Export Navigator: Expanding Markets for Kootenay Manufacturers

The Export Navigator pilot offers businesses access to community-based export specialists.

Michael Hoher, Export Advisor for the Kootenay Boundary, facilitates an workshop for West Kootenay manufacturers on November 29.

Michael Hoher, Export Advisor for the Kootenay Boundary, facilitates an workshop for West Kootenay manufacturers on November 29. — Photo courtesy Community Futures Central Kootenay

NELSON, BC – Snowskates, hats, wood products, honey candles, sourdough pasta, electronics, raw vegan chocolate – the common thread –  West Kootenay manufacturers with an interest in export. Of the seventeen attendees at the Export Navigator workshop last Thursday, several have been exporting for years and are looking to broaden their scope, while others are just beginning the process of trying to navigate the many legalities, fees and considerations involved in the export process.

Facilitated by Michael Hoher, the Export Advisor for the Kootenay Boundary region, the workshop laid out things to consider when looking to export including cultural differences, export codes as well as export services for those who were first getting into export or expanding into new markets.

“The export environment is cluttered with agencies, crown corporations, government entities, to name a few.” Said Hoher. “That makes the process much more complex, regardless of whether you’re skilled in export already and want to discover new markets or you want to export for the first time, because it’s hard to know where to start. That’s where I come in – as the Export Navigator Advisor, I work with you one-on-one to tackle all of these concerns.”

“This course is a good eye opener. It makes the venture into exporting less scary.” Said Richard Wolf of Pacific Insight. “By looking at the practical issues, we gain awareness of the hidden costs of exporting such as import duties, product liability and freight responsibilities.”

Liz Cohoe, designer and owner of Lillie & Cohoe, began exporting her unique hats in 1996. However, as part of a thriving business, she recognizes the importance of expanding her market. “Working with Michael and the Export Navigator program has been helpful for tidying up our existing export procedures,” Cohoe said. “It’s also interesting to discover new places to export to.”

Andrew da Silva of Raw Magic Chocolate who has been exporting within Canada, is interested in getting his unique product to the densely populated west coast of the United States – an area that is receptive to his health-conscious, raw food product. “I’m looking into what we have to do with the FDA – how do we register with them, what kind of labeling changes do we have to make, how much is this going to cost.” Said Da Silva. “I need some really specific questions answered, and I’m looking forward to some one-on-one time with Michael to try and figure a lot of these things out.”

During the workshop, Hoher acknowledged the difficulty of the export process. And with the current changes in several free trade agreements with Europe and within North America, there can be many aspects of the process that will need frequent review.

But the goal of this workshop is to encourage these intrepid business owners to persevere. “Anybody that has gone down the export chute grows in sophistication in leaps and bounds, “says Hoher. “Through the export process, they become a better business person, developing sound decision making and making invaluable connections.”

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