Roger Steeves is the President of Steeves Maples – a producer of natural maple syrup products from Elgin, New Brunswick.
1. What was your first export sale?
My first export sale was Steeves Pure Maple Syrup to New Zealand in 1990.
We introduced them to Steeves Maples “Original Canadian Maple Taste Syrup” by slipping in a couple of unmarked cases in with one of their orders. They love it and within seven months, they had completely shifted their order and now only buy our Original Canadian Maple product.
2. How did that first export opportunity arise?
I just called them. I explained who we were, described our products and innovation and my first order was for fifty cases. We were pretty happy about that.
3. When it comes to exports, what do you know now that you wish you knew then?
Our whole goal when comes to exporting is to get local distributers in the various countries we want to penetrate. Theses distributors know the culture and the needs of those people much better than someone halfway around the world. So, if I could change anything, it would be to have invested more into acquiring local distributors from the beginning.
4. How has the trading world changed since you began in business?
Technology has made it a lot easier for the world to connect.
5. What is the #1 thing new SMEs need to know about exporting and trade?
Whatever country you are looking to export to, you need to find a capable individual or company you can trust and who believes in your product and can represent you in those countries.
6. What do you do when you aren’t working?
Retirement is not in my vocabulary, but my wife and I take a few days off to escape and travel (looking for new markets). We also love to spend time with our family.