N.H. businesses pleased with Turkey trade mission

<b>Seven businesses traveled with Governor Hassan to initiate relationships within the state’s 12th largest trade partner</b>

By Liisa Rajala
<i>New Hampshire Business Review</i>, June 30, 2014

Gov. Hassan speaking at the Istanbul-New Hampshire Business Summit on June 23
Gov. Hassan speaking at the Istanbul-New Hampshire Business Summit on June 23 N.H. Department of Resources and Economic Development

Returning to work after a weeklong trade mission to Turkey, New Hampshire businesses are beaming with the new leads they had found.

Representatives from seven businesses in the state traveled to Istanbul and Ankara with Governor Maggie Hassan, Department of Resources and Economic Development Commissioner Jeffrey Rose and other trade delegates. The trip generated substantial controversy since it was carried out after Hassan’s executive order to freeze all out-of-state travel paid for by the general fund.

All of the businesses had some level of prior exporting experience. Each representative contributed $2,500 and paid his or her airfare and other costs while abroad. Within three days or so, they conducted matchmaking meetings with over 100 businesses in Turkey.

“Not only did we have initial discussions, but a number of those companies asked me directly for proposals I’m starting to work on now,” said Janet Kwiatkowski, president of MAE Consulting, a domestic and international regulatory firm based in Deerfield.

Kwiatkowski said she met with about 20 companies in the medical device, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology fields. She found the most success in Ankara, where the tech clusters reside.

“A lot of the companies are looking to gain access to the U.S., which I can help. And I also represented my clients that want access to Turkey and the region. I’ll be following up with distributors and other service providers that can help my U.S. clients gain access,” said Kwiatkowski.

In addition to MAE Consulting, three other professional service and regulatory assistance firms attended the trip: Demers & Blaisdell in Concord, Ulysses Advisory Group in East Kingston and Hinckley Allen, a law firm in Concord.

The rest of the group sought to sell their products to companies in Turkey, including motorcycle manufacturer Rokon of Rochester, Comptus of Thornton and Conductive Compounds of Hudson.

Comptus, a commercial and industrial environmental sensors firm, sees promising growth in Turkey.

“We actually ran into one fellow who had run our sensors ten years ago and was out of the country up until three weeks ago [when he got back from living in Holland],” said Comptus President Andrew White.  “He said he knows our products intimately and will do more market research [for us].”

“[There’s] definitely strong interest and market knowledge about the products we carry, but to be honest this is a new market entering into the central Asia region so we don’t expect an order tomorrow,” White explained. “It takes time to develop the relationships and be fully prepared.”

Bella Okyar, a financial controller with Conductive Compounds – a developer and manufacturer of materials for electronics – is from Turkey, but still felt the trip gave her a boost she wouldn’t have received otherwise.

“I’m familiar with the culture and the area but it doesn’t mean I can get the connection with the companies because it’s not easy to get the companies’ attention to look at our products,” Okyar said. “I tried in the past, and filled out forms, but I never heard back. So this trip helped me get in touch with the companies we would like to work with.”

She said she met with a home appliance manufacturer, windshield manufacturer for Mercedes and Ostim Defence and Aviation Clustering Association, an umbrella organization for defense manufacturers.

She plans to touch base with emails and conference calls to see how relations improve and whether they produce business contracts. She described this trip as the initial introduction.

“[For] some companies it’s easy to get the relationship over email, but some companies want to meet face to face a couple of times.”


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