Chad Pearson is the Director of Business Development for Plexxis Software – a company that develops integrated business management software for the construction industry.
1. What was your first export sale?
Tarlton and Son Inc. on the West Coast and a small East Coast customer. They came at the exact same time. We were looking for customers in each of the five regions in the U.S. and these two came on immediately after we joined the Association for the Wall and Ceiling Industry.
2. How did that first export opportunity arise?
U.S. companies started approaching us after we became members of the Association for the Wall and Ceiling Industry.
3. When it comes to exports, what do you know now that you wish you knew then?
That’s easy: having the knowledge pertaining to the U.S. federal, state and county regions. Our platform enables us to adapt to anything, it really is our biggest competitive advantage, but if we had the regulatory knowledge prior to entering the U.S., we would probably have double the success that we do now. There was that learning curve. It was a painful learning curve and an important one. We were fortunate that we had customers who believed in our product enough to have patience with us. Had we had that knowledge beforehand, we’d be miles ahead of where we are now.
4. How has the trading world changed since you started in business?
When we first started, there was a huge resistance to technology right out of the gate, so we were trying to convince people that technology was important and they had to embrace it. What happened was that those companies that resisted technology started to lose significant market share because their customers found them too difficult to work with. The fear of losing business got the industry to overcome the fear of change and technology, so now the challenge is educating the industry about how to eliminate segregated systems.
5. What is the No. 1 thing new SMEs need to know about export and trade?
It’s got to be knowing the regulations. If you don’t have that knowledge, it could end up significantly depleting your resources to course-correct. We got our knowledge through the customers who were willing to work with us and educate us, but we were lucky in that regard. It is worth the investment to get that knowledge, so an agent in the U.S. market you’re looking at is a good idea.