similar to the one he had developed in Abuja.
After several months of negotiations, ITSI-Biosciences was awarded a sole source contract for the establishment of a DNA Forensic Center in Lagos, Nigeria to assist with criminal investigations, paternity testing, and the identification of human remains as a result of natural disasters. ITSI-Biosciences will operate the facility for the first two years. Future projects are being discussed.
Following the highly successful Single Company Promotion executed by CS Accra for ITSI-Biosciences in Ghana, the company is currently working with CS Pittsburgh and CS Lagos to develop an equally successful event in 2017 to highlight the opening of the center in Nigeria.
Rhode Island (RI):
Biomedical Structurers (BMS) is a manufacturer of advanced biomedical textiles for medical devices based in Rhode Island. The U.S. Commercial Service (CS) Tokyo office first contacted BMS at MEDICA in 2007 to facilitate a potential business relationship with Surgical Supine, a Japanese medical device importer.
In 2012, BMS visited Japan as a member of the State of Rhode Island mission to Japan. At that time, CS Tokyo conducted a Gold Key Service (GKS), a business matchmaking service, to arrange meetings with 10 Japanese companies, including Surgical Spine. Throughout BMS’s experience, staff from CS Tokyo and CS Providence provided detailed counseling about the Japanese market and the CS export promotion services.
In October 2015, Mr. Blair reported the positive news that BMS received from Japan, an initial development purchase order from Surgical Spine. As this was an early prototype build, it may lead to more development efforts toward a product launch. In fact, Mr. Blair reported in January 2016 that Surgical Spine has requested another request for quote for more materials. Also, he reported that NIPRO, another company he met during his last two trips to Japan, will be sending a purchase order for some feasibility work that was discussed during the meeting in Japan. Since 2007, Mr. Blair has been patiently and persistently explained BMS’ capabilities to his contacts, and also listened to Japanese clients’ needs. CS’s continuous assistance with his efforts led to this success in the market where one certainly needs patience and persistence.
South Carolina (SC):
Bridge to Life, based in Columbia, South Carolina, has been working with the U.S. Department of Commerce's U.S. Commercial Service for several years. Recently, Bridge to Life was a recipient of the prestigious President's E Award, conferred by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Bridge to Life develops a variety of products used by the organ transplant industry to keep human organs alive during transport, which in turn saves lives.
Bridge to Life currently exports to over 37 countries, and credits the U.S. Commercial Service with helping them explore several international markets and solve complicated foreign market entry, regulatory and customs issues. Most recently, Bridge to Life worked with the U.S. Commercial Service in China.
Bridge to Life was founded in 2009 with five employees. The company credits their export sales, in helping triple their number of U.S. staff.
Watch the video detailing Bridge to Life’s success here: http://trade.gov/success/bridge-to-life.asp
Wright Medical (WMT) is a manufacturer of small replacement joints such as ankle, fingers, toes, elbow and biologics. The company has for many years been in the process of expanding and refining its very well developed export distributor network that extends around the globe. A few years ago the company began a process to improve its compliance program. An integral part of this process was the periodic review of all of its distributors including extensive background checks.
The Memphis U.S. Commercial Service (CS) office has worked with Wright Medical and its predecessor since 1998. In that time period the Commercial Service has assisted the company on hundreds of occasions. In recent years the CS has aided the company in semiannual reviews of many of its existing distributors and representatives. This is part of the overall compliance program generally and specifically for Sarbanes Oxley and FCPA. One of its primary means for conducting background checks on its foreign business partners has been the Commercial Service’s International Company Profile (ICP), which the company has used more than 100 times.
In addition to the ICP investigations the CS has assisted the company with various financial issues. In particular the CS has, on numerous occasions, helped the company verify typical terms of payments by public and private hospitals and other medical providers for implantable devices in various countries such as Brazil, Vietnam and Chile.
Wright Medical reports that its international direct sales have grown to approximately $25M in 2015. The company reports that they have seen significant improvement in the quality of their international distribution network. They credit their work with the CS as contributing to these improvements. A better network of distributors and representatives has led to increased sales.
Sheila Davis, the Supervisor of International Accounts Receivable for WMT, had this to say about the Commercial Service: “The Commercial Service is a trusted partner that Wright Medical has relied on numerous times to validate payment term information from the Medical services field to their vendors within a Country. This allowed WMT to extend payment terms to our existing distributors as well as new distributors building a new partnership and ensuring we are within our compliance guidelines. CS Memphis always gives me valuable information when I reach out to them for advice on numerous occasions from currency devaluation, hedging to freight forwarders. I would be totally lost without the service WMT receives from the CS team.”
