Ellis Patents Ltd has been exporting for more than 20 years to more than 30 different countries. Richard Shaw from Ellis Patents talked to BQ about how the company started exporting, and why it has been beneficial.
The company designs and manufactures cable cleats, cable clamps and cable supports, and also provides customers with technical support. Richard Shaw said: We are often called upon in a problem solving role. We are seen by our customers as technical experts in our field and we have global reach."
The company was set up in 1962, but since the 1990s has been selling its range of cable cleats and associated products in 30 countries, covering all the major markets where its products are regularly specified.
Shaw said: "The decision to make export a strong focus of the business came around 20-years ago. Developments in technology at the time meant the world was shrinking – at least in terms of the ease of travel and the ability to do business in different markets. Today we operate in a truly global market and if we hadn’t had the foresight to establish our export operation all those years ago then we’d be nowhere today.
"Take a couple of sectors in which we do a lot of work as examples. An oil and gas project may be designed in London, built in Singapore and end up in Brazil. Meanwhile, Hinkley Point; a UK power project, is being developed with massive technical input from France and financing from China. We also supplied a recent nuclear power project in China, which was designed in France."
Shaw told BQ that there can be difficulties when a company first starts exporting, he explained, "The hardest part is identifying suitable partners in the territories you have identified as having reasonable prospects. If you pick the wrong partner, it will never work." Although he also believes that issues such as currency and language barriers are easy to work around, saying: "Language is rarely a barrier and currency always fluctuates – they are facts of life. Empathy is important and helps in becoming accustomed to different cultures, but there’s no substitute for experience."
Shaw’s advice to companies who are looking to export is to take the help on offer and don’t be afraid to take the plunge. He said: "The UK Government has always been supportive towards exporters. They have various services to help companies identify suitable markets and even to find partners in chosen territories through local embassies and consulates. We regularly use these services as well as the services of other specialist consultants.
"Just get on with it, it’s easier than you think. There’s lots of advice out there and other exporters are always keen to help. Pick an exhibition and take a stand, you’ll learn more from the other exhibitors in a week than in a year of doing it on your own!"
The Department for International Trade (DIT) are a partner for the Around the World in 80 Trades feature.
The Northern Powerhouse team of DIT offers a whole host of support for businesses across the Northern region that wish to export. Regular regional hosted webinars and events include topics such as strategy, finding the right market, finance, e-exporting and research. The sessions are very practical and provide guidance from those who have experienced exporters. For brand new exporters there are taster missions and trade missions, to a number of countries, where DIT find opportunities in a particular country and take UK companies to meet with potential buyers.
The UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT) has overall responsibility for promoting UK trade across the world and attracting foreign investment to our economy. We are a specialised government body with responsibility for negotiating international trade policy and supporting business.