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Small Firms Get Help in Selling Goods Abroad

TIMES STAFF WRITER

After years of peddling soft drinks, laundry detergent and other consumer goods for major corporations, Bob Wallace decided two years ago to take his experience and strike out on his own.

Armed with a few thousand dollars and years of marketing savvy, the former Los Angeles marketing manager for Pepsico Inc. and Lever Bros. started an export management company to help others do what he does best: sell in the international market.

His goal is simple: “I’m giving the little Davids of this world a shot at the world market,” Wallace said. “I’m the scout sent out to reconnoiter for the advancing troops.”

Wallace, marketing director of Exports International Co. in Santa Ana, is among a growing pool of former international marketing managers who have left large corporations to work as export consultants for small and medium-size companies.

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“Most export managers have previous corporate experience and have an entrepreneurial spirit,” said Edward Chavez, president of Anaheim Marketing International, an export management firm in Anaheim. “And export management is one area that allows them to use this entrepreneurial characteristic to exploit their marketing abilities and knowledge of the international market.”

Demand for export assistance has increased as more small and medium-size companies--many with no prior experience in foreign markets--try to peddle their wares abroad, said Martin Magdaleno, president of Sel Pro International, an Anaheim export management firm. Also, many companies can’t afford to hire a full-time international marketing manager, he said.

“A lot of times, the local manufacturers have a great product but they don’t export because they don’t want to be bothered with the extra paper work and bureaucracy,” said Magdaleno, a former manager of Beckman Instruments international division.

Moreover, many U.S. companies are reluctant to take the time and effort to understand a foreign nation’s culture and trade practices--often a key to success abroad. And companies that are doing brisk business in the U.S. market are sometimes reluctant to spend money on a possibly risky overseas marketing program, said Patrick Killeen, marketing vice president for PEC International Trading Co. in San Marcos.

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