Page 4: Exporting success - Genesis Tilemates
The 1998 Grand Champion Export Award Winner for Smaller Businesses states, 'Genesis Tilemates has a dedicated and thorough approach to developing new markets.'
Genesis Tilemates manufactures products for the construction industry that add a final touch to floors and walls. A range of over 400 profiles made from PVC and metals form the primary product line, finishing off edges, minimising damage and extending the life of tiled surfaces. The Stokesley company also manufactures skirting and matching dado rails, transition strips for joining tile to carpet or for use in doorways, stair nosing and expansion or compression joints for floors.
Export earnings represent nearly 70% of the company’s annual turnover with both exports and turnover increasing by around 50 per cent over the past two years. Excluding the Americas, Genesis is exporting over 50,000 metres of trim a day and continuing to expand with new growth in the United States, South America, Africa and Japan.
Aidan Bruce, the company’s Managing Director, explains how he first became an exporter:
'The company was launched in 1989. The following year, I bought space at an exhibition in Miami and showed my first products to potential clients. At that one show, I picked up orders from customers in seven countries on the other side of the Atlantic. “After repeating this initial success at a number of other shows, I quickly arrived at the inescapable and rather obvious conclusion that the ability to export hugely expands your potential client base. Naturally, there are a host of export issues that need to be addressed, but I know from experience that restricting yourself to the UK limits your potential growth.
'I’ve been exporting for eight years now and I’ve learned an enormous amount in that time. You need to be very professional in your approach and it is essential to build your knowledge and understanding of each individual export market. That means a great deal of hard work researching and visiting overseas countries but the potential rewards for smaller businesses can be amazing if you’re prepared to put in the effort to start with.
'Personal relationships are also important. We build a strong rapport with each of our distributors, operating a ‘sale or return’ system with our most trusted associates to help establish new product lines. This way they can promote products to their customers knowing that they can return any unsold stock to us without having to pay for it. This is only possible where there is a relationship of mutual trust.
'It is this flexible approach to business that has made us the leading manufacturer of finishing profiles world-wide. We would never have been able to export to 76 countries without it. Obviously the strength of sterling has affected us but our methods and strong international relationships have allowed us to work round it. For instance, we usually agree an exchange rate with our customers and then invoice in the local currency.
'We’ve been prepared to put in the effort to develop our presence in new markets. Our success in South Africa is due to our establishment of a local subsidiary company to tackle the market aggressively. Our competitors suffer because they haven’t been prepared to go the "extra mile" to establish their products.'
Mr Bruce summed up his views in a few words: 'Exporting is very hard work but it can be thoroughly rewarding if you approach it professionally.'