Small Oregon businesses go global

| Print |  Email
Articles - June 2011
Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Oregon Exports, 2001-2011

The value of Oregon exports have doubled over the past decade. The state's largest category of exports is electronic and computer products, mostly from Intel, and the largest trade partner is China.
0611_GoingGlobal_Graph
Partnering with a larger, more experienced firm makes sense because breaking into foreign markets is no simple task for a small Oregon company. But it can be done — even in China. Benchmade already sells its upscale knives into Russia, and the company is doing very well in China, says Rob Morrison, director of marketing. China baffles many local exporters due to various trade barriers and deep cultural differences. But Morrison says he’s found that the “Made in the USA” label carries surprising cachet in China as incomes there rise: “Our best selling products in China are our most expensive products.”

Morrison says Benchmade spends a lot of time researching and building relationships with local partners in China and Russia, interviewing candidates in person and talking to retailers and dealers to make sure “the credibility checks out.”

Benchmade has learned firsthand that selling internationally brings risk, especially if your brand name is well known. “We’ve seen counterfeit product in Hong Kong and China and also coming from foreign countries into the U.S.,” says Morrison.

“Fortunately we do a good business with U.S. Customs and they know us. If they see a container full of knives made in a foreign country labeled Benchmade, they know it’s a counterfeit.”

For now, the opportunities overseas are outweighing the risks. Benchmade’s long relationship with U.S. Special Forces has brought military contracts with France, Australia and Greece, and Morrison says international sales are growing by double digits each year. The 180-employee company makes all of its knives in Oregon City, where it recently knocked down a wall to expand its manufacturing space by 20,000 square feet.

 



 

More Articles

Nine lives

Linda Baker
Friday, May 22, 2015
0f4f7bfBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Roy Kaufmann always lands on his feet.


Read more...

Energy Stream

May 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Oregon already ranks as the nation’s second largest generator of hydroelectric power. (Washington is No. 1). Now an elegant new installation in Portland is putting an unconventional, sharing economy twist on this age-old water-energy pairing. The new system, launched this winter, uses the flow of water inside city water pipes to spin four turbines that produce electricity for Portland General Electric customers. 


Read more...

Power Players

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY ROBERT MULLIN

A new energy-sharing agreement sparks concerns about independence and collaboration in the region's utility industry.


Read more...

Shades of Gray

May 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

Are we too quick to diagnose corruption?


Read more...

It's a Man's Man's Man's World

May 2015
Friday, April 24, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Male tech workers speak out on the industry's gender troubles.


Read more...

5 questions for inDinero CEO Jessica Mah

The Latest
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
jessicathumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

inDinero, a business that manages back-office accounting for startups and smaller companies, recently announced it would relocate its headquarters from San Francisco to Portland. We talked to CEO Jessica Mah about what drew her to Portland and how she plans to disrupt the traditional CPA model.


Read more...

Beyond Bodegas

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Five years in the making, the Portland Mercado — the city’s first Latino public market — will celebrate its grand opening April 11. A $3.5 million public-private partnership spearheaded by Hacienda CDC, the market will house 15 to 20 businesses in the food, retail and service sectors. It has some big-name funders, including the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and JPMorgan Chase. The project goals are equally ambitious: to improve cross-cultural understanding, alleviate poverty and spur community economic development. 


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS