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Nashua bagpipe company moving ahead with international shipments

By KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent

December 06. 2017 12:19AM
Gibson Bagpipes received the necessary permits on Monday from the Department of Agriculture to resume selling its instruments abroad. (COURTESY)

NASHUA — After being unable to sell its product abroad for the past year, Gibson Bagpipes was finally granted the necessary permits on Monday.

“Waiting a year to get permits — for a small business losing 20 to 25 percent of our business — it was a real struggle,” said Rich Spaulding, operations manager at Gibson Bagpipes, 29 Mason St.

The local business was told in January that it would need a permit from the Department of Agriculture because its wood products, specifically blackwood and cocobolo wood, had been covered by the parties of a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES); an application was also submitted to the Department of the Interior.

“It has been a very big hassle. We have been unable to ship any of our products that contain the woods,” Spaulding said.

Over the past year, Gibson Bagpipes lost a significant amount of business without the international permits as musicians purchased products from competitors and major distributors weren’t able to receive their products, Spaulding said.

The governor and other elected officials intervened after the company’s first application and check were lost and never received, and it took about six additional months for the second application to move forward. Then, once the permits were obtained, the city of Nashua was spelled incorrectly and Gibson Bagpipes had to wait nearly another month for the error to be fixed.

Spaulding said he is not opposed to the restrictions on the wood, but said the red tape of trying to navigate the permit process was frustrating.

“Fortunately, we can now move forward. We can start re-exporting this wood, and that is a good thing,” he said on Tuesday.

Last month, Gov. Chris Sununu urged two Trump administration cabinet secretaries to help break the regulatory delay that was impacting the Nashua bagpipe company — one of the largest manufacturers of bagpipes in North America.

“We will not let government bureaucracy stand in the way of helping small businesses,” Sununu said Tuesday in a statement. “Working with the administration, I am proud to say that Gibson Bagpipes received their long-awaited permit (Monday) morning. These much needed permits will allow Gibson Bagpipes to export their first-class product to countries across the world, and serves as another example of a New Hampshire small business with a global impact.”

Since obtaining the CITES permits, the company will now be able to ship its Great Highland bagpipes and Scottish small pipes outside of the United States.

Gibson Bagpipes was founded in 1978 in Ohio, and was sold by Jerry Gibson to Mike Mansfield in 2014. Mansfield opened the new shop in Nashua three years ago, and the company now has four full-time employees and about four part-time workers.

According to Spaulding, the business is already reaching out to distributors around the world informing them that the necessary permits have been obtained.

“We appreciate the patience of our customers as we have worked through this permitting process,” Gibson Bagpipes said in a statement.

khoughton@newstote.com


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