After being nominated for the Large Exporter of the Year award at the HSBC Scottish Export Awards 2016, BQ caught up with Campbell Archibald of Alba Power to find out how the firm which started life as a provider of spare parts to Rolls Royce Avon and Olympus gas turbines, grew into a leading player serving the US, Middle East, Europe and Asian markets.
What does your company do?
Alba Power provides overhaul, upgrades, maintenance, repair, renovation of turbines and components as well as controls innovation and complete package supply across the world to clients operating aeroderivative gas and power turbines in the power, oil and gas and energy markets.
How long has the company been exporting?
What do you currently export, and where to?
Alba Power exports its full range of products and services across the globe with key current markets including the US, Middle East, Europe and Asia.
What motivated you to start selling overseas, and how long did it take?
Working closely with both Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Development International we quickly identified Houston, Texas as a prime opportunity for overseas expansion and it took two years to develop and embed our first strong client relationship in the US.
What is the easiest part of exporting?
Alba Power has a highly competitive global offering and so engaging with prospective customers, once identified and communicating our proposition has been relatively straightforward in terms of the enhanced benefits we bring our customers.
And the most challenging part?
Understanding the local nuances of business protocol and culture and ascertaining the best business development strategy in each region.
Have language barriers, currency changes, etiquette and culture ever caused you any difficulties? How did you overcome them?
In the Middle East and Asia there are significant cultural barriers to overcome, however Alba Power has worked hard to spend time understanding what these differences are and tailor our customer approach accordingly.
Did you get any support when you wanted to trade abroad? Who from, and was it helpful?
Alba Power has been able to develop its export strategy and success with the help of both Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Development International
What advice would you give to someone just starting to explore overseas markets?
Tenacity is key when it comes to exporting in terms of developing relationships. Scotland has an excellent global product and service provision, however it is critical to understand each specific customers’ needs and tailor a service approach accordingly.
Absolutely none – creating a successful global business is highly rewarding for those directly involved and the Scottish based team who support our high service levels every day.
Where next? What markets are you looking into and where do you see the company in 5 years time?
The business plans to continue this support through investment in personnel, equipment and capabilities for the existing sites, as well as potential presence in the Middle East and Far East regions, over the 5-year business plan period.