SOUTHINGTON, CONN. — The state of Connecticut is boosting a plan to help small plastics companies band together to build their export-related business.
Five plastics companies currently are exploring the options through a program run by Connecticut Technology Associates Inc. of Farmington, Conn., a nonprofit corporation providing technical and business support services to small and midsize businesses.
Sheldon Dolinger, vice president of program development for CTA, said the program still is in the exploratory stages. He would not identify the companies, but he said they are discussing common goals and ways to combine the sales costs. Dolinger took part in a forum at Plasti/Conn 98, held Oct. 29 in Southington.
Expanding to new markets was the theme of the export forum.
Dawn S. Rodriguez said the plastic cluster follows a similar consortium for six Connecticut-based metalworking companies.
``Six smaller companies could not attack the market [individually], but together they could,'' she said. Rodriguez is director for Latin America for the Connecticut Department of Economic & Community Development, Industry Cluster and International Division.
Rodriguez said the setup allows the companies to share the risks and costs of entering a new market.
Andrew J. Hammerl, president of International Business Services LLC of Stamford, Conn., suggested establishing contacts in the countries where you want to do business.
``Your customers have business overseas,'' he said. ``That's a great way to go international — follow your customers overseas.''
Peter W. Olson, an assistant professor of International Business at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at Hartford, Conn., said there is a lot of risk in international commerce, but there is plenty of help available.
``Benchmark what you know. Take what makes you successful in Connecticut and use it,'' he said.
Olson said research is imperative, and that both state and federal organizations can help.
``The United States has a lot of clout in setting up appointments for you [to discuss international trade ventures],'' he said.
He cited central Europe as a region with great potential. He noted that the Germans are investing heavily in the region and that many workers are being trained in Germany. Olson said that this arrangement offers skilled partners.
But he cautioned against shipping plastic products to regions where they can be manufactured cheaply.
``There is no value in transportation, it is a cost,'' he said.
Olson said it is possible to guard your franchise and still gain from exporting. He said that licensing older technologies and offering refurbished equipment are ways to gain royalties. He added that joint ventures with skilled partners also can help.