Business owners are constantly bombarded by pitches for trade groups and hot new Web sites that promise to improve their international sales. But if you need a resource that has withstood the test of time, you should take a gander at the World Trade Centers Association (WTCA).
Jen O'Conner, director of Brooklyn Goes Global (BGG), the international division of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce in New York City, says the WTCA has been the most valuable network BGG has worked with. "The WTCA has given us a phenomenal number of overseas buyers interested in what Brooklyn businesses have to sell," she says.
O'Conner says the vast majority of the 1,200 sales proposals BGG sent out last year on behalf of Brooklyn manufacturers (90 to 95 percent of whom are entrepreneurs) came from leads generated by the WTCA. The nonprofit, nonpolitical association, which focuses on global trade, provides services in 337 cities in 101 countries worldwide. Among its dazzling array of tools: facilities that can be used to host meetings, and a gamut of business services such as videoconferencing, an active trade-lead operation, market research and group trade missions. Herbert Ouida, WTCA's executive vice president, describes the organization as one-stop shopping for the nearly 500,000 companies affiliated with it worldwide.
Classic Clothing Inc. founder and owner Shawn Korenman found himself on the fast track when a potential buyer in Thailand found an ad for his company on the WTCA Web site. "He came over here and spent $40,000 on his first order," says Korenman, 26, whose New York City company sells about $300,000 worth of recycled jeans, bags and shorts a year to U.S. and international clients.
For more information, visit http://www.wtca.org
Christopher D. Lancette is an Atlanta journalist who covers international topics for Hispanic Business and other publications.
Name and age: Robert McCracken, 45
Company name and description: McCracken Leasing leases and sells golf-cart fleets to courses in his native Australia.
Based: Manhattan Beach, California
1998 sales: $85,000
Teeing off: "I was living near a golf course when I thought of the idea," McCracken says, "I kept seeing all these white buggies. I mentioned that to my brother, Len, in Australia, and he said everybody there walks [around the courses]. So we started checking into getting some carts there."
Avoiding fairway hazards: "The new vehicle tax in Australia is something like 90 percent--so if you wanted a new $5,000 cart, it would end up costing you more than $9,000. The tax on used vehicles [26 percent] is stiff, too, but it's bearable. Shipping them one at a time would cost a lot of money on top of that, so we don't send carts to a club until we have a signed agreement for a number of them."
Chip shots: Once the carts arrive in Australia, they're very low maintenance. "All you have to do is plug them in." One mobile mechanic can service McCracken's entire operation. The carts also run well for several years, allowing McCracken to generate three to four times his purchase price through leasing revenues.
Clubhouse advice: "You've got to be careful when you take on an overseas partner. My saving grace was having my brother in Australia. I can't give $30,000 worth of golf carts to a drunken lout. California's Export Small Business Development Center also helped me out a lot--getting me through paperwork and shipping stuff."
How Does It Translate?
Interlingua Linguistic Services Inc. has launched its Global Promotion Package, which includes translation and production of marketing materials, Web sites and correspondence templates in any major Asian or European language. For more information, call (310) 792-3636 or visit http://www.japanese-translation.com
Classic Clothing Inc., (718) 832-3289, fax: (718) 832-3263
McCracken Leasing, (310) 545-8419, fax: (310) 545-6119