More than three years ago, an Illinois company’s idea of exporting used farm machinery to Eastern Europe was just that, an idea. Armed with a vision, Arcola-based Equipment Direct-USA, LLC (ED-USA) contacted the International Trade Center in the College of Business for some advice and assistance.
“Our company was profitable prior to exporting,” says Curt Miller, international manager for ED-USA. “And exporting has enhanced our profitability.”
The International Trade Center offers both new and well-established businesses the opportunity to expand their profits by exporting. One of six such centers in the state, ITC focuses on export assistance and does very little work with businesses interested in importing goods. Half of ITC’s funding comes from the federal Small Business Administration, which funnels the funding for ITC through the state’s small business department, a unit of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The rest of the funding comes from the College of Business.
“I handle general international trade questions, covering east-central Illinois from Danville to Kankakee,” says Tess Morrison, ITC director. Morrison, who previously worked with international banks, concentrates on export financing and covers the entire state for export financing.
Know Your Client
With Morrison’s guidance, ED-USA began by researching their potential customers: farmers in young economies such as Ukraine, Russia, and Bulgaria. Then, explains Miller, “we learned about the soil types and characteristics, the rainfall, the temperatures, the FAO (crop maturities), and specific local conditions that affect the equipment and seeds farmers would need.”
Morrison put Miller in touch with another ITC client with contacts in Eastern Europe who could help Miller hire representatives to talk with farmers. Armed with the detailed research about soils and crops, the new ED-USA staff discuss various brands and machinery sizes with the farmers, explaining the advantages and differences. “Next we develop a complete system that is compatible with their farming operations,” says Miller. As a last step, the company explores finance resources with their clients and presents them with several payment options, including financing under EXIM Bank programs.
Part of a Statewide System of Trade Centers
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