Local companies complete program to help prepare them to compete globally

Staff Report
Published July 5, 2014

Striped Pig Distillery, a startup distillery producing moonshine whiskey, rum and vodka, is looking to go international.

It is one of four companies that recently participated in an intensive export training program designed to help local companies enter new foreign markets, as well as expand current exports.

“For a new company looking to export, this should be mandatory,” Striped Pig President Casey Lilley said in a statement. “Getting professional feedback from this team has been crucial.”

Employees from GEL Laboratories, Streit USA Armoring, Striped Pig and UEC Electronics recently completed the daylong sessions over three months.

The training is a component of the Metropolitan Charleston Export Initiative, which is provided by the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce and World Trade Center Charleston.

The Charleston region was one of eight areas selected to participate in the initiative, launched by the Brookings Institution, in an effort to help firms go international.

TalkTools, a speech therapy toolmaker, recently participated in similar training, the International Trade Administration’s U.S. Commercial Service’s export assistance program, which connects small and midsize businesses’ exports with international partners and buyers.

As part of the Brookings program, export officials shared lessons learned, resources, market assessments and challenges of entering foreign markets. At the end of the session, each company presented an export plan.

UEC Electronics, an electronics component manufacturer for aerospace, defense and commercial customers, wants to market its equipment to private industry in foreign markets.

Streit USA Armoring, which creates protective vehicles for law enforcement and government officials, sought guidance on export compliance, as well as which foreign markets to target for part of its production.

GEL Laboratories participated in the training to learn how to break into new markets. It currently offers its analytical laboratory services to governments, engineering firms and nuclear utilities in France, the United Kingdom, Japan and Canada.

“I gained a lot from learning about the resources available for exporting and from hearing others’ presentations,” Mac Hodgson, vice president for The GEL Group Inc., said in a statement. “This program has helped our company focus on our international efforts and the connections we made here were very helpful.”

Additionally, TIGHitco, a designer of engineered components for the aerospace industry, joined Streit USA Armoring and UEC Electronics in training for The International Traffic in Arms Regulations.

Trainers include representatives from the state S.C. Commerce Department, S.C. District Export Council, S.C. Small Business Development Center, U.S. Department of Commerce/Commercial Service and World Trade Center Charleston.

A total of 12 companies will complete the training program in 2014.

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