International expansion can be a tall order for a small-to-medium sized enterprise. Understanding the basics of world trade; assessing your company’s readiness for exporting; conducting market research to identify market opportunities; and producing a viable and effective action plan for implementation are just a few of the crucial steps that are necessary to be successful.
Nick Nicholas, Technical Director and owner of Genesis Water Technologies, Inc., recognized that his company would require additional resources and expertise to expand his business into new global markets. For that reason, he turned to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) and its International Trade Services.
Genesis Water Technologies is an award-winning leader in specialized drinking water & wastewater treatment and reuse solutions, targeting various industries and water utilities across the world. Nearly 15 years ago, GWT began to tackle the issues of water scarcity and inadequate water treatment with innovative and sustainable water & wastewater treatment solutions and services tailored to serving communities and industrial clients.
Members of the FSBDC’s International Trade Services Team, including program manager Jill McLaughlin and international trade specialist Nerine Elattar, delivered Nicholas with one-on-one consulting services and other assistance including the development of a customized Export Marketing Plan for GWT. Provided in partnership with Enterprise Florida and the U.S. Commercial Service, the Export Marketing Plan focused on overseas growth strategies and supplied a roadmap for the company’s international expansion, including accessing trade mission services from the U.S. Export Assistance Center and trade promotion support from the State of Florida.
Beginning in 2013, GWT began implementing this comprehensive and action-oriented Export Marketing Plan. The company soon achieved its desired results, so much so that Nicholas asked for and received updated customized market research in 2019. “Since starting with the FSBDC we have been able to see some definite growth,” says Nick Nicholas. “The creation of a solid Export Marketing Plan enabled us to expand from the few countries that we had worked with before the FSBDC to today when we are able to sell our products, services and systems in over 43 different countries.” In fact, on the strength of this success, Nick Nicholas was recognized as the Small Business Administration’s national 2020 Exporter of the Year.
In addition to the FSBDC’s International Trade Services and the EMP, Nicholas and GWT have and continue to take advantage of other FSBDC programs and affiliates. Beginning in 2012, the Florida Procurement Technical Assistance Center at UCF provided the company with various federal agency contacts and bid opportunities, resulting in contracts with the Navy and Air Force. In 2019, GWT began benefitting from the FSBDC’s Advisory Board Council program, which provides a custom-fit advisory board comprised of volunteer independent business professionals to help accelerate GWT’s business growth.
“The FSBDC is a resource that is capable of serving businesses by supporting both export marketing as well as providing other services,“ Nicholas concluded. “The staff is excellent and the resources you can obtain for a reasonable or no cost are the best in our book.”