Saftronics started in South Africa in the early 1970вЂ™s making electronic factory automation equipment. By the end of the 70вЂ™s it was the largest company of its kind in South Africa. They then expanded to Canada in the late 70вЂ™s to access a larger market with about a 100 or more employees, they became the third largest company of its kind in Canada. Wanting to access North America Canada was the easiest to get in to. The original plan was to export from Canada to the U.S but they found that there were indirect obstacles to making successful marketing in the U.S, such as different manufacturing standards, culture, measuring practices.
In 1981 Saftronics established a finishing assembly plant in Buffalo New York and started to develop a U.S sales channel to carry the products from coast to coast. It grew rapidly and the company wanted to move south, choosing Fort Myers as the new location in 1986 with 24 people they stared building a serious business in North America reaching out to other parts of the U.S and the world. Late 1990вЂ™s the company expanded to over 260 employees and over $60 million dollars in sales with 7 locations in the U.S and sold products to several other export markets such as Central America, South America, Australia, South Africa and several European countries. In 2005 the company was bought by Emerson
Electric a fortune 100, who are a $15 billion a years organization with 150 thousand employees.
Wanting to develop a customer base in Central and South America because they felt they had a competitive advantage being based in Florida because this was a gateway to the Latin countries. Saftronics hired a dedicated Spanish speaking sales manager who had experience dealing in South America, he had to travel around and find appropriate customers. They attended trade shows to make contacts in the U.S and Latin America also printing all literature in Spanish because of the credit risks involved they had to find well to do companyвЂ™s, then on the support side put Spanish speaking people to take customer calls and put Spanish speaking, well trained people on the technical side. All this training took a lot of time and capital investment because all the people were brought and trained here in the states.
In addition they made a point of inviting customers up to Fort Myers for sales and product training seminars that were conducted in Spanish. Payments were another issue because of the currency exchange and the economy. The solution to that was only invoicing in U.S Dollars and also becoming familiar with local laws in these countries as not to make serious mistakes in contracts, since the laws were so different to U.S laws. Gradually over the years they would build
a service network and hire local service people who lived there and were trained in the factories, it was more beneficial to have the employees based in these Latina American countries with U.S based training to help customers with in a
shorter time rather than sending people from here to deal with issues so far away. Cost of training and