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Middle Eastern cold calling pays off

FOR Perth-based white board manufacturer Hans Fruh, a decision to visit the Middle East and try his hand with cold calls to office and school equipment suppliers listed in the local ‘yellow pages’ has paid off handsomely.

His company, Welshpool-based Vista Visuals Australia, now enjoys regular sales of its white boards and accessories in several Middle Eastern markets – including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait – and this month will ship a full container of white boards, its second shipment since December, to the Ministry of Education in Oman.

Vista Visuals Australia is also highly active in Europe where contact and transactions with office and school suppliers in Ireland, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom are administered by the company’s representative office in the northern English city of Preston.

The company, which has just announced a 1999 sales profit of $1.117 million, has also targeted the newly developing markets of Latvia and Romania which Mr Fruh said were beginning to show strong potential.

The company has also created a strong profile for its products at several key industry fairs and shows including the world’s biggest stationery-oriented trade event, Paper World EXPO, held annually in Frankfurt, Germany.

Mr Fruh said a major factor in the company’s overall business success had been its ability to access Australian Trade Commission support and, in particular, the Export Market Development Grant program.

“The support received from EMDG has enabled us to maintain our UK representation and also helped us to market our products using foreign language brochures,” Mr Fruh said.

“Austrade has also helped us research potential markets such as the Philippines and India,” he said.

Introduced in 1974, the EMDG scheme is the Federal Government’s principal export assistance program and has proven a catalyst in directly helping Australian businesses to overcome many of the difficulties experienced in financing export-linked promotional activities.

More than 3,000 exporters, including nearly 2,000 small businesses with a turnover of less than $5 million, received EMDG grants in 1998/99, generating nearly $5 billion in exports.

• Trevor de Carteret is Austrade’s Regional Trade Commissioner for WA.

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