Export professional talks trade at Rotary Club

by Wes Mayer

Andrew Sherwood, past chairman of the Georgia District Export Council, spoke at the weekly Newnan Rotary Club luncheon Friday and gave insight into what the export council does.

Sherwood, who is from Birmingham, England, is now retired with 50 years of experience in international sales of advanced technology products for industrial and research markets. For the past 25 years, he has served on the Georgia District Export Council. The council, he said, is entirely independent from the U.S. government, and its mission is to help small and medium-sized businesses sell overseas and compete with the larger businesses.

“The world is open to business,” Sherwood said. “Whatever business you are in, you will find a market for it somewhere in the world.”

Sherwood said the same goes for competition – any business will always find its competition somewhere in the world. And any business owner who may think he or she only has a small market will find that, in today’s world, their niche market may be much larger than they realize.

There are approximately 60 district export councils in the U.S., Sherwood said, and there are around 1,500 members of these councils. These members assist the smaller-sized businesses by giving exportation advice and support to owners – sometimes with one-on-one mentoring, providing sponsored training and educational programs and reaching out to communities and letting businesses learn about their services.

All members of the council work pro bono, Sherwood said. Because they do not work for the government, they raise funds on their own – usually through lobbying. The council also coordinates with the U.S. Export Assistance Center, which has representatives in Atlanta. The assistance center provides numerous services, including setting up trade missions and shows, business matchmaking and assisting with trade finance and insurance.

Sherwood said that in Great Britain, where most goods had to be imported, he grew up with the motto “export or die.” Nowadays he said this is much less the case, but exporting is still a vital part of any business.

Sherwood said he has four golden rules for succeeding in the export business: a small or medium-sized business should know its customers, it should know its competitors, it should respect other cultures, and it should trust its export representatives like family.

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