Though the energy sector has slowed in recent months, business for many Sooner State firms continues to move along at a brisk pace. A diversified group of Oklahoma businesses was recently recognized at the 32nd annual Oklahoma World Trade Conference for their excellence in exporting. We had the opportunity to speak with Addie Ventris, Marketing Director for Tactical Electronics, a 2015 Oklahoma District Export Council Export Champion award winner based out of Broken Arrow, Okla.

What does Tactical Electronics do?

“Tactical Electronics provides advanced technology and training solutions for military and law enforcement agencies. Our extensive product line includes covert wireless camera systems and EOD equipment used by special operations teams around the world. Our training division provides Counter IED training courses and IED Training Aids for EOD technicians and tactical operators. All of our services are designed to prepare technicians for what they might encounter behind a closed door, in a suspect package, or unsecured area.

“Tactical Electronics designs, engineers and manufacturers all of our products in house at our headquarters in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.”

How many employees do you have in Oklahoma? How many employees do you have worldwide?RIP KIT_0914

“We have 44 in Oklahoma and 22 worldwide in Virginia Beach, Va., Chattanooga, Tenn. and in United Kingdom.”

Can you give me an idea of how much Tactical Electronics relies on exporting its products outside the U.S.?

“Since 2011, Tactical Electronics has seen a significant increase in our international sales. We continue to see a demand for our products and services worldwide and will continue to fulfill those requests through export.”

What are some of the challenges Tactical Electronics faces in exporting from Oklahoma? Are there some benefits from exporting from Oklahoma as well?

“While working to expand our international markets, Tactical Electronics has dealt with common growing pains to ensure our manufacturing lead times protect us from payment risks. To mitigate any financial risks we have instated a few internal policies and procedures with regard to payment, the examples are as follows.

“When working with new international customers, for whom Tactical Electronics has not established an ongoing relationship, deposits are required before work begins. For those customers unwilling or able to fund the deposit up front, Export Letters of Credit are required. Additionally, in instances where large unit volume is ordered, Tactical Electronics has started offering multiple ship dates to alleviate some of the financial stress. Finally, for those customers unwilling or able to pay in U.S. currency, Tactical Electronics has started hedging the exchange rate with a premium to compensate for rate volatility.

“Tactical Electronics will continue to develop improved processes to advance and expand our export strategy and international markets.”

Looking back to when Tactical Electronics first began producing items for export, is there any advice that the company would provide to fellow firms in Oklahoma who are considering forging international ties and exporting?

“Ensure that internal and external policies and procedures (as described above) for all export activities are in place at your organization before your first export activity.”

Oklahoma firms continue to show why they can compete with firms closer to the coasts through a spirit of innovation and determination to grow their businesses overseas. Several Oklahoma firms were recognized for their exporting achievements during last month’s Oklahoma World Trade Conference, while Tulsa-based Sawyer Manufacturing Co. recently received an honor from the U.S. Small Business Administration, as it was named the national Exporter of the Year.

Sawyer Manufacturing Co. specializes in designing and producing pipeline infrastructure construction equipment, and according to company spokesman Drew Martins, prides itself in taking on projects of all kind to meet the needs of customers around the globe.

“We actively try to partner with other manufacturers when there’s an unmet need,” Martins told the Journal Record’s Brian Brus. “One of the things I see in other big and small companies is that if a product isn’t in their catalog, they pretty much refuse to do it. We approach it differently, because with enough time and resources, we’ll do anything.”

According to a release from the SBA, the firm was founded by Red Sawyer and AB Jensen in 1948, and has since grown to a 40-person staff exporting to more than 50 countries. In 2013 it was named as one of Tulsa’s “Fast 40” of the metro area’s fastest growing companies.

Though primarily focused on the oil and gas sector, the firm’s emphasis on diversifying its customer base allows it to succeed in a state where energy-related work has fallen off.

Vice-President Dave Hembree told the Tulsa World‘s Casey Smith that Sawyer’s readiness to take on unique projects that involve a smaller or customized line of products has the Tulsa firm branching out to customers in the restaurant, fitness, and water utility fields.

“The more diversified we can get, the better,” he said.

