Member Profile: Dakota Air Parts

Member Profile: Dakota Air Parts

Posted on March 31, 2021

Dakota Air Parts Intl., Inc. (aka Dakota) has been serving the operators around the globe by supplying their requirements that range from smaller consumables up to entire aircraft like the Bell UH-1 “Huey” helicopters since 1994. The Fargo-based company has over 40,000 square feet of warehouse space filled with aviation essentials. NDTO had the opportunity to connect with Shawn Johnston, General Manager, and Maddie Hanson, the Trade Show Coordinator.  Dakota has continued to grow since its founding through strategic business partnerships both domestically and internationally.

Dakota Air Parts and its strategic partners specialize in the buying, selling, and support of rotor-wing and fixed-wing aircraft, turbine engines, and parts - OEM & aftermarket. Supported platforms include: UH-1 “Huey,” OH-58 “Kiowa,” OH-6 “Cayuse,” Bell 206, 204/205, 212, 412, 407, MD 500 series, Honeywell T53 and T55 engines, and Rolls-Royce M250 series turbine engines. Dakota routinely purchases surplus aircraft, engines, and aviation inventories which are brought to its warehouses, inventoried, marketed, and resold.

“While we support a wide range of aircraft including commercial aircraft and business jets, our niche,” Johnston explains, ”is rotor-wing and, more specifically, ex-military aircraft. Our customer base ranges from government and military operations, police, commercial uses in agriculture, forestry, and firefighting - and then there is the occasional individual who has one as personal aircraft.”

Helicopters, when properly maintained, have a long lifespan. For example, Dakota purchased a fleet of UH-1 Iroquois from the Royal New Zealand Air Force in 2016, a fleet that had been in operation for nearly 50 years. The aircraft, parts, tooling, and equipment to keep the fleet operational were all purchased by Dakota, who in turn used this material to support other UH-1 operators with the items they needed to continue to operate and maintain this durable platform.

Keeping a stockpile of parts, Johnston explains, is part of Dakota’s success because OEM’s and repair facilities often have limited inventories. Dakota can provide those parts on short notice if needed. “A good example of this is when a firefighting crew is operating and they need to replace a flight-critical part. Sometimes a needed part isn’t available from the manufacturer until months in the future.  Those guys can’t wait, and that is where we come in,” says Johnston. Hanson adds, “and because we have been in business so long, people know who we are and what we do. Dakota has an excellent, loyal customer base.“ Inventory and how quickly parts can turn around is always top-of-mind for the team. With their advanced software and infrastructure, they can track parts and orders and do business all over the world in real-time.

Although the company did not start off exporting, there was a substantial market for it, and the team at Dakota jumped right in. There are many opportunities worldwide for supporting aircraft operators ranging from governments to private owners. Their advice to exporters is to be as detail-oriented as possible.  Johnston advised, “one small thing that should have taken an hour could turn into days or weeks of your time. Come into exporting with specific, detailed questions, even if they seem like silly questions.” The more information you know upfront, like how the shipping works, what is needed to get items off the vessels, at what point are you getting paid, are all excellent questions to ask. The team remembers when a shipment was ready for pick-up, and although there was a forklift, there was no one there to operate the machine. “What a learning experience!” said Hanson.  Each set of questions will be different, and for Dakota, it is highly dependent on the product, says Johnston, “much of our inventory gets shipped by common carriers like FedEx or UPS, but then we ship whole helicopters too.  There is a different set of requirements and a whole round of questions each time.”

With the pandemic reducing global travel and events, it has been challenging to meet with existing and potential customers. Trade shows are an important part of Dakota’s business, but many shows of interest have either been postponed or canceled altogether.  With new virtual platforms available, the company has tried a few different options, “I don’t think we quite got what we wanted [from the virtual trade shows]. We are based on relationship building, which is more challenging in a virtual space,” says Hanson. According to Hanson, some of the virtual activities have been great practice for the business development team. Johnston adds that “the trade shows have been difficult. Not being able to meet in person is a challenge, and I don’t know if anyone has figured it all out yet.” This can be especially hard for companies with a diverse range of products to offer. ”Dakota is hard to define sometimes. At trade shows, people will accidentally stop by our booth, and we get to talking, then we find opportunities. With the virtual platforms, this is more difficult,” explains Johnston.

