Extending their reach
Ixonia companies develop export plans

By KATHERINE MICHALETS - Freeman Staff

November 19, 2016

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, right, congratulates Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership’s ExporTech graduates Kim Schaefgen, office manager, left; Randy Bourdo, president, second from left; and Nate Wayne, sales manager, all from Industrial Vacuum Equipment Corporation, on Thursday.
Katherine Michalets/Freeman Staff

PEWAUKEE —The small town of Ixonia isn’t a place associated with international exporting, but that’s exactly what two companies aim to do aided by the lessons they learned through Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership’s ExporTech.

On Thursday, Industrial Vacuum Equipment Corporation and Bryant Products received their ExporTech diplomas at Waukesha County Technical College. They were joined by other graduating companies, including Odyne Systems in Pewaukee and Eco-Latch Systems in Pewaukee, as well as Price Engineering in Hartland and others.

Tamara Wilson, executive vice president of Bryant Products, said her company was already exporting to Canada, but wanted to look into growing its customer base. In 2013, Bryant Products, a manufacturer of pulleys, rollers and CNC components, had $5 million in revenue, which is expected to increase to $13 million in 2016. Wilson credits this growth to becoming a vendor of choice and reaching new customers.

She hopes that through additional exporting, Bryant Products can again double its revenue.

As part of their export plan, Bryant Products will focus on building a customer base in Germany, but she said they have their work cut out for them because Germany tends to be more of a “start-up country.” Bryant Products plans to take advantage of a grant it received to perform translation services and to produce literature with that focus on exporting to Germany.

As Wilson watches trends and keeps her finger on the pulse of the marketplace, she realized that “all consumers are not in the U.S.”

Randy Bourdo, president of Industrial Vacuum Equipment Corporation, said his company’s exporting was sporadic in the past.

“There wasn’t any consistency in countries that purchased,” he said.

To learn determine why those export sales were so sporadic and how to make them more consistent, Bourdo attended ExporTech. Through the program, Bourdo was able to identify Canada, Australia and the UAE as strong potential markets for Vacuum Equipment Corporation.

“We noticed with internet leads, a lot came from these countries,” he said.

The goal is to grow exports 5 percent to 10 percent in the next three years, Bourdo said.

“Without ExporTech, we would have floundered internationally,” he said.

Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch spoke to the ExporTech companies on Thursday and said it’s been a tough year for Wisconsin exports, although the aerospace industry has been a bright spot. She advised that companies should continue to pursue new clients and new business relationships in a difficult year. That way when the economy gets righted, the company will be poised to grow.

“Don’t abandon your marketing when you’re in a down economy,” Kleefisch said.

Email: kmichalets@conleynet.com