Member Profile: Red E. LLC

Member Profile: Red E. LLC

Posted on March 5, 2021

"Get ready for the long haul," says Matt Faul, President of Red E LLC., when sharing exporting advice. The company, created in 2012 by Faul, is an engineering firm and aftermarket agriculture parts company that delivers the whole package from design to delivery. 

The company was not started with the intent of exporting, says Faul. "I did something I knew, and I knew I didn't only want to be an engineering company. I wanted to interact with customers." This drive to be hands-on with customers and providing high-quality aftermarket kits, parts, and custom designs for agriculture equipment has served the company well. They continue to see growth in their domestic and international markets, resulting in increases in their engineering team, support staff, and facilities located in Fargo, ND.

Recognizing hardships in some overseas markets, expanding into exporting seemed like a natural fit for Red E. After more than three years of working with customers in Russia and Ukraine, the company is starting to gain traction. Two critical steps they took early on  - traveling to each country and gaining a trusted interpreter and contacts - were essential to their success. Faul stresses the importance of getting the right people in place and making the right impression.

Traveling to Russia several times with previous employers, Faul fell in love with the country and its people. An introduction by a mutual friend to Eugene –  a Russian local – was a turning point, Faul says. Eugene firmly questioned why Red E was in Russia and what the goal was. Faul's honest answer: believing that Russian farmers were underserved and he could provide quality, long-lasting solutions to their challenges, as well as making a little bit of money, proved to be enough for Eugene.  After that, Eugene has become the liaison for Red E in Russia. "Eugene told me right there that if you are bottom-line focused, Russia will be a hopeless situation, and now our seemingly hopeless situation has turned quite hopeful," says Faul.  Meeting more and more people, shaking their hands, and looking them in the eye has cemented Faul and Red E into this region. 

Along with his twin brother Jesse, Vice President of Red E, the Faul brothers grew up with a grandfather who believed in rebuilding and recycling parts. Taking this initiative, Red E sells their aftermarket parts for John Deere, Case IH, Flexi-Coil and New Holland air seeders, drills, and more.  Today, many farmers see the benefit of replacing specific parts or systems and adding on to existing equipment rather than buying a whole new machine. Taking their products one step further, the Red E team makes sure that their kits come complete with all the components to get the job done right the first time. "We don't want our farmers to have to run out to the dealer to get more parts when they are mid-install. We want our kits complete." He explains, "It might cost a little more to include a few extra bolts, nuts and washers, but our customers see the value in the well-built kits." Lisa Tellinghuisen, part of the sales and marketing team for Red E, shares that "this is where the true marriage of engineering and aftermarket parts really comes together." Red E is currently translating their website into Russian and is already seeing sales from their efforts.

Red E is active on their YouTube channel and social media showing rebuilds and providing information about their products.  Posting videos of this hands-on team lets the product speak for itself, explains Tellinghuisen, "there are no gimmicks, these products work. Matt, Jesse, and our team have done their research before we put the products out on the market."

Red E's products and processes' functionality reinforces itself as the company continues to export more. Recently, the company has taken advantage of the STEPND program, which financially assisted sales trips to Russia and Ukraine. They have also translated their website into Russian. Both projects, Faul explains, have been integral in making export activities affordable, which they may not have considered without the assistance.

Faul provided some final thoughts on exporting, emphasizing that exporting is not a quick way to make money but a long process of cultivating relationships. He cautions companies not to sit back and wait for the right opportunity, or you will never start. "It takes serious effort to make it. If you think the US market is a challenge, you have to factor in a large multiplier for international business. Be sure to count the costs.  You have to sacrifice to be successful," says Faul. He goes on to explain that the cost of exporting can be more than is more than monetary. It is a rigorous undertaking and full of challenges. Each company has to survey if exporting is right for them, and the benefits must outweigh the costs.  Faul and the Red E team have decided the benefits of exporting are well worth it for their operation and continue to look forward to many new partnerships in the future.

 

Visti Red E at: https://rede-ag.com

Exporting in the Time of COVID-19: Supply Chains

Exporting in the Time of COVID-19: Supply Chains

Posted on March 3, 2021

The year 2020 has been full of dark days, but we have seen many bright spots too.  As we move into 2021, we bring you a series on the global pandemic's impact with an exporting and international business lens. Each month we will dive deeper into topics that impact the way business has changed due to COVID-19 and how innovations and ingenuity can make our lives better for the future.

Our first topic is toilet paper. Well, not toilet paper exactly, but why this seemingly ordinary product became so scarce so quickly. And for that, we take a closer look into supply chains.

For many businesses, their goods, components, pieces, and parts come from a variety of places beyond the companies physical location. This can be as simple as the bananas at the grocery store in the middle of ND or the computer components built into tractors for increased data visibility. Many US manufacturers import components to produce the final product, which is then exported again.  Even though something is made in the US, it does not mean that every piece is sourced from the US. Companies rely on suppliers for specific parts from all across the globe.

