Santiago Estrada, is the International Account Executive at Warco Products Incorporated. Santiago has participated in the 2014 International Trade Small Business Management program and has taken the CGBP Exam Prep Training course.
Santiago, if you could tell us a little bit about yourself, and what brought you here today.
I started participating in the SBDC with Tammy Marquez a couple years ago by taking a class on exporting. I've been with the company for over 3 years and we're in the motor manufacture of oil or the additives business; exporting through Mexico, Central America, South America, the Middle East and parts of Africa.
Tell us a bit about why exporting is important to your company.
Well number one, our company needs to find businesses outside the United States because the market is really ample elsewhere. Let's say 90% or 95% of the business is outside the United States. Motor oil is one of the most competitive industries in the world and you’re competing against brands that are well established. Our product competes in quality and prices with the top 5 producers in the world. The prices of oil or crude have also dropped and that's affecting every business.
What countries are you currently exporting to?
There's quite a few countries that we export to: Central America, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Bolivia, Paraguay, Chile, countries in the Middle East and Asia.
Is planning necessary? How important is an export plan, and if it is important how do you do it? Did your company have an export plan right away? Was it important to have that out there before you went global?
It is extremely important to plan and there are quite a few steps you have to follow. Number one is asking what type of product you are trying to sell or export, and what type of buyer or costumer you're trying to find out there. By asking these important questions you can know exactly who your competition is. They might change on trade barriers from one to the next so planning is very important. If you don't plan, you're going to find yourself with costumers that don't like your product or they might not pay you- and bottom line is selling is getting paid.
What would you say is one of the biggest challenges that you did not expect for your business, and how did you overcome it?
In my type of business if you're not prepared, you’re going to be spending a lot of money selling to one particular market that is restricted to only that area. You have to make sure that what you're going to invest (because it's going to take time) is going to satisfy their needs, and it's going to make money in the end.