The North Dakota Trade Office announced Tuesday the launching of a new program designed to assist state exporters who face production challenges that limit sales and growth in high-demand foreign markets.
The Trade Office has hired Mike Seifert, a business development specialist, to lead a team of professionals who will work with North Dakota manufacturers and producers of value-added foods to overcome production capacity issues that limit exports.
Seifert, a CPA with extensive experience in international business development, will work with exporters, other Trade Office staff and members of a Resource Management Group that will include the Dakota Manufacturing Extension Partnership, licensed custom brokers, contract manufacturers, investment banks and private equity organizations and North Dakota colleges and universities.
Seifert and members of the Resource Management Group will help exporters identify and assess production challenges and develop strategies and timelines to expand export sales. Many exporters of agricultural machinery and value-added foods report they are unable to meet global demand. Production limitations include worker shortages, access to capital and transportation logistics. All businesses are unique and face their own challenges, but strategies to expand export sales will include plant automation analysis, developing improved transportation plans, identifying qualified suppliers for auxiliary components and providing options for capital investment.
“Many of our exporters face a variety of capacity issues and finding enough skilled workers is the most common challenge,” Trade Office Executive Director Susan Geib said. “Some of our machinery manufacturers tell us that their overseas customers are waiting as much as one year to take delivery on orders.”
“It is our goal to help these businesses find and implement efficiencies that can help them take greater advantage of their international business opportunities,” Geib said.
The U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration has awarded the North Dakota Trade Office a $334,812 matching grant to develop and direct the Resource Management Group.
“The Resource Management Group is an innovative way to help manufacturers overcome capacity constraints that stifle growth,” said Bill Owens, chairman and CEO of AEA Holdings Asia, a private equity, and real estate investment firm.
“North Dakota has a robust economy and a strong manufacturing sector,” said Owens, a North Dakota native and former vice chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff. Owens, state officials, state business leaders and other representatives of finance and investment firms will attend a Trade Office meeting Wednesday in an effort to provide export companies with more options for business capital.
Mike Seifert will begin his work at the Trade Office Wednesday, Oct. 15.
A Dickinson, N.D. native, Seifert has managed the financial services groups for UNISYS Corp., a Fortune 200 company and Morrison Knudsen (now Washington Group), a Fortune 500 company. For 10 years, Seifert worked for Bobcat, North Dakota’s largest export company. At Bobcat, Seifert served as director of global business development and controller of global operations. Most recently, he has played a key role in directing the development and funding of Northern Prairie Specialty Oils, LLC, a canola oil extraction and refining facility to be built in Cavalier County. Seifert has extensive experience in strategic planning, global finance, acquisitions and divestures and business process engineering.
“I am excited to join the Trade Office team which has a proven track record of assisting business growth in a global setting,” Seifert said. “I look forward to facilitating the continued growth of businesses that play an important role in North Dakota’s economy.”