Take a computer built into a tractor that is manufactured in the US. The computer system and all its raw materials likely came from 10 or more locations to arrive in the US; then, they are combined into the tractor. When one or more unpredictable events disrupt the creation of raw materials, demand for such materials or those materials' movement can become unreliable.  The whole process of how raw materials are made into a final consumer product is called a supply chain or value chain. When outside events impact demand, shipping reliability, or the human-power to create goods are disrupted, the chain gets a chink in it.

Disruptions in supply chains became very apparent with the global pandemic sweeping its way across the world. Many countries shut down, also changing the flow of goods along the way. Then, all of a sudden, all the toilet paper was gone! Stores were not prepared for an uptick in demand for this particular product. More and more toilet paper was flying off the shelves, and the suppliers could not get their hands on enough due to the many chinks in the supply chain experienced throughout the global pandemic.  It is reasonable to assume that the demand for toilet paper has historically remained steady, and many stores place orders for such goods months in advance. Timing and erratic purchasing caught stores off guard resulting in shortages.

Manufactures may not have felt the disruptions immediately. Still, if there was a specific component sourced from an area experiencing shutdowns, there was likely disruption to the supply of that good.  Manufacturing could not continue or adapted to make up for the gap.  Knowing where a company's goods are sourced becomes a valuable tool to understand the vulnerabilities and how companies can become more resilient to disruptions.

The McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) used Nike as an example of a company that had the agility to shift supplies to meet consumer demand quickly. The company has significant investments into understanding its supply chains. When the global pandemic started to take hold in January 2020, Nike could see that brick-and-mortar stores were shutting down. The company was able to reroute inventory to fulfillment centers allowing for direct to consumer shipping. This shift helped offset large losses that other companies felt as the inventory of goods started to pile up at brick-and-mortar stores, just as in-person consumer shopping decreased. With companies ordering goods months in advance, the pandemic and lack of consumer spending (in certain) industries highlighted companies' vulnerabilities with too much inventory and funds tied up in that inventory. The reverse problem of not enough stock to manufacture items with increased demand was also problematic.

A global pandemic is not the only thing that has been disruptive to supply chains worldwide. The MGI reports a significant disruption in supply chains can be seen about every 3.5 years. These disruptions can be fueled by trade policy, war, natural disasters, political uncertainty, and even human-made disasters, like the nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, Japan, in 2011.  Car manufacturers have worked to diversify their supply chains as the nuclear meltdown in Japan impacted a large part of their business for several years. While it may be a feeble attempt to predict the next global supply chain issue, if one will happen, is inevitable. It is more beneficial to recognize supply chain vulnerabilities and how to fix them rather than the event type or timing.

Jim Tompkins of Tompkins International (a company that focuses on international supply chain solutions) says that we need to stop thinking of supply chains as chains, which implies a linear network. As a solution, we need to look at the whole ecosystem of a product from raw materials to consumers, which will help to understand vulnerabilities and become more resilient. By understanding the overall network of resources, a company can determine the weak points and reduce and mitigate devastating disruptions.

Technology for supply chain management comes into play in a few different ways. One of which, is supply chain management software systems that use algorithms to detect and track the movement of goods. These systems alert company's to any irregularities and can potentially provide options for mitigation. Some systems can integrate with current inventory, deadlines, and suppliers to prioritize the most beneficial decisions based on factors critical to your business. These technologies can be pricey, but these systems are likely beneficial in the long run when considering frequent disruptions every few years.

Tompkin believes innovations in large-scale technology to build global networks, increase the transparency of supply chains and goods distributions are on their way. An integrated network will allow for access to both businesses and consumers to know exactly where components are coming from every step of the way and identify needs in real-time instead of filling orders six months in advance to receive goods.

Companies that recognize their vulnerabilities and seek to understand their supply chains quickly find it can be a daunting task. Supply chain identification experts are professionals dedicated to investigating supply chains from raw materials to production. These experts can be hired and may provide valuable insights into how a company purchases its business components. There is also a trend for increasing consumer interest in supply chains which could drive companies to make educated decisions on supplies based on values other than low-cost for sourcing goods. Some of the most recent trade deals, for instance, consider fair payment for labor and other humanitarian issues, which was seen in the US Mexico and Canada Agreement (USMCA).

As we continue to see new ways to operate through the global pandemic, we are likely to see shifts in supply chain management, along with increased awareness of vulnerabilities. Events such as trade policy shifts, tariffs, natural and human-made disasters will continue to happen, but how much they impact supply chains can be mitigated through understanding weaknesses, data collection, and smarter technology.  Many companies will take this as a lesson learned and find new ways to become more resilient, while others will continue to operate as usual and hope for the best.

References:

Approaches to Exporting

Approaches to Exporting

Posted on March 3, 2021

Approaches to exporting can vary widely for each company, but having an idea of how your company would like to start exporting is a great place to begin. Companies can have a wide range of involvement in their exporting success. Some companies may not even know that their goods are being exported, while others take a direct approach to make international sales. The rewards can be significant in exporting, but there are no guarantees.  One or a combination of the approaches described below may assist in realizing a companies export potential.

