NH businesses look to extend sales worldwide
NH's taking on the world, one sale at a time
MANCHESTER - Andrew White operates his company out of his Thornton garage, but the tentacles of his business extend around the globe.
Last year, he sold his precision wind and environmental sensors to Canada, China, India, South Korea, Spain, Malta, Tunisia, Morocco and Israel. Enough to account for 17 percent of the company's total sales, more than double the previous year.
"International sales moved us into the black," White said last week.
Last year, New Hampshire exported nearly $4.28 billion worth of goods to 176 countries - ranging from Canada ($1.35 billion) to Gibraltar ($2,750).Exports for the first quarter of 2014 are up 15 percent over the same period a year ago, according to Tina Kasim, program manager for the International Trade Resource Center in Concord.
"In general, a lot of jobs that are created in the state now by companies involved in international business are a result of an increase demand overseas," Kasim said. "There's a definite connection between a company growing in New Hampshire and their presence internationally and the creation of jobs in the state."More than 2,200 Granite States companies shipped goods outside the country.
The top five commodities exported from the Granite State were industrial machinery such as computers; electric machinery for sound and television equipment and parts; optic, photo, medical or surgical instruments; plastics; and iron and steel.
Taiwan, which ranked 21st on New Hampshire's 2013 export list, craves "precision machinery . especially for metal working and for the electronics industry," said Peter T.L. Shih, director of the commercial division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Boston.
About two-thirds of the $34.59 million in goods that Granite State companies shipped to Taiwan last year dealt with machinery and parts, according to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.
In contrast, New Hampshire in 2013 imported $125.6 million in goods, with laptops and cellphones topping the list.
Shih noted Apple's iPhone4 was assembled by a Taiwanese company in mainland China called Foxconn and included some Taiwanese parts. A Taiwan company, HTC Corp., also produces smartphones.
"The consumers don't care where they are from and where they are made," Shih said. "All they want is a good phone."
New Hampshire companies could be selling more products to Taiwan if the United States and Taiwan finalized a free trade agreement to cut regulations and tariffs, he said. A New England trade office in Taiwan also would help the region better market its goods and tourism attractions, he said. (Twelve states have offices there.)
As Taiwan recovers from the economic slowdown, trade between Taiwan and New Hampshire should increase this year, Shih said.
He said Taiwanese airlines are ordering more planes, some of which, he expects, will contain General Electric engines. That could mean more work for GE workers in Hooksett, according to Shih.
Said Kasim: "It's really critical for the small businesses to diversify their client base because when things slow down here domestically, you need to find another source to bring in that revenue and keep the lights on and pay your employees and create new jobs."
White, who began trading with Taiwan this year, said he hopes to grow his exports by joining this month's state trade mission to Turkey, which includes seven Granite State businesses and Gov. Maggie Hassan.
White, whose company employs three workers, said he hopes to locate distributors, resellers or direct customers to get into that market, which also serves as an access point to Russia and eastern Europe.
(Turkey was New Hampshire's 12th best export destination in 2013 with nearly $79.3 million in goods.)
"For small businesses to not look to export, you're missing such a huge number," he said. "It's critical to success in today's business world to be able to export."