Imagine that you are an entrepreneurial small business presented with major growth opportunities in new, but unfamiliar, international markets. With little or no exporting experience, where should you turn for guidance and to learn what you need to know to be successful? For biodecontamination equipment manufacturer CURIS System and Jeff Woodson, its vice president, revenue operations, the answer was and is the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) and its International Trade Services Program.
CURIS System, headquartered in Oviedo, FL, is a manufacturer and provider of biodecontamination equipment and solutions. “Our mission is to make biodecontamination safer and easier for pharmaceutical manufacturers, research laboratories, and health care providers,” Woodson explains, “so they can focus on their lifesaving and life-enhancing work without disruption from contamination by high concentration, high consequences chemicals.”
“There are a few things that makes CURIS really standout,” continues Woodson. “The first is the safety and ease of use of our product. Our patented technology allows us to achieve the same level of kill as the high concentration, high consequences chemicals while only using a 7% hydrogen peroxide solution. The other aspect that customers are happy with is the level of support and training that they receive from our team.”
Having built a successful business in the U.S., word spread throughout the biosafety and biosecurity world that CURIS provides a safe and effective solution for biodecontamination challenges. The company was soon approached by numerous different overseas customers and dealers asking CURIS to begin exporting to their countries. Fortunately, Enterprise Florida and the Florida SBDC Network, in partnership with the U.S. Commercial Service, offer a scholarship to assist qualified Floridian “new-to-export” manufacturers and service providers with identifying overseas growth strategies through the development of a customized Export Marketing Plan.
“Exporting was brand new to us,” Woodson recalls. “We did not know how to do it and did not have that expertise in house.” It was why the firm turned to the FSBDC and Jill McLaughlin, its International Trade program manager, for assistance. “Being able to connect with the FSBDC and take advantage of the Export Marketing Plan and the consulting services they offer was a huge help in getting us where we needed to be to export,” Woodson states today.
CURIS also took advantage of the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP), funded by the Florida SBDC Network which had received a grant from the SBA to assist small businesses with export development. Through awards to eligible businesses, the STEP program helps small businesses overcome obstacles to exporting by providing grants to cover costs associated with entering and expanding into international markets. “It helped us cover the travel and lodging costs to get over there and be able to meet with clients and steward our product and support so that they were very happy with the installation and implementation of the product,” shares Woodson.
“The Export Marketing Plan was extremely helpful. As we have grown and expanded around the world, being able to rely on the FSBDC and the resources they have been able to connect us with has been absolutely critical to us being able to successfully grow, especially abroad, but also domestically,” affirms Woodson. “Since connecting with the FSBDC, our export volume has increased by 400% and we’re expecting to grow even faster from there. We’ve been extremely lucky to have the support of the FSBDC. For any entrepreneur, I would highly recommend reaching out to them for the breadth of their services, their support, and the knowledge that they can provide.”
For information about CURIS System, please visit https://www.curissystem.com/ .