Indirect exporting is a hands-off approach that requires little if any involvement from the company producing the goods. In this case, the company producing the goods may not even know that their products are exported. They will not reap the financial gains, risks, or global market exposure associated with this passive exporting tactic.

There are two indirect exporting types. The first is passively filling domestic orders for other buyers who ultimately export the products. The other is working with international buyers who represent the foreign market or end-user to fill those specific orders.

A more direct exporting approach is when a company engages an export management company (EMC) or export trading company (ETC) to manage their exporting business.  EMCs or ETCs are experts in exporting and can provide access to market and trade contacts and a variety of other resources. With this approach, the company maintains more control of the product and its movements. Having control over the process means that the company can oversee more of where their products are going, anticipate inventory, and connect with international markets as a producer. The EMC or ETC will handle much of the paperwork and some of the risks involved with global exports. It is recommended to pay close attention to the contracts with EMC and ETCs to make sure roles are specified.

The most direct approach to exporting is to keep the logistics, payment collection, and paperwork in-house. Long-term direct exporters maintain control over the entire process. They can create connections with international buyers, have keen insights on the global markets, and expand as desired.

The main factors to be considered when choosing an exporting approach:

  • Level of involvement wanted in the exporting process
  • Risk tolerance
  • In house expertise or time availability
  • Available resources, from stock availability to staffing
  • Market development capabilities, research, and marketing

Once it is determined how involved the company should be in the exporting process, there are several steps to move forward. Indirect exporting is a great approach for companies who do not have the staff or resources available to move exports forward. For an indirect exporting approach, there is little need for more company input.

For companies taking an active approach through EMCs or ETCs, seeking out these companies would be the next step. Doing some research and meeting with these experts to determine the level of control or involvement, services they offer, and the companies' goals should be kept in mind.

Direct exporting can be a daunting task initially, and some companies opt to use EMC or ETC for larger or more complex exporting markets while handling nearby exports directly. This mix can help companies become comfortable with direct exporting as they gain more knowledge over time. Direct exporters take on everything from market research, logistics, distribution, and payment collection.  Many direct exporters work through sales or distribution channels for specific markets.

There are many resources available for US exporters. Trade offices such as the North Dakota Trade Office (NDTO), and other states have local experts to assist companies directly. There are also funding opportunities available for exporters. NDTO currently has funding available for ND small businesses for a variety of exporting projects. Reach out to our expert staff at info@ndto.com. The US Commercial Service can assist with market research, strategy counseling, and qualified buyer identification. Export-Import Bank can assist with insurance and loan guarantees. Whichever approach is taken, know that there is a wealth of resources here to help. Finding the right balance for each company's exporting needs is key to growing sustainably over time.

Resources:

ND Participates in International UAS Virtual Mission

ND Participates in International UAS Virtual Mission

Posted on February 3, 2021

North Dakota UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) leaders presented in the SelectUSA UAS Virtual Inbound Investment Mission in late January. The mission hosted companies from Europe, Israel, and Turkey to explore the wide variety of UAS technologies, trends, and applications.

North Dakota was the first state to present over the three-day virtual event, which included introductions from Heather Ranck from the ND US Commercial Services Office, ND Lt. Governor Brent Sanford, and Drew Combs, Executive Director of the North Dakota Trade Office (NDTO). Nick Flom, the Executive Director of the Northern Plains UAS Test Site, Tomas Swoyer, Founder and President of Grand Sky, Brian Carroll, Director of Grand Farm,  and Matt Dunlevy, CEO and Chairman of SkySkopes, each presented on the vitality of UAS technologies and advancements in ND. "Because North Dakota is at the forefront of UAS technology, it was only fitting that North Dakota had the opportunity to present first to the many eager participants. Our state represented itself well with the versatility of applications already being utilized, North Dakota," said Combs.

SelectUSA hosted this mission with 70 companies represented from 19 countries, totaling 122 pre-screened international delegates. The goal is to provide opportunities for foreign investors into the United States and its leading states and companies at the forefront of UAS technology.

ND is an obvious choice for UAS technology growth for a variety of reasons.  Lt. Governor Sanford presented the overwhelming public and private support for UAS technologies, which feeds increasing interest in this sector for ND. Because the growth of UAS in ND has been organic, there are a wide variety of applications and infrastructure built for many of the technology's needs and advancements.

The technology surrounding the UAS boom in ND encompasses applications in value-added agriculture, manufacturing, energy (oil/gas and utilities), tourism, aerospace, and defense. This includes both the private and public sectors with many opportunities for collaboration. The University of North Dakota (UND) offers both undergraduate and graduate programs in UAS and produces top-ranking graduates with well-rounded skills, specifically in UAS operation.

Flom of the Northern Plains UAS Test Site highlighted the innovation and versatility of ND skies and testing for Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) capabilities. With less congested air traffic, ND is an attractive option with more available airspace. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is working through various programs such as BEYOND to increase BVLOS capabilities and scalable projects in ND airspace. The test sites' interests are primarily research and development to include remote infrastructure, data reliability, and researching application elements. The site offers seven locations with various terrain, long-range flight operations, and services industries in oil/gas, electric utilities, medical services, rail systems, roadways, and deliveries.