CellRight Technologies of Universal City, TX is a biotech company that specializes in regenerative medicine and is dedicated to the development of innovative osteoinductive and wound care scaffolds that enhance healing opportunities of defects created by trauma and disease. CellRight's human osteobiologics may be used in spine, trauma, general orthopedic, foot & ankle, dental, and sports medicine surgical procedures. CellRight Technologies is registered with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), accredited by the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB), licensed in the states of NY, MD, FL, CA, and registered with the Canadian Ministry of Health (CTO) to distribute our human osteobiologic implants.
In 2015, CellRight Technologies requested support from U.S. Commercial Service (CS) San Antonio as they were looking to increase export sales into Saudi Arabia. CS San Antonio provided advanced trade counseling on market entry strategies and coordinated on multiple occasions with the overseas post and the Deputy Director for the Office of the Middle East to obtain accurate duties and tariffs, in addition to the information on essential certifications to establish appropriate sales agreements. CS San Antonio introduced the client to CS Saudi Arabia, which advised that CellRight Technologies needed to request the Saudi Embassy’s consular department to authorize the agreement. They further recommended that CellRight seek a legal opinion in Saudi Arabia and they provided a list of local firms as a resource. Furthermore, CS San Antonio introduced CellRight Technologies to the Deputy Director, Office of the Middle East, who provided them with the State Department’s Document Authentication requirements for the representative agreement. Additionally, CS San Antonio and CellRight Technologies worked closely with the local FedEx International Sales Representative to assist with product clearance in Saudi Arabia.
Because of the assistance provided by CS San Antonio, CellRight Technologies has increased their export footprint into Saudi Arabia and in Colombia, where they have also received support and have been able to use similar resources and market strategies. Export sales have increased by 50% and have supported jobs within the company. In addition to the above markets, CellRight Technologies is also exporting to Canada, Chile, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom and is actively pursuing new opportunities worldwide.
Summit Medical Products, Inc. was interested in expanding their market share in Turkey and the surrounding area, so the company opted to participate in the U.S. Commercial Service-orchestrated Trade Mission to Turkey in May 2014. Additionally, Summit Medical Products used U.S. Commercial Service (CS) assistance in Mexico City to register their devices in country through the Mexican Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risk, COFEPRIS. Summit Medical is a rapidly growing company, and uses CS services and assistance quite regularly to achieve their international objectives.
The Utah Commercial Service works with Summit Medical Products regularly in assisting them with inquires on various regions throughout the world, sharing information on seminars surrounding issues relevant to their industry and assisting with gold key, international partner search and business facilitation services worldwide. Summit Medical offers a unique device called the ambit pump that regulates medicine going into the patient after surgery and in many cases is considered safer and more economic than elastomeric pumps. In this particular case, the Utah CS promoted the Medical Trade Mission to Turkey to relevant industry clients in Utah. Summit Medical expressed early interest in attending the mission to find a distribution in partner Turkey. CS Utah worked to solidify their participation by encouraging them to participate in a webinar on Turkey's medical industry, hosted by the Commercial Service in Turkey; and following the webinar, organized an informational conference call for Summit with CS Turkey. This conference call led to Summit Medical's participation in the trade mission.
After the Commercial Service hosted the Medical Device Trade Mission in May 2014, CS followed up with all of the Turkish Companies that Summit Medical met. Summit Medical specifically asked CS Turkey to follow up with a company they were unable to meet while on the trade mission, Ahmet Sanli. Summit Medical ended up signing an agreement with Ahmet Sanli and the President of Summit Medical had traveled to Turkey in January to train their sales force. After his experience with Ahmet Sanli the President of Summit Medical was incredibly impressed and happy with the professionalism of the company and the markets they held. Currently, Summit Medical is helping Ahmet Sanli work on getting bids for ambulances, chemotherapy clinics, and private hospitals. As a result of this trade mission and Gold Key Service support, Summit Medical is anxious to build their market share in Turkey.
In Mexico, Summit Medical also found positive results from the efforts of the U.S. Commercial Service. As a result of CS Mexico’s assistance with COFEPRIS, Summit Medical received sanitary approval from COFEPRIS to use the pumps for their patients. This will undoubtedly lead to additional sales. The prospective client of Summit Medical in Mexico praised CS Mexico City stating the following: "Without the assistance of the U.S. Commercial Service in México, we would not have been able to culminate the registration process."
