Doug Worswick with International Trade Consultant Jill McLaughlin

Certified Sling CEO Doug Worswick Named Small Business Exporter of the Year

Export Marketing Plan from FSBDC at UCF Adds to International Growth

May 1, 2015


Contact: Hal Thayer, Communications Director, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4850 or

Orlando – Doug Worswick, CEO of Certified Slings, Inc., had a balancing act to do: survive the “great recession” of 2009 while continuing the tradition and legacy from Doug’s Dad by applying his simple philosophy: “Be humble, take care of your team. Your team will take care of our customers and everything else will take care of itself.” Doug was determined to continue to provide quality service and the highest quality products with the team of employees who had helped him build the company.

Certified Slings is a distributor and manufacturer of slings, rigging, overhead lifting, load securement and contractor supplies. In all cases, safety is the highest priority. It counts as its customers the construction, mining, power utilities and theme park industries, as well as the U.S. military.

As he watched many of customers, competitors and partners go out of business during the recession, Doug jumped into action and looked for ways to weather the storm. By doing so, he found and was able to take advantage of the many resources available to businesses in Central Florida, including from the Florida SBDC at UCF.

While Doug used creative marketing and invested in product development to lead Certified Slings through the economic downturn, he also saw diversification into new international markets as a key component for growing the company. Certified Slings began exporting in the late 1990’s as an “accidental exporter” where customers found the company essentially through word of mouth.

Although the company had some success internationally, in 2009 Doug went on the offensive and began aggressively pursuing export sales. Despite the perceived risks presented by international markets, Doug invested in the export opportunity and hired a Director of International Sales. The company targeted Latin America and the Caribbean markets and, by uncovering opportunities, building relationships and establishing its brand, it generated positive momentum.

Momentum wasn’t enough for Doug, however, and in 2012 he turned to the FSBDC at UCF to help achieve even greater export success. The FSBDC, with support from Enterprise Florida, produced a customized Export Marketing Plan for Certified Slings that identified new markets, recommended marketing strategies and facilitated in-country contacts.

With the Export Marketing Plan in hand, Certified Slings had a game plan. Doug chose to expand his international team and focused them on effective market entry strategies based on the needs and characteristics of each market and each customer. Doug sought assistance from his FSBDC international trade consultant who, as Doug says, “guided them down the path.”

Today, Certified Slings has seen a 100% increase in its international business and has a strong foundation for the future. It has 110 team members providing quality service and quality products. And, on the strength of his leadership, business success and team-centered philosophy, Doug has been named Small Business Exporter of the Year for the North Florida District, State of Florida and Southeastern United States (Region IV) by the Small Business Administration.

When asked how the FSBDC has helped him, Doug said, “The FSBDC has been great from Day One. The Export Marketing Plan set the standard and now, as the journey continues, every time we have a question or hit a roadblock, they are there for us. The have been helpful, responsive and provided the resources we need. They have been just a tremendous support.”


About the FSBDC at UCF
With its main office in the National Entrepreneur Center located at the Fashion Square Mall in Orlando, the Florida SBDC at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) is part of the UCF Office of Research & Commercialization and the Florida SBDC Network (FSBDC Network). THE FSBDC at UCF provides business seminars and no-cost, one-on-one business consultation to emerging and established businesses. The FSBDC at UCF serves an eight-county area that includes Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia counties and maintains 10 service centers across Central Florida.

In 2013, the FSBDC at UCF served more than 7,200 entrepreneurs and small business owners through consulting and training, resulting in 7,507 Central Florida jobs created, retained or saved; $1.0 billion in sales growth; $51.5 million in capital formation; $87.7 million in government contract awards; and 129 new businesses started.

About the FSBDC Network
The FSBDC at UCF is a member of the Florida SBDC Network, a statewide service network funded in part through cooperative agreements with the U.S. Small Business Administration, Defense Logistics Agency, State of Florida and other private and public partners. The Florida SBDC Network is hosted by the University of West Florida and is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.

For over 35 years, the FSBDC Network has nourished a statewide partnership between higher education and economic development organizations, dedicated to providing emerging and established business owners with management and technical assistance, enabling overall growth and increased profitability for the businesses and economic prosperity for the state. The FSBDC Network is a statewide service system of 41 centers with 60 outreach locations, including the FSBDC at UCF.

In 2013, the Florida SBDCs served over 34,000 entrepreneurs and small business owners through consulting and training, resulting in 39,536 jobs created, retained and saved; $5.5 billion in sales growth; $197.3 million in capital accessed; $602.2 million in government contract awards; and 685 new businesses started. And, for every $1 of Florida public and private sector investment in FSBDC programing, $35 was returned to the state in tax revenue

FSBDC at UCF | 3201 E. Colonial Drive | Orlando, FL 32801 | p 407.420.4850 | f 407.420.4862 |