Dakota is looking ahead as they expand into business jet inventory and different types of aircraft. The next steps will help with diversification while continuing to support rotor-wing platforms like the UH-1 will help make Dakota Air Parts more sustainable overall.

For  more information about Dakota Air Parts, please visit

Exporting in the Time of COVID-19: Trade Policy

Exporting in the Time of COVID-19: Trade Policy

Posted on March 31, 2021

To continue NDTO's series on the effects of COVID-19 on different aspects of global trade, we are taking a closer look into recent trade policy trends. The global economy continues to be impacted by the pandemic, magnifying disparities, trade practices, and what can be changed for the future. Trends in trade policy can ease burdens, while others may cause more problems in the long run. The pandemic has offered an opportunity to take a closer look into underlying issues in many countries' economies and infuse trade policy to align with well-intended values for change.

There were quick reactions to COVID-19 on the trade policy front from many countries, both to liberalize and restrict imports and exports for specific products. Many pivots in policy change were made as short-term measures, while other policies were enacted without an end date in sight.

In a short period of time, large sections of the global trade shifted. One of the most comprehensive lists of trade policy updates relating to the pandemic is on the World Trade Organizations (WTO) website listed in the references below. Of this list, nearly 1000 policies are tied to medical products. While some policies removed tariffs on these types of imports, others apply export restrictions. For instance, in March 2020, Canada waved all tariffs and sales taxes on goods imported by public health agencies, hospitals, testing sites, and first response organizations. The US recently extended a restriction to export medical resources (e.g., surgical N-95 filtering facepiece respirators, PPE surgical mask, PPE nitrile gloves, level 3 and 4 surgical gowns and surgical isolation gowns, syringes, and hypodermic needles) requiring Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) authorization through June 2021. Many examples like this exist across the globe, but some of these new rules and growing trade tensions have caused trade experts to revisit ideas of protectionism and its impact on the global economy.

Protectionism essentially favors domestic products and creates policies and practices to reduce competition from foreign countries. These policies and practices are seen in government subsidies, tariffs, quotas on goods, and more subtly in currency manipulation. While experts typically agree that there are short-term benefits to protectionism, the practice ultimately slows industry improvement and global competition, as noted by Kimberly Amadeo, president of World Money Watch. Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) are a good way to avoid protectionism and encourage a thriving economy.  More recently, the US and many developed countries have agreed to some of the largest FTAs in history. The US Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) is currently the largest, but with the upcoming finalization of the Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership (TTIP), it may have a greater impact on the global economy. The US is not currently a part of TTIP.

Under the Trump Administration, the "America First" policies will see changes as the Biden Administration announced its goals for trade policies in early March of 2021. On this agenda, COVID-19 is at the forefront to "Build Back Better" with an emphasis on a fair international trading system taking into account more than just the bottom line.

In the 2021 Trade Policy Agenda, COIVID-19 recovery is the top priority for this administration. With that, the pandemic has brought to light several areas of concern in the global trade realm, such as supply chain vulnerabilities, fair labor practices worldwide, and domestic inequities. The 2021 Trade Policy Agenda states that "In the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the devastating effect of persistent economic disparities on communities of color." The administration seeks data and community input to take corrective action, which will, in turn, impact trade policy through labor, wages, and increased economic opportunities.

As with the US, many other countries see a magnification of social issues pertaining to business ownership, inequality in the workforce, and previously unrealized obstacles due to lockdowns and shifting economies.  Trade policy can be implemented as a top-down approach, says Dr. Amarita Bahri, Assistant Professor of Law, ITAM and Co-Chair Professor, WTO Chair Program, Mexico. "This crisis presents a unique opportunity to explore how trade policies, including the pursuit of free trade agreements (FTAs), can contribute to women's empowerment and hence place women at the heart of economic recovery in the post-COVID-19 world," says Bahri. Although there are many existing provisions in FTAs regarding gender equality and enthusiasm as high, follow-through is often lacking. Many of the standing agreements do not provide funding, implementation, or means to favor these practices. While the policies are well intended, without proper support, many can be considered dead on arrival. Awareness is key to inserting humanitarian issues into trade policies as more than just best practices. The global pandemic has increased the visibility of economic disparities for many countries, creating an atmosphere primed for discussion for future improvement.