Grand Sky was introduced by Swoyer, and holds the nation's first and only commercial UAS business and aviation park. Located on the Grand Ford US Airforce Base, the 217 acres are solely purposed to develop, train, and test UAS for commercial use. Home to Northrop Grumman's ND location, and host to many other companies, Grand Sky works to create opportunities for companies of all sizes to harness the power of UAS.

To have a fully autonomous farm by 2025 is Grand Farm's goal, explains director Carroll, based in Fargo, ND. With the reality of feeding more than 10 billion people in the future, they are looking for innovation and collaboration to achieve this goal as swiftly as possible. Farming is a skill of the future, says Carroll, and it is going through a digital transformation as we speak. With research and development support across the entire state and large players investing in their vision, more than 200 projects are currently underway on Grand Farm. UAS will play an essential role in sensing, testing, and a wide variety of other aerial applications.  Grand Farm has a campus-like approach and a strong vision for the future, and both help leverage more partnerships, support, and collaboration for success in ND.

Dunlevy of SkySkopes presented the company as a ND UAS success story. Rooted in Grand Forks, ND, they are top players in utilizing UAS technology across the globe. Focusing on mixed-technology services, Skyskopes touts safety as the top priority and harnesses UAS technology to do jobs that take people out of harm's way.  The company has capabilities using multiple UAS platforms, operating helicopters, and ground-based mobile platforms. They work with technologies in thermal imagery, LiDar, magnetometer surveying, and methane detection. With this versatility, SkySkopes has many applications across a variety of sectors, which continue to increase year after year.

Overall, the story of UAS in ND is nowhere near over, with versatility in testing space, technology, and applications top-of-mind for more than 50 companies in the state. Combs says  "We are excited for what the future holds of UAS in ND, and there is so much growth potential." With ample support from both the private and public sectors, growth in UAS will continue organically, and innovation will thrive.

Member Profile: Dyna Flo Inc.

Member Profile: Dyna Flo Inc.

Posted on February 3, 2021

Many North Dakotans know that living here is not always glamorous. It's full of hard-working experts that solve everyday problems and keep moving forward to get the job done. Dana Rosendahl, owner and designer of Dyna Flo Inc. in Oakes, ND, has that same drive to survive. General Irrigation and Dewatering is Rosendahl's primary business, with more than forty years of water systems experience. Out of the increased need for pumping water away from ditches, fields, and construction sites, Rosendahl thought he could build a more powerful, more portable, and versatile pump to serve a variety of purposes.

Dyna Flo, short for Dynamic Flow, was born in 2009. The pump
was just as described – easy to use, portable, and highway legal. The pump was
initially used as a piece of rental equipment for General Irrigation during the
wet seasons, but as farmers and construction sites saw the need for the DynaFlo
pump, it became more and more popular. 

Updates and improvements have been made to the original pump
over the years, such as increased usability, variable speeds, and increased
durability. Additional exterior stationary pumps and portable float pump
products have been added to the DynaFlo product line. Each iteration is built
out of need, and with their extensive knowledge in pumps, water, and a good
sensibility, the products are made to last. Because they are made the right
way, Rosendahl says, they have persevered. "Field drainage is our most
popular. It's our niche market," says Rosendahl, "the pumps can use
the same impeller from 5 to 20 hours power, and it can push water in many cases
as far as 3000 feet." That impresses a lot of people, he says with pride.

Dyna Flo has increased its reach globally, with dealerships
in Canada, and more recently, Australia. They learned a lot from their
Australian sales trip, funded through STEP ND. Rosendahl and his wife put on
more than 2000 miles across the Australian countryside, meeting with five
dealerships, a few site visits, and connecting with some business partners
along the way. Unfortunately, their visit to establish dealerships for their
pumps was followed by a significant drought, a series of devastating wildfires,
and a global pandemic. Demand for their pumps has been lower than anticipated
due to the needs and priorities of recent global events.

Rosendahl shared some lessons learned from his trip to Australia
and what he would do differently in the future. "I would have engaged more
government. We thought with the contacts we had. We would be all set." He
goes on to explain that involving the government officials may have made the
trip more meaningful. "There would have been more of a media splash,"
he says, hoping to get a few more eyes on the pumps, which can also be used in
many government projects. Shipping to Australia was different from shipping
overland to Canada, with many more rules and regulations to follow. Rosendahl
also recommended not to be afraid to reach out to the media, "let everyone
you can know what you are doing. You never know who could show up."

Speaking with both Dana and son, Ryan Rosendahl, they
explained their ability to pivot and keep busy throughout every season. With
their experience in both irrigation and draining, wet or dry, the Rosendahl's have
a balance to their business that keeps them operating for the long-run.

The future for DynaFlo includes establishing a more stable
dealer network and continued improvement on the pump systems. For more
information on DynaFlo, visit https://dynaflopump.com/.