With Summit Medical assisting Ahmet Sanli work on getting bids for ambulances, chemotherapy clinics, and private hospitals, the opportunities for success in Turkey continue to grow.
Given the approval of the Sanitary Certificate from COFEPRIS for Summit Medical Products, the President of Summit flew down to Mexico City to meet with prospective clients and insurance agencies. Summit expects sales in the short term.
Last year, the U.S. Commercial Service Northern Virginia office met Patrick Cheng, CEO of eKare, Inc., when he was signing a distribution agreement to sell his firm’s medical wound imaging devices in Asia and other regions throughout the world. This is a big success for the Washington, D.C., area start-up that was established in 2014. However, without previous international shipping experience, Cheng needed help figuring out how best to ship his products.
eKare’s products use machine intelligence and sensor technologies to deliver wound imaging directly to a mobile device at the point of care. While the product looks like a tablet, it’s a medical device powered by eKare’s proprietary software.
High-tech medical devices such as these present special challenges in the international trade environment. For instance, do you ship the device as a computer tablet or a medical device? What product registrations does eKare need to comply with foreign government regulations? What U.S. export regulations does eKare need to observe?
With the help of the U.S. Commercial Service and introductions to private sector volunteers serving on the Virginia/D.C. District Export Council, eKare completed its first international shipments.
“Exporting can be very complicated, and we couldn’t have done it without guidance from Pompeya and Kathy, and support from the U.S. Department of Commerce,” Cheng said.
West Virginia (WV):
Billow Global Inc. makes post-surgery pillows for breast reconstruction and surgery. Their objective in working with the U.S. Commercial Service was to identify a distributor for their Billow range of therapeutic pillows and SIO (Silicone + Oxygen) products.
Through trade mission one-on-one distributor meetings and a networking reception modeled after the U.S. Commercial Service Gold Key Service, Billow Global Inc. was able to meet with six potential distributors. From there, they made an agreement to make an initial sale of three Billow pillows to DK Connections, based in Singapore.
Ocenco, Inc., located in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, manufactures respiratory protection equipment that keeps workers in the military, maritime and mining sectors safe from harmful industrial toxins. The company has been actively exporting to over 9 countries for years, and the U.S. Commercial Service (CS) has been there to help the company define and successfully execute their international expansion strategy. So when Steven Berning, President of Ocenco, was looking to develop a sales channel in South Africa, he knew to contact CS for help.
In South Africa, the CS team located and vetted new channel partners for Ocenco and arranged in-person meetings with these potential partners. This customized matchmaking service helped Ocenco target companies that were capable of representing Ocenco in market.
With the contacts and meetings provided by CS, Ocenco selected a new channel partner located in South Africa that not only covered that market, but also markets in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Dem. Republic of Congo, and Angola.
In just a short period of time, sales to the African region through the new channel partner increased by $200,000, which allowed Ocenco to begin adding six manufacturing jobs in Pleasant Prairie.
Steven Berning, President of Ocenco, Inc. had this to say about the Commercial Service: “The U.S. Commercial Service is a key component of our international growth strategy. Commercial Service has allowed Ocenco to establish business in China, Taiwan, Zambia and South Africa, that would have been significantly more time consuming and expensive without the assistance from the U.S. Commercial Service.”
Lucigen Corporation, located in Middleton, Wis., is a life science company that provides DNA cloning, sequencing, and protein expression to scientific researchers.
Despite success in the U.S., Lucigen was intent on developing an international business strategy and finding channel partners in Northern Europe in order to expand its global competitiveness. Inspired after it completed the ExporTech program, Lucigen wanted to expand its presence in Norway and Sweden. In 2014, Lucigen hired Glaselyn Miller, Director of Global Sales and Distribution, to lead these efforts and build its proactive approach to expanding around the world.
Lucigen executive reached out to the U.S. Commercial Service to identify pre-screened distributors in Norway and Sweden. Ms. Miller says this about the experience:
“By using Commercial Service matchmaking services, our company was able to leverage their market knowledge and expertise, saving us valuable time qualifying potential partners. They helped us liaise with distribution companies in our industry—experienced companies with a good reputation in the market. Through their assistance, we were able to appoint a new distributor resulting in an immediate impact on our sales.”
Lucigen’s sales rose 30 percent in Norway and Sweden only three months into using their new distributor. The rise in exports supports 25 jobs at its Middleton, Wisconsin, headquarters near Madison.
Lucigen’s expansion in Northern Europe is a result of the collaboration between U.S. firms and state and federal partners, collaborations that can transform U.S. companies from “occasional” exporters to organizations that prioritize international growth in their business strategy.
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