In September of 2020, a "Policy Hackathon" was organized by the United Nations Economic Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and a collaborative effort United Nations Regional Commissions (ECA, ECLAC, ESCWA, and UNECE), UNCTAD, and WTO. The program collected ideas from government, academia, think tanks, and private sector experts to hypothesize or develop provisions for trade policies during times of crisis (such as a global pandemic). The result was over 100 contributions from 134 individuals and 45 teams. The information takes the form of policy briefs, research papers, and team reports, all of which are publicly available through ESCAP. They are grouped into several topics, including essential goods/import-export restrictions, trade facilitation, agriculture and foodstuffs, gender and regional trade agreements, and government procurement.

The global pandemic's impact has been significant across many sectors, and trade policy is only one of many. Though this article does not explore the vast amount of specifics, it may encourage visibility and awareness for how trade policy impacts our everyday world and what we can see for long-lasting effects.

References :

Word Trade Organization: COVID-19: Measures Affecting Trade in Goods

Kimberly Amadeo, The Balance., Trade Protectionism Methods with Examples, Pros, and Cons

2021 Trade Policy Agenda and 2020 Annual Report: Biden Administration Releases 2021 President's Trade Agenda and 2020 Annual Report

UNESCAP, Online Repository of Contributions to the Policy Hackathon Model Provisions for Trade in the Times of Crisis and Pandemic

Bahri, Amarita, Trade Experettes,  Putting Women at the Heart of Post-COVID-19 Economic Recovery: How Trade Agreements Can Help

The Japan America Society of Minnesota is Branching into the Dakotas

The Japan America Society of Minnesota is Branching into the Dakotas

Posted on March 31, 2021

Meet Rio Saito, the Executive Director of the Japan America Society of Minnesota (JASM).  JASM is one of 38 such organizations across the US that belong to the National Association of Japan-America Societies. The goals of JASM are to promote mutual understanding, collaboration, and respect between the US and Japanese citizens. The Japanese government and many communities are curious to learn more about what North Dakota has to offer.

Saito explains that in this current environment, we see communities dividing, and differences can be scary. “JASM wants to take those feelings down, and show you something new, and really have fun with you. We have so many opportunities to learn and bring both cultures together.” In recent months, JASM has embraced digital platforms to connect with members and promote ties between the two cultures. They continue to offer business programming, meet and greets, and events like their recently completed spring festival Shinshunkai. The event hosted cooking and kimono demonstrations, performances by Damien “Nijya” D’Luxe, a Japanese drag king; the rock band Kazha; and ballet dancer Yuki Tokuda. Keeping activities like this going helps people still feel like they have a community, and JASM wanted to provide opportunities to relax and have fun through the virtual platform.

“Planting seeds for the future,” Saito says, “is the goal of JASM, and we have several programs to engage people and businesses at every level.” They sponsor a local J-Quiz competition, where high school students compete with their Japanese knowledge and language skills. The winner goes on to compete in Washington, DC for the National Japan Bowl. Next, the Mondale Scholarship, named after former vice president Walter Mondale who served as the US Ambassador to Japan in 1993-96, supports undergraduate students interested in expanding their knowledge of Japan. JASM also offers college  students internship opportunities. For professionals, the experience continues with informal conversational language gatherings, business meetings covering various topics, and cultural activities.

For North Dakota, JASM wants to expand programming beyond Minnesota borders and show how meaningful a community like this can be. “I hope there will be a group formed in ND similar to JASM, and we can show them how to do it so that people who are interested [in Japan] have a place to get together and explore. That would be wonderful,” explains Saito.

With much interest from the Japanese government in the Dakotas, it is an excellent opportunity to become more familiar and build connections with our Japanese friends. With the digital environment we are now adapting to, it has become much easier to collaborate and make these types of connections. JASM is a piece of that bridge for the future.

Certificates of Origin

Certificates of Origin

Posted on March 31, 2021

A Certificate of Origin (CO) is a document used to certify where a product or good came from. This is essential for many trade transactions to properly determine the tariffs that should be applied to each particular good.  Several pieces of information need to be considered for COs, as each country may have variations for required signatures, information, and different types of COs altogether, all of which depend on the destination.