The Changing Landscape of International Travel

The Changing Landscape of International Travel

Posted on February 3, 2021

With many people tired of quarantine lockdowns and  with vaccines in sight, there is hope on the horizon to explore our world once again. Companies are starting to book international travel to get back to business, but not so fast, say many governments and health organizations, including the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO), that state the risk remains high for contracting the Coronavirus. There are several countries still accepting US travelers, but many precautions are needed before takeoff.

Effective January 26, 2021, all air passengers entering the US must have a negative test within 72 hours prior to boarding their flight back to the US. If you are leaving the US, make sure you are intimately familiar with the government restrictions imposed for your desired destination, which vary widely and can change quickly. Outlined below are the most current details for Canada and Mexico travel to highlight how different countries handle the many challenges with this global pandemic.

Canada is currently only allowing essential travel by land, air, and sea. Non-essential travel includes anything recreational in nature. If your travel is work or education related, especially for critical industries like health, immediate medical care, supply chains, and critical infrastructure, you may be allowed to travel within Canada. Keep in mind their border crossings are operating at reduced capacity.  US citizens also are required to present a 14-day quarantine plan upon entry to Canada, and if regulations are not followed, hefty fines could come into play.

If Mexico is your desired destination, exercise caution as ten of the thirty-two states allow only essential travel as of January 25, 2021, according to the US Embassy & Consulate in Mexico. Non-essential visitors are currently not permitted in Mexico via ground travel. However, air travel is open to non-essential passengers from the US. Passengers returning to the US must present a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of boarding their home-bound flight, so be sure to coordinate testing in Mexico. Some hotels are offering testing services on-site, so be sure to check with your hotel or travel agent for more information. If you test positive, you will not be allowed to travel back to the US, which means a quarantine period in an international location could be a reality.

If International travel is in your future, consider the following before making your arrangements:

  • Frequently check the travel restrictions for your destination, as governments are moving quickly to update and regulate travel flow. Travel.State.Gov is a good resource to keep up-to-date on the latest travel information.
  • Have a plan and get connected with the local testing agencies both in the US and abroad to ensure that the airlines' timelines (in many cases 72 hours) can be met.
  • Getting stuck in-country is a real possibility if your test comes back positive. Proactively have an idea of the destination's requirements for quarantined individuals. There are even some hotels boasting that you can stay for free if you test positive.
  • Invest in travel insurance, but be sure to read the fine print. Be sure there is coverage for changes/cancellation in travel and medical expenses that may be incurred due to COVID-19.

There are still many opportunities in which it is necessary to travel internationally, as our own Director of Operations, Lindsey Warner, will be representing the North Dakota Trade Office at GulFood in Dubai later this month. The Dubai food show is still committing to a live event and has not transitioned to virtual activities, but safety is a top priority for the show this year. NDTO has participated with several ND companies in the past, is interested in seeing how the show has changed in the face of a global pandemic. Arranging travel to Dubai has been a learning experience as Warner said, "Ensuring that all travel guidelines are met has been an interesting process. There are plenty of resources available online, but if you are unsure about any of the restrictions, do not hesitate to ask questions. Reach out to your travel agent, the embassy or consulate for the country you are traveling to, or call us at the NDTO. We are here to help you travel as safely as possible."

While international travel is a challenge right now, there is no replacement for in-person relationship building. The opportunity to get back to business and continue the flow of goods, ideas, and innovation is enticing. Preparations and precautions are going to be key if you decide that international travel is worth the risk for you. Below are some resources to aid in preparations and keep up-to-date with constantly changing restrictions. 

Resources

CDC- Requirement for Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test or Recovery from

COVID-19 for All Air Passengers Arriving in the United States

US State Department- International Travel

US Embassy & Consulates in Canada

US Embassy & Consulates in Mexico

Member Profile: EZ Spot UR

Member Profile: EZ Spot UR

Posted on January 6, 2021

Earl Emerson has built EZ Spot UR from the ground up, harnessing the many years of life lessons he's collected along the way to bring forth this successful business.  EZ Spot UR is pronounced "easy spot-er." The name is in reference to one of their attachments that enables you to "easily spot" and park using their hitch attachment. The "UR" references the birthplace of civilization, Emerson says. The city of Ur thrived in early Mesopotamia with its convenient location in the mouth of the Euphrates river, with abundant opportunities for trade and a fertile landscape.

One of the first successful tools was built out of need, just like all the future EZ Sport UR attachments."A buddy and I built a sandbagger attachment for the skid steer to pick and dump sand out through chutes directly into the hands of sandbaggers," explains Emerson. This equipment proved to be more efficient, and they started thinking of more opportunities for attachments that could "reduce the man in manual labor," says Emerson.   He worked for Bobcat at the time, where he was able to test and receive feedback for the Speed Bagger.  Emerson continued to be inventive with integrating functional attachments to skid steers. "It's a valuable tool (the skid steer), but most people were just digging holes with it," and building attachments for those valuable tools has grown into a successful business.  The direct uses for his attachments have proven themselves repeatedly.

