By Traci L. Moyer
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
ANDERSON — Business is booming internationally and local companies are cashing in.
The idea of a local small business expanding into an international market is not a new one, according to Warner Press officials.
“We see it as a way of fulfilling our mission,” said Gwynne Watkins, director of communications for Warner Press.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 97 percent of all exporters are small businesses and 96 percent of the world’s customers reside outside the United States.
Capitalizing on this market is something Warner has not hesitated to do, Watkins said. The not-for-profit organization has been publishing and distributing Christian products, including ministry resources, church supplies, children books and greeting cards worldwide for more than 130 years.
And international business is good.
“We have seen our international business pickup,” Watkins said.
For example, the company’s Egermeier's Bible Story Book has sold more than 6 million copies around the world and has been translated into a number of languages including Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Scandinavian and Russian.
Thanks to globalization and advancements in digital technology, the boundary of today’s business world is changing, and according to the SBA exporting is crucial to the U.S. economic recovery.
Watkins said a bigger market presents its own challenges including cultural concerns and international laws which is why several new resources have been created to help small businesses expand into international markets.
One such resource is the Direct Line program that allows American companies to talk through webinars or conference call s with U.S. ambassadors located in approximately 260 embassies and consulates in more than 190 countries.
The U.S. Department of State program is free and businesses can register for a Direct Line call at http://www.state.gov/e/eb/directline.
Watkins said the first suggestion she would give other companies wanting to expand into a international market is to conduct extensive research and create business relationships with companies already located in a foreign country.
Judy Nagengast, CEO of Continental Design & Engineering, Inc., in Anderson agrees with Watkins.
“Try to find a partner who knows the laws of the land,” she said. “You are not dealing with U.S. laws so if there is problem with a customer it is very hard to resolve it. It is good to have a partner — the ones we use work out really well.”
Continental Design & Engineering provides management and technical assistance including engineering services, contract technical staffing, executive staffing and lean manufacturing services. The company was established in 1985 and Nagengast said they employ about 250 employees around the world.
Nagengast said her company’s expansion into foreign countries is attributed to following customers that have chosen to relocate portions of their business outside of the U.S. She said her company serves a variety of businesses including automotive, transportation and the medical industry.
“You see a lot of productions going to Asia,” Nagengast said. “We prefer to stay closer because of transport times and they are asleep when we are awake and that can be challenging.”
International business has proven successful for the company, however, which announced on its website the opening of four new offices in Asia to better assist clients doing business in those countries.
Nagengast’s advice for local companies contemplating business in the international market?
“If you are just starting, I would say following your customers is be the best way to do it,” she said.
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