Representatives from Sawyer Manufacturing will visit Washington D.C. and the White House during the U.S. Small Business Administration’s National Small Business Week from May 4-8.

Sawyer’s success, as well as other Oklahoma exporting firms like it, show that despite Oklahoma’s landlocked location, good business practices and better products will continue to have an appeal to customers around the globe.

While the focus of presenters at the 32nd annual Oklahoma World Trade Conference was raising Oklahoma companies’ online profile and protecting their digital assets once there, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin was on hand to present awards to six companies for their more traditional exporting work.

The 2015 Oklahoma Governor’s Award for Excellence in Exporting went to Broken Arrow, Okla.-based Control Devices Inc. The firm is a leading manufacturer of pipeline pig tracking and communication equipment for domestic and global customers. Its 48 employees each have specialties in a diverse set of skills, from electronics, mechanical design, software and firmware programming, machining and more.

The Oklahoma District Export Council’s Export Champion Awards went to:

The U.S. Commercial Service’s Export Achievement Certificate went to:

 

As the June 30, 2015 deadline approaches for the U.S. Congress to reauthorize the charter of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, Oklahoma businesses face an uncertain future as some in Congress balk at it’s continuation.

On April 15, EXIM President Fred Hochberg was grilled by some members of the House Financial Services Committee skeptical of his leadership and the bank’s mission in providing funding for American exporters. Critics of the bank accuse its mission of being little more than taxpayer-funded corporate welfare for large multinationals. Another point of contention by Congressional critics is that the U.S. Treasury Department officials have not negotiated with foreign governments to end subsidized exporting, a mandate in a 2012 re-authorization bill by Congress.

In Oklahoma, public support for fiscally conservative policies for taxpayer funded organizations like EXIM can run in contrast to the positives international exporting can have on local, small businesses. The bank helps underwrite loans for American products sold abroad, meaning Oklahoman exporting companies can acquire a guarantee for their investments in personnel and infrastructure.

According to EXIM:

  • Oklahoma has 125 exporters whose total export value is $1 billion.
  • Of that $1 billion, $804 million is insured or financed through the bank.
  • The state’s top three export destinations are Mexico, Columbia and Australia.

In an EXIM feature on an Oklahoma Success Story, Tulsa, Okla.-based Sawyer Manufacturing Co. Vice-President Dave Hembree explains the bank’s impact on his firm’s business.

The ability to extend credit on international sales allows us to grow our business in existing international markets and export our products to new countries by giving our international distributors more flexibility to invest and market our products. Credit terms provided to our international distributors in these markets allow them to better compete, so it makes our U.S. made products more competitive in the international markets.

Sawyer Manufacturing Co. also credits these financial assurances for its expanded business in Africa, Russia, Australia and the Middle East and the creation of 10 new jobs.

At the March 24, 2015 OKGIT meeting, group member and F&M Bank’s Randy Kellogg provided his take on the importance of the Export-Import Bank to Oklahoma companies.

“Export-Import helps keep a level playing field for Oklahoma companies on international markets…it doesn’t help finance foreign governments as some critics suggest or only benefit big companies. Its financing helps smaller manufacturers who are indirect exporters when they supply firms like Boeing Company…”

It’s that time of year again as business, government and industry insiders from across the state’s numerous sectors convene for the 32nd annual Oklahoma World Trade Conference. This year’s conference will take place Thursday, April 9 at the Sheraton Midwest City Hotel at the Reed Conference Center. OK World Trade Conference 2015

Read more about it from Chairman of the Oklahoma District Export Council and OKGIT member Chuck Mills.

To: All Oklahoma Business Leaders, Company Owners and Investors

Subject: 2015 Oklahoma World Trade Conference

If you are committed to increasing your company’s competitive position in the ever-expanding global economy, then let me invite you to attend the 32nd annual Oklahoma World Trade Conference.

This is Oklahoma’s premier annual event to highlight World Trade Month as proclaimed by the president of the United States.

Mark your calendar to be in Midwest City at the Sheraton Midwest City Hotel at the Reed Conference Center on Thursday, April 9, 2015, to take full advantage of the thought-provoking, yet practical opportunities and programs that have been organized for this event.