Emerson talked specifically about their products showing strength and versatility for one element that impacts everyday life, an element that you are using right now... electricity!  It is not uncommon for the poles carrying valuable electricity to be destroyed or fall out of place during ice storms. The Pole Setter attachment can out-maneuver many large truck alternatives to place these large poles faster and more effectively, especially in hard to reach areas. The electricity grids are also expanding globally, and EZ Spot UR has showcased its products' value for a wide variety of projects.

EZ Spot UR's attachments are created from client need, and they have a whole team willing to work on getting a company what it needs to be effective in what they do best. More recently, the EZ Spot UR team has worked with law-enforcement for tactical equipment and a variety of other useful attachments.  "When a product's got value, and people see that value, it will sell itself," says Emerson. He explains that major manufacturers will not often build custom attachments, and they certainly can't do it cost-effectively. "We have a wealth of knowledge here [Fargo area] with three collages right in our backyard, a whole wealth of people, and we have to tap into that. I have been working with an engineer from NDSU. He grew up with me in this business, learning together and now he is a valuable asset." Earl goes on to say that he utilizes many local resources such as the North Dakota Trade Office and professors at NDSU that helped him from exporting to pricing his products for the markets. With so much talent in the FM area,  he likes to give them opportunities.

As Emerson continued talking and jumping from topic to topic with ease, it was apparent that he had so much life experience behind his voice. Much of which is present in how EZ Spot UR operates, how it came to be, and what the future holds. Here are a couple of life lessons from Emerson that have brought him success over the years.

  • "Treat your business like a baby." That means that you have to be one hundred percent committed, feeding it at 2 am, keeping it clean, making sure it has all the right tools to get through the day. As you watch it grow up, you can let go, little by little, and you will see your influence. So, be sure to give it strong values, and Emerson explains.
  • "I learned two things in the army.  To get up and go to work and do a good job when you get there."
  • "There are opportunities out there all the time, but you have to recognize them and be brave enough to take them ."
  • "Effort is key. You gotta' put in the effort and stick with it"

When it comes to exporting, Emerson also had some learned lessons. He described a 'rookie mistake' he once made with his first international order. "I had my first international order –  it was for 25 attachments to Africa –  and I made a mistake and built them all. Then the order fell through," he says with a chuckle. Now, EZ Spot UR exports across the globe, with many attachments going to Canada, Australia, China, India, and Japan. The company continues to see increases in sales as more rural countries connect to the power grid, and the attachments often require less capital than larger trucks that only do one job.

Keeping EZ Spot UR as a local operation is important to Emerson, having grown up in this community and tapping into the vast amount of local talent here in North Dakota. Building this company has not been a "me, me, me" type operation.  Emerson explains that he lives comfortably, and he takes the responsibility to ensure that his team can provide for their families very seriously. He believes that not cutting corners, providing solid, well-built attachments with proven value will go a long way to keeping the company thriving for many years to come.

For more information on EZ Spot UR, visit their

From Export Assistant to Business Owner

From Export Assistant to Business Owner

Posted on January 6, 2021

We caught up with Franco Weisser, who previously participated in the NDTO Export Assistant Program, working at Titan Machinery, and was hired full-time after graduation. This spring, Franco decided to move back to Chile and start his own business selling agricultural machinery and spare parts in South America.

He has an obvious enthusiasm for ag machinery, and these passions stem from his father. He remembers that his dad could fix anything while working on a variety of farms in Chile, so, Franco grew up around big farms and their equipment, which inspired his future. Taking that love further, he graduated from the University of Concepción with a soil sciences master's degree. His first introduction to Fargo, ND, was in 2012. While studying for his master's,  he participated in a four-month collaborative program with North Dakota State University (NDSU) to further his studies. Franco returned to Fargo in 2014 to pursue an additional master's in International Agribusiness at NDSU and became an Export Assistant with the North Dakota Trade Office (NDTO). He completed the assistantship with Titan, working on their international sales team, and then was hired full time after graduation.

"I loved Fargo, and I loved working for Titan. They trusted me, and I appreciated so many of the experiences I was afforded," Franco says as he reflects on his program.  He did not particularly favor learning through textbooks, and that is why his assistantship with Titan was so valuable. He says that working with Titan made him feel very connected.

"I never felt like I was a student. I always talked with people at other companies in other countries, which made me feel connected to the business. You will learn a lot of "theory" in school, but if you have the opportunity to connect with people and be in the market at the same time, it is a priceless experience!"

Because of the program, he learned so much more about the agricultural machinery industry with hands-on experience with fixing equipment, dealing with customers directly, and working with real people, practicing his industry and language skills on the job.

"Fargo is a paradise for anyone interested in ag machinery," he says, and he wanted to learn as much as he could about ag machinery. Titan provided opportunities for Franco to follow his passion. When he told his supervisor that he wanted more experience in fixing equipment (as this would be essential for his dream to start his own business in Chile), they set him up with their Moorhead dealership for some training with a mechanic.

