HC International (HCI) is a company truly built on customer service. This two-person operation noticed a performance gap from their peers and grew their own company to export and trade agricultural commodities. Curt Petrich and partner Heather Heley created HCI in 2016 and haven’t looked back. Working with the farmers, growers, and buyers, Petrich has always enjoyed agriculture and has made it his career. He continues to work with them all to make the process of buying and selling commodities as seamless as possible. This month, he was more than happy to share his experience in the world of exporting.
When trading commodities, HCI is an expert connector, working with local growers and farmers and making connections for export markets to fulfilling everyone’s needs as best they can. Getting into this type of business takes skill, determination, and commitment to the customers, Petrich explains. These skills will set a trader apart from others, and that is what HCI continues to do. “We are able to pick up business because previous suppliers don’t respond, and I always take the time to pick up the phone,” says Petrich. “And this is where the magic happens, as we [HCI] can often assist where others previously could not – or would not.” Being a small company and making decisions quickly is an advantage for HCI; the company is more agile than larger firms. HCIs’ paradigm is also to do what is best for their customers, making recommendations and market evaluations that are right for their clients, not just HCI. They are able to thrive off of referrals and their own tenacity for gaining clients.
His secret to exporting? “Get yourself a skilled logistic person or company, and one who will stick with you,” says Petrich. Although many new technologies help with logistics, there is still so much uncertainty with shipping products internationally. Having a skilled and patient logistics support can enhance the operation immensely, as logistics can change rapidly. For example, with only one delay in the shipping process, it will mean that everything after, logistically, will likely need to be updated and redone, and that can happen several times throughout the route.
“Trading like this can be a tough job,” Petrich explains. The shippers and the buyers take on all the risk once the products are out of the fields, and Petrich laughs as he says, “there is no crop insurance for what we do.” The continued shipping delays throughout the globe are causing havoc in many industries, and HCI is not alone. “This would be a fun business if we didn’t have to ship anything!” jokes Petrich.
“Global shipping has certainly been a challenge,” he notes, as many of us are aware. Petrich goes on to add that historically, much of the overland shipping in the Midwest had not been as robust as needed. However, he argues that many involved in exporting today would much rather go back to how the shipping behaved twenty-plus months ago than how it is now.
The conversation shifted as Petrich reflected on the global state of affairs, “There is so much noise on the globe with Russian aggression and trade barriers with China, but we still have so many issues to work out domestically. This includes labor shortage, inland shipping, and port congestion.” All of which are ongoing topics not isolated to ND companies. “I suspect another business disruptor will come to change how things are done,” says Petrich, “they have to. Exporters in the Midwest cannot continue to operate with this much uncertainty.” We have seen many disruptors in other business models. It will just take some time.” Like so many other seasoned exporters, he is watching to see the changes in global trade, shipping, and the challenges that will be overcome, hopefully in the near future.
According to Petrich, HCI is a dedicated and hard-working team of two who focus on customers’ needs and have a proactive approach to doing business, which sets them apart. If you are in need of HCI’s services, Curt Petrich can be reached at +1 701.850.0340.