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- United States, Asia-Pacific Partners Look at Ways of Fostering Trade and Economic Growth
- Exporting with a Warm Touch
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- ITA Win: Export Success-Lighting the Way to More Exports
- Short Takes
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- Featured Trade Event: Executive-Led Water and Wastewater Industry Trade Mission to Australia
ITA Win: Export Success-Lighting the Way to More Exports
An outdoor lighting installation at Coop Pontedera in Pisa, Italy, showcases Ruud Lighting’s BetaLED technology. The company was one of the winners of this year’s E Awards. (photo ©2011 Ruud Lighting, Inc. (BetaLED))
Ruud Lighting, a winner of one of the 2011 E Awards for excellence in exporting, has expanded its markets thanks to a competitive product line, savvy marketing, and help from the International Trade Administration.
by Doug Barry
The eponymous company led by Christopher Ruud was started by his dad out of a garage in Racine, Wisconsin. That was back in 1982. Today, Ruud Lighting is in 80 international markets and employs more than 700 people. Thanks to exports, hiring has increased, and the company is doing its part to advance the goals of the National Export Initiative, which calls for doubling U.S. exports by 2015.
How did they do it? For one thing, Ruud Lighting makes great products and keeps innovating. The company has energy-efficient light fixtures, smart streetlights, parking lot lights, and architectural lights. It looks for sales in all markets, including countries that have long dark winters. You can guess why—light!
In Finland, Ruud found Department of Commerce specialists at the U.S. embassy in Helsinki. Ruud knew the department well from numerous other markets worldwide where the U.S. government has provided introductions to buyers, helped navigate cultural issues, and explained local technical standards. Ruud learned from Department of Commerce cultural navigators that establishing personal relationships can be more important than price or product features.
In Helsinki, Rudd learned about a lighting procurement program for U.S. embassies. The company applied, was selected, and has since installed lighting in a number of embassies, including the one in Finland, as part of the U.S. League of Green Embassies. Better yet, in Helsinki, Ruud Lighting’s Finnish representatives brought customers to the embassy. They loved the lights and placed orders of their own. “The embassy became kind of a showcase for what our company could do,” said Ruud, “We generated sales from nearby countries.” Northern Europe’s winter nights are still long, but now not as dark.
When you’re competing in the world marketplace, one opportunity can lead to unexpected additional ones. Ruud agrees and has this advice for other U.S. companies wanting to start or grow their international sales: “Use the Department of Commerce, and use all the resources available. I think we’ve learned a lot from them, and we continue to learn a lot.”
During a recent trip to the booming Brazil market, Ruud applied this learning and headed straight for the U.S. consulate in São Paulo. “It was a great trip, and the [Department of] Commerce people were very helpful and accommodating.”
Could this be Ruud Lighting’s 81st country market? Ruud says, “It could be. Absolutely, yes.”
Doug Barry is a senior international trade specialist in the Trade Information Center.
Through its network of domestic and international offices, the International Trade Administration (ITA) works to help U.S. businesses succeed in the global marketplace. This article is one in a series of stories that highlight recent U.S. export successes that benefited from services offered by ITA.
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