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Monday, Sep 25, 2023


WADE DANIELS Staff Reporter Glendale-based Ahmpac Laboratories Inc. closed its first sale to Mexico this month, opening a pipeline that will send $3 million worth of food flavorings, baby food and other food products manufactured by the company to a grocery distributor there. The sale, which nearly matches the company’s entire revenue for 1997, would not have been possible were it not for a program through the city of Glendale aimed at helping hometown companies break into the international marketplace, said Ahmpac President Mushtaq Ahmed. “If you want to export, believe me it’s not as simple as it looks,” Ahmed said. “From helping us find the right customers to showing us how to find a reliable way to receive payment, the center was an incredible help.” In operation for the past two years, the Glendale International Trade Development Center is run by the city’s Department of Development Services in partnership with the World Trade Center Association of Los Angeles and Long Beach. So far, the center has helped about 180 Glendale companies in the past year land nearly $600,000 worth of new overseas business, excluding Ahmpac’s recent deals, according to Vance Baugham, the association’s director of trade development and the trade manager for the Glendale program. That figure represents only first-time sales, so the actual revenue the center helped bring in from repeat business is likely much higher, he said. The center assists companies free of charge with things like finding potential overseas markets, zeroing in on likely customers and determining export prices. “A company may have mastered its domestic market and want to expand internationally, but very often they don’t know what steps to take,” said Phillip Lanzafame, Glendale’s economic development administrator. “Or a company already exporting may wish to enter other markets.” The program began in August 1996, and the city pays $10,000 a year to be a partner with the association. This gives Glendale businesses access to association consulting services that would otherwise cost each company about $2,500 a year. For starters, this means companies have the benefit of the association’s trade database, which is fed with market information from 318 World Trade Centers in 97 countries. “The Center used its database to find which countries would be good markets for us as well as some potential buyers, and gave us contact information for them,” said Ahmed. In addition to Ahmpac’s deal in Mexico, the center was also instrumental in the company’s new accounts in Peru and Brazil this year, said Ahmed. Sales of about $1.5 million are set to go through some time this month, he said. Companies interested in the center’s services first contact the city’s Department of Development Services, which then refers them to the association, whose 12-person staff helps the companies devise a strategy. Not all companies that come to the center are “trade-ready,” Baugham said. “One of the biggest barriers I come across is the willingness of companies to make a commitment to begin overseas trade,” Baugham said. “It involves time and money to develop new trade, and sometimes a company will be too busy with its domestic markets to expend the necessary effort.” Lanzafame said the center’s consulting services in building a business plan are free of charge to Glendale companies that are “trade-ready.” Often, after a plan is hammered out, the company is referred to government bodies such as the California Trade & Commerce Agency, where it can obtain capital to finance its new export business. The center charges fees if a Glendale company wants help in executing its business plan, such as with setting up meetings overseas or participating in trade missions organized by the association. Glendale’s Department of Development Services established the center in August 1996 as part of a city initiative to find new ways to bolster the local economy. “What we hope is that by starting or improving international sales, there will be a ripple effect,” Baugham said. “A company that is doing more international business will likely use a Glendale bank or accountant or a Glendale freight forwarder and so on, and expand local business.” Baugham said the city’s annual $10,000 payment does not cover all the costs for services the non-profit association provides to Glendale businesses. The association, which has a $1 million annual budget, absorbs some of the program’s costs with money it receives from some of its corporate members such as AT & T.;

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