At Your Service: The US Commercial Service

American ground support equipment suppliers looking for international buyers may not know about a US government agency that’s ready to help them. The US Commercial Service Aerospace Team consists of international trade specialists from across the United States and our embassies and consulates around the world who are dedicated to the export of US goods in this industry.

“Our mission is to help US suppliers increase their export sales,” says Diane Mooney, US Commercial Service Aerospace Team Leader. “That means we work with manufacturers to learn about their business needs and develop their international marketing strategies.”

“Our business is increasing sales opportunities,” Mooney says, “and we do it in a number of different ways.” Whether a US company wants to identify overseas partners and buyers, attend an international trade show, receive international market intelligence or conduct a background check on a potential overseas partner, the US Commercial Service can help.

No matter how a company chooses to go about developing international business, having the US government behind the company means fewer worries, more confidence in the international marketplace and increased sales opportunities.

This has been the experience of Global Ground Support, LLC of Olathe, Kan. Global Ground Support has been a client of the US Commercial Service since 2000 when they requested assistance with export licensing to China. Since then the company has used Commercial Service trade specialists to develop market entry strategies to export to China, Russia, South Korea, Kuwait and Turkey. Through the assistance of the US Commercial Services located in Kansas City, Mo., Global Ground Support has been able to grow export sales throughout the world, but especially in China with the award of a $4.2 million dollar contract administered by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) for 18 mobile truck mounted deicers in December 2005. “Because of Global’s extensive manufacturing capability, we were able to meet the required delivery schedule for the 18 units, and as a result Global was awarded a supplemental contract for five additional deicers valued at $1.2 million dollars,” says the company CEO, Richard L. Smith.

The Aerospace Team’s premier offering, the Aerospace Executive Service, is offered at select international trade shows. To facilitate the Aerospace Executive Service, the Commercial Service interviews industry representatives to find those that best meet the US supplier’s needs. When the US executive arrives overseas, all the legwork and research has been done. They receive two days of prescreened meetings at the trade show as well as access to various show amenities and invitations to networking opportunities and logistical support.

US Commercial Service Aerospace Team members maintain market intelligence on airport development opportunities worldwide.

Aerospace Team member Manuel Jimenez in Mexico City reports that, “the development of the airports in Mexico continues to be a big priority of the Mexican Federal Government. There are 67 airport terminals, which are operated by five different groups, two government-run and three private. Each airport group has a number of significant upcoming projects.” Jimenez is in the US Embassy in Mexico City and has built a relationship with the procurement officers at each airport group. He offers direct introductions to these procurement officials for US airport suppliers. US exporters currently maintain 86 percent of the $12.5 billion market for airport equipment in the country.

Several time zones away, the US Commercial Service in China has an extensive team to support the tremendous growth opportunities there. With 40 new airports to be constructed over the next four years, China will invest $150 million on the airport security infrastructure alone to take the nation from 147 airports to 187 by the year 2010. US suppliers traveling to China to identify procurement opportunities should consider using the Gold Key Service to meet one-on-one with potential business partners in country.

Johan Van Rensburg at the US Embassy in Johannesburg, South Africa, advises that luggage handling vehicles, security systems and cargo de-grouping capabilities are among the industry’s best prospects in that country. Increased air traffic to South Africa is a result of the country’s growing economy and its hosting of the 2010 World Cup Soccer matches. To open doors for US suppliers to this industry, Van Rensburg ran an extremely successful Aerospace Executive Service at the African Aerospace and Defense Show in 2004 with one participant reporting that he, “had meetings organized (by the US Commercial Service) with three key companies, all of which have come on board as dealers for our products.” Van Rensburg is already planning for the next Aerospace Executive Service program at AAD in September 2006.

It would seem that there are endless sales opportunities in the ground support equipment industry worldwide. Yet only 10 percent of US manufacturers are exporting, 90 percent of which are small- and medium-sized businesses, and 65 percent of US businesses that do export are exporting to only one international market. This means that there is tremendous potential to increase the bottom line of many US suppliers.

“Some of the biggest challenges companies face in international markets are finding qualified distributors/partners, understanding regulatory requirements and addressing financing,” according to US Commercial Service Director General Israel Hernandez. “Our domestic and international colleagues can greatly assist companies with each of these elements. Identifying qualified distributors and partners is crucial. A company that chooses the wrong business partner can spend years trying to rectify the situation and losing, in the process, valuable time in gaining market share.”

Whether your company is looking to create, sustain or grow its international sales, the US Commercial Service team is available to assist you. Keep your eyes on future editions of Ground Support Magazine for the “Export Story of the Month,” which will highlight international airport development opportunities and export success stories from across the ground support industry.

To access more sales opportunities and to meet your US Commercial Service Aerospace Team member, look for them at Aviation Industry Expo 2006, contact Team Leader Diane Mooney at Diane.Mooney@mail.doc.gov; phone: 206-553-5615 or visit www.buyusa.gov/eme/ame.html.

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