Monday, April 25, 2005

Vallejo Exporting conference focuses on available help

Article Last Updated: Thursday, Apr 21, 2005 - 10:03:04 pm PDT

Exporting conference focuses on available help

By Matthew Bunk

VALLEJO - Business leaders from the North Bay and beyond gathered here Thursday to learn how exporting can be made easy with the help of the U.S. government.That wasn't the official theme of the North Bay Export Conference, but it may have well been.

More than 100 executives representing companies from wine makers to fuel pump manufacturers showed up at Vallejo's World Classics Auto Museum to hear messages from government agencies which work to enhance U.S. exporting relations.Some of the entrepreneurs were veteran exporters. Others were just beginning to explore the idea of shipping their goods overseas.But nearly all of them learned something from presentations by the U.S. Department of Commerce, event sponsor FedEx, state economic experts and local business advocates."It was definitely worth my time," said John Anderson of Richmond-based Draper and Esquin Wine and Spirits. Anderson was exploring the possibilities of exporting wines to Europe and beyond.

"Not only was it helpful because of the content of the presentations, but it was also good to hear comments from those who've been through the pitfalls of exporting, because not everything is rosy," he said.

That was the flip side of Thursday's presentation - it can be difficult to export without tapping the expertise of federal agencies which specialize in that field.

"The opportunity for exporting is phenomenal, there's a huge potential to make money on foreign business," Vallejo Mayor Tony Intintoli Jr. said. "But there are things to learn before you begin exporting.

"Speakers from various federal commerce agencies - presenters included representatives of the U.S. Commercial Service, the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Export/Import Bank of the U.S. and worldwide shipping firm FedEx - claimed to have the answers.

They offered advice on everything from ways to make sure foreign clients make timely payments to how to set up a virtual wine- or food-tasting event at U.S. embassies abroad.The results of consulting with those agencies are immeasurable, said a business owner who runs a software company in Novato."We literally started in a garage, and when we looked at the international market it was like a big black box," said Herb Gottlieb of Attest Computer Auditing. "But with their help we became a global company with 24 international partners."

One Solano County businessman, whose company has exported since the day it began, hoped to learn how to make international sales the largest segment of his company.

Michael Eck is president and chief executive of AcroMetrix, a Benicia-based biomedical firm that specializes in quality-control products and services. His goal is to increase the company's percentage of international sales from 30 percent to 60 percent in the next five years."You've got to have that partnership with the (U.S.) Department of Commerce," he said. "Working with the right people gets your product to the market faster."

Reach Matthew Bunk at 425-4646 Ext. 267 or

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