Andrew Watson, Executive Director, Efic
A new financial year is an opportunity for new beginnings for small businesses. This could involve exploring a new source of revenue, a new growth channel or a new market.
For manufacturers, international markets offer a number of exciting opportunities for growth across a range of industries. Export is an opportunity to penetrate new markets, magnify the scale of your business operations and gain global exposure for high quality Australian products and services.
In the course of my job, I work with many Australian manufacturers that are achieving success overseas, and it’s inspiring to see. Whether your business is in wine, food, engineering, healthcare or fashion, export can be the chance to take your domestic business to the next level.
Many manufacturing businesses are navigating these challenges and achieving great success overseas. One such company is Jet Engineering, an Australian business that specialises in the design, manufacture and installation of custom-built machinery for the mining and construction industries.
“Our flagship product is our hydraulic tyre handler, which we developed for the Australian underground coal mining sector,” explains co-founder Shayne Ritchings.
Recently, Jet Engineering won a large export contract for a modified version of its hydraulic tyre handler, which will be installed in an underground platinum mine in South Africa.
“We’d done a little bit of exporting, having previously sent a crane to a mine in Papua New Guinea a few years ago,” said Shayne, “however this was nowhere near the scale of this South African project.”
“The contract is for just the one attachment initially, and a critical spares kit for repairs,” said Shayne, “with possibly a second one down the track.”
“Off the back of that, we’re now talking to a mine in Mongolia about the same tyre handler product as well, and we’re currently looking at ways that we can customise it to suit their requirements too.”
Like many specialist manufacturers that export, there was going to be a long lead time – up to 60 days from the delivery date – before Jet Engineering would receive payment for its product.
Succeeding in export requires careful planning, building the right relationships and accessing finance to fund growth. For many small businesses, identifying demand and finding the export opportunities is the easy part, but managing the financial side of export can be a challenge.
Meeting an export contract may require specific financial requirements, such as a bond or guarantee, or access to finance to fund production or support cashflow until payment is received from customers overseas. Doing business in a different currency can also throw up specific challenges.
Jet Engineering turned to Efic for finance assistance in the form of a Small Business Export Loan.
“It was just a little over two weeks from when we applied, to when we had the funds in our account. For an export transaction like this, that sort of speed from a traditional bank simply doesn’t happen.”
Access to finance quickly enabled Jet Engineering to fulfil the contract, and then move on to explore other export opportunities.
“By being willing to adapt and look outside our core market, we’ve found a number of new industries in Australia to target,” says Shayne, “however, it’s exporting that’s opened up a whole range of exciting new opportunities for us to consider.”
Like Jet Engineering, there are many opportunities for Australian manufacturers overseas for those willing to think strategically and seek out new markets and channels for growth.