Vermont Businesses Explore New Markets and Countries

Published 09/04 2014 06:48PM

Updated 09/04 2014 07:09PM

NORTH HYDE PARK, Vt. - Way Out Wax has been making candles, odor neutralizers and bug sprays for 22 years.

Enough time for their products to grow a little stale on customers according to sales director Beana Bern.

“A little tired of the same packaging and the same product offering,” Bern said.

Sales were dropping so they rebranded, focusing on their GMO free ingredients.

“That wasn't called out on our previous packaging,” Bern said.

Since the rebranding Bern says Way Out Wax has seen a 20 percent increase in their sales. Now they want to push their products to new markets like Scandinavia, the Caribbean, Japan, Singapore and even South America.

So they signed up for Exportech. It’s a $7500 boot camp that teaches Vermont business how to navigate the complexities of exporting internationally. Way Out Wax got in for free as part of a grant for businesses in northern Vermont counties.

Dick Morse serves as the coach for Way Out Wax. He’s the business development director at the Vermont Manufacturers Extension Center, one of the organizations that help guide small businesses.

Morse says some Vermont businesses are wary of searching for international customers.

“It’s a big unknown,” Morse said.

“There are lots of different countries with lots of different rules, regulations, and tariffs.”

Morse claims that Exportech can provide a road map to success. It operates in 29 different states and Morse says on average a company that joins makes an additional $700,000 in revenue from international sales in the first year. He admits there are strikeouts to go along with the homeruns but it takes a team of experts to help navigate it.

“There’s a million different attributes to be considered,” Morse said.

According to the census Vermont exported $4.026 billion worth of goods in 2013. That compares well with larger New Hampshire ($4.184 billion) and better than similarly sized states (Wyoming-$1.336 billion, North Dakota-$3.729 billion).

It’s still a drop of more than $200 million since 2010 though.

Almost 50 percent of Vermont’s export value is to Canada. It’s considered an easy target by Morse and he wants to see Vermont’s small businesses attempt to reach new markets.

“Because if there goods are popular in one country they could easily be popular in other countries,” Morse said.

Morse says one market that’s starting to gain traction in Vermont is Scandinavia. Like the rest of the US however, Vermont’s biggest export partners (after Canada) are Asian markets (China, Hong Kong and Malaysia round out the top 4).

Morse says some Vermont companies are becoming what he calls "Accidental Exporters." He says the internet is connecting consumers across the globe with Vermont products.

Bern says right now it's cost prohibitive for Way Out Wax to create dual language packaging which is a must in French-speaking Quebec. They’re turning to other countries where their new rebranding can work now.

“There's a lot of potential for what we're doing and a lot of love so we're optimistic,” Bern said.

Way Out Wax is holding an outdoor sale at Lost Nation Brewery in Morrisville Vermont Saturday, September, 6.

Copyright 2016 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.