If a time period in a company’s history can be characterized by a single phrase, 2018 could be called the “year of the export” for Flexo Concepts.
On the verge of wrapping up its 3rd decade of selling overseas, doing business globally is nothing new for our doctor blade manufacturing company. But 2018 has been a year to celebrate. Flexo Concepts received two high profile export awards, won its fifth export grant, and is about to onboard its third international business development manager.
First, Flexo Concepts was named, “2018 Exporter of the Year” for Massachusetts by the U.S. Small Business Administration in April. The very next month, Flexo Concepts was recognized at the national level, receiving the President’s E Award – considered the highest recognition any U.S. entity can receive for making what Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross calls “a significant contribution to the expansion of exports.”
In November, Flexo Concepts received notification that it was awarded funding for the fifth time through the Massachusetts State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) to facilitate long-term export growth. When allocating the grant, the Massachusetts Export Center chooses companies based on their demonstrated commitment to boost exports, create jobs and impact the economy.
And now, the company is adding to its team of overseas sales representatives fully dedicated to international business development and service.
Flexo Concepts understands the importance of having salespeople in the field who understand the regional markets, speak the native languages and are intimately familiar with local cultures and business practices. Soon Arnoud de Jong will join Bernat Ferrete (based in Spain) and Steve Kao (based in Taiwan) in promoting the TruPoint line of doctor blades globally. Arnoud will be based in his home country, the Netherlands, and brings a wide range of strategic capabilities to his new role – a good sense for the European flexo industry, strong marketing background and proficient language skills in his native Dutch, English and German.
The activities of the international business development managers are fortified by support from back home – Flexo Concepts’ headquarters in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The company actively participates in foreign trade associations and regularly exhibits at key trade events around the world. To localize its selling, the company’s marketing department provides translated versions of its sales tools and promotional materials – brochures, installation guides, email campaigns, blogs, white papers, infographics, ads, training documents, etc. – and recently launched Spanish and Chinese versions of its website (with French and German to follow in 2019).
Behind the scenes, developing and executing a successful international business model is a whole-company team effort. From navigating the intricacies of international accounting, to mastering the complexities of shipping and logistics and maintaining compliance with foreign regulations, every department is involved.
But, while “internationalizing” the business has been (and will continue to be) one of our biggest challenges, it will surely also remain one of our biggest rewards. Exports have grown from 17% of revenues in 1991 to over 40% today. We maintain OEM relationships and distribution on every (habitable) continent, and our current customer base spans 50+ countries worldwide. The recognition we have received in 2018 celebrates our efforts over the past 30 years to advance the global flexo printing industry.
And we’re pretty darn proud of it.