Franco credits his experience as an export assistant, paired with working for Titan for several years, has opened too many doors for him. Although it has been a tough year for so many, Franco set out on his own in early 2020. After recognizing a niche market for a one-of-kind customer service approach and responsiveness to clients, he is building an ag machinery and parts business in South America. This past year, he has proven that his company, Weisser Equipment & Machinery, will be successful.  As the pandemic conditions improve, Franco is looking forward to getting out into the industry and working with more people to ensure they have quality parts, products, and a smooth overall experience.

Happy to be back in Chile and working on his dream job, he couldn't let me go without turning his phone around to show a panorama of his beautiful view of the Andes Mountains from home. He missed the mountains while in Fargo and now can orient himself properly with their presence. Franco always wanted to come back to Chile, and now with such a great foundation, there are so many new opportunities ahead.

We wish him well, thank him again for his participation in the NDTO Export Assistant Program, and look forward to working with him in the future.

How Foreign-Trade Zones can Benefit You

How Foreign-Trade Zones can Benefit You

Posted on January 6, 2021

There is at least one Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) in every US state, and they can be a powerhouse for streamlining many processes and saving money in businesses that are importing and exporting. FTZs are geographic locations designed to sit outside of US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) territory. Benefits of FTZs can include reduced, delayed, or maybe even no duty costs, streamlined logistics, and supply chains, decreased Customs filings, and potentially inverted or reduced tariffs.

North Dakota is home to two FTZs, Grand Forks (#103) and Fargo (#267). Both qualify as general-purpose FTZs, operating as public utilities that can have several services to multiple users.

FTZs essentially operate as if they are on foreign soil. They are specifically designated geographic areas that operate outside of the US. Goods within the Zones have not cleared by US Customs procedures for import into the US. FTZs can house several types of approved operations to handle and manipulate these goods for end users without officially entering US markets. A few examples of allowed activities within an FTZ are warehousing, manufacturing, assembly, processing, labeling, repairing, salvaging, and even testing goods. Companies may hold products in the FTZ until they are re-exported to another country or make their way into US markets.

Therefore, products can be imported without clearing US Customs or paying taxes/duties and re-exported to another country. If the products' end market is the US, Customs duties are then paid upon entry into the US market.  Keep in mind, however, the FTZs are still subject to federal, state, and local laws.  The Zones are typically adjacent to Customs Ports of Entry but remain outside of the US's commerce activity.  According to US Foreign-Trade Zone Board, in 2019, more than 200 communities have an FTZ that employs more than 420,000 people across the US.

In 1934, The Foreign Trade Zones Act in the Roosevelt administration was passed to "expedite and encourage foreign commerce" in the US. Merchandise of all descriptions can be held in the Zone without being subject to Customs duties and other such taxes.  By the 1950s, the FTZ Act was updated to include manufacturing activities within the Zones, which vastly increased their popularity and cost-effectiveness. Additional updates were needed to make FTZs more competitive. In the 1980s, the National Association of Foreign-Trade Zones (NAFTZ) had convinced the US Customs Service that manufactured goods in the FTZ should not be assessed by the value-added in the US (domestic parts, labor, overhead, and materials). With this update, FTZs would encourage reinvestment in the Zones' activities in the US, making a more even playing field for global trade.

Benefits of an FTZ:

The benefits of an FTZ can vary based on the activities and authority of the FTZ itself. FTZs may provide the following benefits.

  • Exemption or deferral of duties can apply in and FTZs. Tax or duties are applied by the end market, not within the FTZ itself.
  • Re-exporting a product without paying duties.
  • There can be a reduction in Merchandise Processing Fees (MPF), which are based on an item's value and often outside of the fees from duties/taxes incurred on import.
  • Inverted tariffs are possible depending on the operation and the manipulation of the product within the FTZ.  If the products were coming into the US market, the manufacturer would pay the end-product tariff, which is often lower than each individual component.
  • Logistics and reporting can be streamlined with consistent and potentially fewer reporting obligations.
  • Transportation costs can also be reduced by not moving goods as far or as much with a designated FTZ.
  • Security requirements and CBP supervision may reduce companies' overall insurance costs due to increased security.

There may already be an FTZ near you; here is a list of all the FTZs in the US. Existing FTZs can be a great resource to better understand how your company can benefit.

How do you apply and establish an FTZ?

Establishing an FTZ has been a lengthy process in the past. More recently, the FTZ Board has streamlined its process for a quicker, more user-friendly approach. The FTZ Board processes applications and approves the FTZ for operations. Once approved, the CBP office will need to be contacted for official activation.  CBP will conduct background investigations of key personnel, review the site's inventory control systems and security procedure to assess the site for full activation. Applications types, processing, and summary documents can be found on the International Trade Administration's FTZ website.

Overlooking opportunities an FTZ could provide a company that frequently exports may be costly over time. By maximizing the potential of an FTZ, companies can see a variety of benefits and harness the power of their surroundings and the movement of goods. If you have more exporting questions, feel free to reach out to the team at the North Dakota Trade Office.

