Jamie Swallow is the President of Sulphur Experts – a Calgary-based engineering consulting company that recovers sulphur for the oil and gas industry.
You can learn more about their export success here.
1. What was your first export sale?
Our first export sale would have been with ExxonMobil in Baytown, Texas.
2. How did that first opportunity arise?
We took over the company from another company. When we did, we had a person based in Texas so he brought that deal with him.
3. When it comes to exports, what do you know now that you wish you’d known then?
I think we would have probably gotten receivables insurance a little bit sooner, although we’ve never had much issue with receivables. But given the way the current industry is, it would have been nice to have done it sooner.
4. How has the trading world changed since you started in business?
It’s a lot harder to do work internationally, especially in the U.S. and globally, because of security reasons. I think that’s the case in general, not just in our field. Everyone seems to be getting more protectionist, especially the Americans. Their companies are putting up several barriers to any companies that aren’t American. They do that, for example, by requiring us to have a U.S. social security number to get into a refinery. And it’s getting worse. That’s why we opened the office in Houston in 2008 — so we’d have employees who are Americans. The Amsterdam office was opened in 2010.
5. What is the #1 thing new SMEs need to know about export and trade?
They need to know that there’s lots of support in Canada. We’ve worked with EDC, the Business Development Bank of Canada, the Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) and the Trade Commissioner Service in different countries. You’ve got to take advantage of these things that are available. Receivables insurance through EDC used to be quite an expensive option. I think they’ve really changed their mandate and become a lot easier to work with. I would say I noticed it around 2010.