Communicating at odd hours with distributors, buyers and retailers in Asia, Europe and elsewhere around the world is an accepted part of international trade for Ventura County firms.
But traveling to the Commerce Department office in Long Beach for help in exporting can be an inconvenience.
That should no longer be a concern with the recent opening of a regional Export Assistance Center in Oxnard. The Commerce Department program, which opened in October and was officially unveiled last week, is one of a network of offices designed to help U.S. companies establish themselves in the foreign marketplace.
Located at the Oxnard Harbor District next to the California Central Coast World Trade Center, the one-person operation will work with agricultural, manufacturing, service and other export businesses in Ventura, Santa Barbara, Kern and San Luis Obispo counties.
"We opened the office in Oxnard to bring our programs closer to local exporters," said Jerry Vaughn, the international trade specialist operating the assistance center. "There is a very large number of exporting companies in this area and we will be better equipped to react to their needs now."
Through the District Export Assistance Center in Long Beach, the Commerce Department worked with about 180 businesses from the four-county area, nearly one-third of those from Ventura County, Vaughn said. Since opening in Oxnard, the office has established ties with 10 additional businesses in the region.
"We can provide companies with services and programs to help them to locate markets overseas, to find the buyers, the distributors, the importers," Vaughn said. "We can help American companies to participate more fairly with companies in [foreign] markets by talking to those governments and giving them a good word about our companies."
By way of the Oxnard office, local businesses will have access to a network of trade specialists in 120 Commerce Department offices internationally and 70 in the United States.
The Oxnard office, Vaughn said, will cater primarily to business owners who have some previous export experience. The lack of staff, he said, prohibits teaching the basics of international trade one-on-one.
But Vaughn said he plans to increase awareness of export opportunities through seminars and by working with Ventura County trade organizations, including the World Trade Center, the Center for International Trade and the Export Small Business Development Center.
"We all have complementary expertise," he said.
The Commerce Department and the World Trade Center recently combined their efforts to help a local apparel manufacturer expand into 15 international markets.
"The World Trade Center offered strategic planning for international expansion and some specific research on various countries they were interested in," said Jana Goldsworthy, a senior trade consultant and former executive director of the World Trade Center in Oxnard. "The Department of Commerce also offered consulting, specifically as far as what trade shows to participate in internationally."
Goldsworthy, who headed the trade center from 1992 to 1994, said the opening of the Export Assistance Center locally should strengthen the partnership between the two organizations.
"We've worked together for a long time, but we will see a more efficient communication because, literally, the client will be coming to the same office for both of us," Goldsworthy said. "I think we will see a lot more activity through the office which will help raise community awareness."