The CO should accompany most exports and be independent of other documents like the packing lists and commercial invoices. While it is not always required to have a CO, it may speed up customs processing to specifically call out the origin of the goods. New advancements for electronic COs are becoming more and more popular, as they remove the logistics to get in-person signatures and increase time efficiency. Several companies facilitate eCOs and provide templates for each country.

There are two types of COs commonly used. The first is the generic or non-preferential CO. These are for goods that do not qualify for preferential treatment under a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Buyers often need the CO to be certified by an external entity for finalization. The external entity may be a Chamber of Commerce or Trade Office. Often, a statement outlining the origin of the goods on company letterhead is sufficient to meet a generic COs requirement.

In some cases, self-certification is allowable, however it may not be the case for every CO. It is always a good practice to check with the destination country/business to meet documentation requirements before shipping the goods overseas. Many buyers are willing to provide example documents that meet their needs. Several templates are available through US Customs, brokers, freight forwarders, and the destination country’s Chamber of Commerce.

Another type of CO document is for preferential treatment, often called an FTA certification. These certifications are optional but may help with smoother processing through customs. When two countries have an agreed-upon FTA or quota, it can be beneficial for a company to declare their goods for preferential treatment with a CO to lower their tariff rate. US products can enter markets at a more competitive rate due to the reduced tariffs through the FTA.

FTAs between the US and other countries do not require a specific form, but they do outline the types of information necessary to declare origin properly. The required export documents like the commercial invoice typically include the necessary origin details. To ease customs processing, it is recommended to claim goods through an FTA (if one is present) and have a CO accompanying the exporting documentation.

Typical information requested on FTA Certificate of Origin documents includes:

  • Legal name/contact information for the importer, exporter, and producers of shipment
  • Date of certification
  • Specify the period of time the CO is valid
  • HS code
  • Description of goods
  • Country of origin (must be within FTA)
  • Describe the preference criteria (rule of origin)
  • Name of certified person, contact information, and signature

When completing COs, they should be filled out as fully and accurately as possible, aligning with the destinations countries' needs. Companies may find it worthwhile to create their own template when the need for COs arise or utilize logistics providers and shipping companies that offer a variety of templates. Whichever way is best for the company to define the origin of a good, the CO certification is an exporting document to become more familiar with. The North Dakota Trade Office is here to assist with any questions, and you will also find some helpful resources below.


US Customs and Border Protection: Certification of Origin Template

International Trade Administration: FTA Certifications of Origin

David Noah, Shipping Solutions, When to Use a Certification of Origin Form for Your Export Shipments

North Dakota’s Continued Partnership with the United Kingdom

North Dakota’s Continued Partnership with the United Kingdom

Posted on March 31, 2021

On March 16th the North Dakota Trade Office, in partnership with Her Majesty’s Government, hosted an agriculture roundtable to discuss furthering the partnership between the United Kingdom and North Dakota. Speakers included Consul-General Alan Gogbashian (Chicago), Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for North America Antony Phillipson, Jennifer Groover, Senior Policy Advisor for Trade & Agriculture UK Embassy, Washington D.C., and ND Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring.

The roundtable was attended by a broad selection of North Dakota’s agricultural leaders. The discussion, in addition to the overall UK/ND relations, centered around greater cooperation in trade and investments, both in the UK and ND, in the agriculture space. Delegates spoke about opportunities, issues, and outlook for greater cooperation with North Dakota’s ninth largest trading partner.

This event is the first of series of UK/ND roundtable’s that will focus on various industries and opportunities. Please be sure to check in periodically for times and dates of the next roundtable discussion.

Meet NDTO’s Newest Team Member

Meet NDTO’s Newest Team Member

Posted on March 16, 2021

The North Dakota Trade Office is excited to welcome Reshab Kumar to our team as an International Business Manager. With enthusiasm for global business and law, a hardworking attitude, and fresh perspectives, he will complement the NDTO team. Reshab is based in Bismarck for easy access to the western side of North Dakota.

As a recent graduate of the University of Mary, he holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a digital marketing certificate from Columbia Business School.  Reshab is ready to get right to work connecting with ND businesses, with his interests and connections in the oil and gas industry. Fluent in Hindi and conversational in Spanish, his extensive travels provide an excellent foundation for growing with the many of the ND businesses we serve. Welcome to the team, Reshab.

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:

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.


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 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.


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.