Helpful Resources:

CBP Foreign-Trade Zone Website (includes links to FAQ, FTZ Manual, and more)

US Foreign-Trade Zone Board Annual Report

International Trade Administrations FTZ

Member Profile: Healthy Oilseeds

Member Profile: Healthy Oilseeds

Posted on December 3, 2020

Twenty-three countries and still counting, says Roger Gussiaas, owner of Healthy Oilseeds. We virtually sat down with Gussiaas and his sister and Sales Associate, Karen Gussiaas-Smith, for insights on their exporting success and their passion for Healthy Oilseeds and its products.

The Gussiaas' have been farming for several generations, but Healthy Oilseeds itself started in 2002. "Every business has a story, and often it is the unique people that make those stories come to life," Karen says, and Roger jokes, "and Karen loves stories, but it really has made a difference to tell our story." The story of Healthy Oilseeds has a lively spirit full of passion and a drive to do better. Rogers' son, Brock Gussiaas, passed away unexpectedly in 2014. "Brock is the heart of the company. He had a business mind, loved his work, loved working with dad, and to see the progress of seeds all the way to the finished product," says Karen.  Roger adds, "His heart and soul are still with this company. It drives this company to do better… he is with us every day, helping us overcome difficult things." This passion is present in everything Healthy Oilseeds does.

The company has grown to reach 23 countries worldwide, and with this momentum, they keep looking for more opportunities to expand. Healthy Oilseeds has employees from Kazakhstan, Moldova, Spain, and Columbia who are quintessential to doing business overseas and understanding each market's intricacies. Roger's wife, Nurgul, originally from Kazakhstan, is an integral part of the company working with the third-party Primus food safety certification. She is also vital in the day-to-day operations, from working in the office to operating a forklift to ensure shipments make it all over the world.

When asked how Healthy Oilseeds got into exporting, Roger replied that there were only two ways to gain wealth for an area, "that is tourism or exporting. We didn't think tourism would work well in Carrington.  I thought exporting might bring in more dollars, so, we started exporting in 2002." Roger and Karen's father was always impressed by exporters, and Brock saw the potential as well. With those two inventive spirits and Roger's drive, Healthy Oilseeds has had abundant success exporting.

The Gussiaas family has grown more than 25 different crops over the years and have taken each as a learning experience. They lean more towards specialized crops with ND grown flaxseed, hempseed, and borage rather than corn and soybeans. The company has achieved Primus Global Food Safety Certification, Certified Organic, and Kosher to ensure their products are superior in quality. They want to ensure transparency and let consumers know exactly what they are purchasing to build trust in Healthy Oilseeds' products.

The company started growing hempseed in 2016, as another very healthy oilseed, and it would complement the processing and marketing of flaxseed. Healthy Oilseeds' presses for oil are now running 24/7 for hempseed and other oils. The benefits of hempseeds are not only seen in humans, but also help horse owners remedy some common problems including digestion, skin ailments, and overall joint health of horses. Beyond edible seeds and oils, there is an increasing demand, (especially with the quality certifications) for ingredients in environmentally friendly cosmetics, skincare, soaps, and even artistic paints.

Karen, a former family and consumer science teacher, spoke about the impact of going on trade missions and what a great experience it is. "These opportunities just open our eyes to the whole world of how food comes to our tables, that something in ND can make a difference globally. I taught farm to table lessons, but now with this global perspective, it shows me how North Dakota can grow food the whole world needs." Exporting can open new opportunities globally, and some of the best ways to do that, Karen says, is to explore, go on a trade mission, meet people, and see how your company can impact more broadly. "There are more market opportunities if you look beyond your borders and your products can often be sold at higher prices," Roger points out.  Although it has its own challenges, getting into exporting can be a very rewarding experience with the right team and passion guiding you, both Roger and Karen agree.

Roger has a reputation for giving back and doing what it takes to get the job done. He firmly believes in passing down knowledge. He says, "It feels good to share, and we all lack knowledge in one way or another. Everyone needs help, and we all have to give back. We all take it, so we have to give it too." Karen highlights, "when I see Roger present at conferences or talk to others, I am impressed by all those who look up to him and how many people go to him for advice. She describes an excellent farmer in central ND that Roger helped with his harvest this fall. Roger pitched in and went to help with the harvest because that is what needed to get done. Roger also appreciates the opportunity to experience combining of hemp since it can be a challenging crop to harvest.

The company continues its local engagement with a University of Jamestown marketing group, an internship with a Concordia College student, and even a high-school student who all offer their talents and get real-world experience. "They tell us when things are working… we can learn a lot from young people. Especially the direction of the consumer," says Roger. He emphasizes that the younger generations will determine the consumers' wants and Healthy Oilseeds benefits from seeing what the younger generations like, what they are interested in. "It's fun to see the energy and enthusiasm of youth. Then you are connected to see where their lives go. As a teacher, I love working with young people and seeing them grow!" adds Karen. The students they work with have great ideas and point them in new directions on how to engage with different generations, what things should look like, or how they expect them to work. Healthy Oilseeds places a high value on young voices and loves to tap into the passion that many have for life.

What's next for Healthy Oilseeds? Well, country twenty-four, of course! They have been lucky with low impact from the coronavirus on their business and look forward to new opportunities in the Caribbean and maybe even New Zealand.

https://healthyoilseeds.com/