You will hear and learn from expert speakers and local domestic and international trade experts discuss these topics:

Morning Session:

  • “Focusing Your Company’s Web Presence for Increasing Sales, Social Media and Training” – “E-Commerce is the Business Frontier That Should Be Explored and Not Ignored” – The World is Ready for Your Business

Afternoon Session:

  • “Protecting Your Website and Company Data” – “E-Commerce is the Business Frontier That Should Be Explored and Not Ignored” – Protection, prevention and knowing best practices are important factors to minimize risks and address exposure to any business that wants to compete in this global economy.
The event is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Oklahoma Department of Commerce and Oklahoma District Export Council

The event is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Oklahoma Department of Commerce and Oklahoma District Export Council

In addition, at the luncheon the Gov. Mary Fallin will present the 2015 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Exporting to one or more Oklahoma companies for their successful and noteworthy efforts in increasing export sales, plus U.S. Department of Commerce Export Achievement Certificates and the Oklahoma DEC Export Champion Award will be presented to several Oklahoma companies for their efforts at expanding their international sales!

Global trade is an integral part of doing business in today’s world. At the 2015 Oklahoma World Trade Conference you will learn about issues that have a significant impact on your business and global trade!

I am certain that you, your colleagues and your company will benefit by joining with other like-minded business leaders from across the state on April 9 at the Sheraton Midwest City Hotel at the Reed Conference Center. You can’t afford to miss this networking opportunity!

Chuck Signature

 

Re-sharing a great opportunity to enhance experience in the Asia and Pacific region in the coming weeks from our partners at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Commercial Service. Just a few days left to register for this year’s 2015 Asia/Pacific Business Outlook Conference in Los Angeles on April 13-14.

Click here to learn more about the conference’s schedule or to register.

Asia/Pacific Business Outlook is the premier networking and learning experience designed to provide you with the contacts and knowledge to succeed in Asia/Pacific markets. Access up to 18 dynamic markets in two days.

New Sessions in 2015:

  • Don St. Pierre Jr., founder of ASC Fine Wines, the premier importer of wine in China
  • Brian Ward, President of Capital Markets, Americas for Colliers International
  • Global Supply Chain Strategies and Trends
  • One-on-One Meetings with the Senior Commercial Officer from U.S. Embassy in Pakistan
  • Southeast Asia frontier markets: Cambodia, Lao, and Myanmar

APBO’s timeless features since 1988:

  • 60 sessions, 18 Asia/Pacific markets in 2 days
  • Customized trade counseling via One-on-One meetings with Senior Commercial Officers
  • Understanding current economic trends and social issues of major Asia/Pacific markets
  • Market entry strategy and competition
  • Global supply chain and logistics
  • Partnerships and negotiation best practices
  • E-Commerce and Asian middle class consumerism

 

Great news coming from the Journal Record, as MidAmerica Industrial Park launches plans for a $50 million expansion of facilities in Pryor, Okla.

According to a Journal Record report by Kirby Lee Davis, the park’s remaining 4,000 acres of unused land could be put into development by 2020. The industrial park will also host the future MidAmerica Career Center, a workforce development project.

Established in 1960, MidAmerica Industrial Park lies just 40 miles from Tulsa, Okla. and within quick transit distance of Interstate 35, Interstate 40 and Interstate 44, allowing next day delivery to 23 percent of the United States population. Rail, waterway and air transit corridors are also nearby, and MidAmerica’s shovel ready sites are perfect for large and small scale businesses looking to put people to work.

For international companies, both importers and exporters, MidAmerica offers a unique incentive as Foreign-Trade Zone 53 offers reductions, deferments or eliminations of duties.

MidAmerica is also home to Red Devil Inc. whose Vice President George Lee, is a leading member of the Oklahoma Governor’s International Team. Red Devil manufactures a broad and diversified line of hand tools and chemical products for professional and home maintenance and improvement – more than 400 different products in all. In addition to producing caulks, sealants and tools under its own brand name, the company also manufactures private label products for some of the nation’s largest hardware and home center chains.

To learn more about MidAmerica’s expansion plans, please read the entire Journal Record article here.