ARCHIVED  May 1, 1997

World Wide Weld

Greeley and Weld County have become exporting dynamos.

Just how dynamic? In 1993, county exports totaled $276 million, jumping to almost $502 million in 1994 and $583 million in 1995, according to a September 1996 report on metropolitan area exports by the International Trade Administration, Office of Trade and Economic Analysis.

The Greeley/Weld County market ranks seventh for export values in the Mountain Region, which includes Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. It ranks 105th in the nation for export values.

The six metro areas that outpace Greeley/Weld for export values in the Mountain Region are Phoenix-Mesa, Ariz.; Salt Lake City-Ogden, Utah; Boise City, Idaho; Denver; Colorado Springs; and Tucson, Ariz. Fort Collins-Loveland comes in eighth, with an export value of almost $374 million for 1995.

In the same report, Greeley/Weld is ranked fifth in the Mountain Region and 98th in the nation for a dollar change of more than $81 million from 1994-95. When looking at percent changes, this 16.2 percent change puts Greeley/Weld fifth in the Mountain Region and 132nd in the nation.

However, when ranked by 1993-95 percentage increase, Greeley/Weld tops the Mountain Region list at 111.2 percent. This figure puts Greeley/Weld 16th in the nation.

“That’s an incredible growth rate,´ said Laurel Alpert, deputy director of the International Trade Office in Denver. She said large exporters – Monfort Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Eastman Kodak Co.’s Kodak Colorado Division – account for a significant portion of the exports, but that growth in small to medium-sized companies also has had an impact.

Cathy Schulte, vice president of the Greeley/Weld Economic Development Action Partnership Inc., agreed that Weld County’s big three contributed to the increase but says companies that have recently located to Weld County have also had an impact.

Indeed, a number of factors are at work here:

n Colorado’s agricultural exports surged in 1995 to a record $1.157 billion. The largest increase was in wheat exports, followed by beef and livestock and beef products such as hides and animal fats – products produced largely in Greeley and Weld County.

n Recent trade agreements – The North American Free Trade Agreement and The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, for example – have opened larger markets for Greeley and Weld County, whose exports range from ag products such as beef and wheat to machinery to insulated wire to computer storage equipment.

n Greeley and Weld County’s largest exporters – Monfort, Hewlett-Packard and Kodak – have all increased sales to international markets.

n Many small businesses have found that international sales can mean the difference between success and failure.

In a survey of Greeley/Weld County’s primary producers prepared last year for Greeley/Weld EDAP by University of Northern Colorado economist Ann Garrison, respondents said international sales accounted for 12.88 percent of their sales. Canada and Mexico were the most important destinations for the products produced. The exporting companies sent 28.45 percent of their products to Canada and 20.69 percent to Mexico.

“No business reported more than 50 percent of their sales being in the international arena,” Garrison said.

Monfort of Colorado, a ConAgra Inc. subsidiary, accounts for the lion’s share of exports from Greeley. Mark Gustafson, senior vice president of sales and marketing, for ConAgra Refrigerated Foods International, said that since the 1992 GATT agreement, “our exports have gone up 200 percent.”

He estimated that Monfort/ConAgra companies shipped $300 million in beef and beef products overseas in 1996, with Japan and the Pacific Rim the predominant destination – 80 percent of the total – for Monfort beef. Japan has become a lucrative market for beef, Gustafson said, because the country – with 125 million consumers in an area slightly smaller than California – must rely increasingly on imports to feed its population.

Other destinations for Monfort beef products are Canada and Mexico. Gustafson estimated that last year the company shipped about $25 million in boxed beef to Canada and $20 million in boxed beef to Mexico.

To see how significant Japan is as a market, Gustafson said that in 1988, Monfort shipped 50,000 metric tons of beef to Japan. Today, the company ships 700,000 metric tons.

Japan is also a lucrative market for other agricultural products, said Tim Larson, a senior international market specialist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Japan is just ready to buy,” Larson said. “Beef has been a real highlight, and we see that expanding. But one of the big growth areas will be the whole organic area, including wheat products, fruits and vegetables, anything organic.”

Larson, who recently returned from a business trip to Japan, noted that imports there are helping to bring down the price of beef, making it competitively priced with fish, thereby increasing demand. Beef now averages $13 per pound, down from $21 per pound a few years ago. On sale, it can be as low as $8.50 per pound.

South Korea is the second-largest market for Colorado agricultural exports, Larson said, with wheat and beef heading the list of goods sent there.

“The big thing is hides,” Larson said. “They turn them into Nikes and send them back to us.”

International sales also help turn ag businesses – which tend to be seasonal – into year-round operations. Mike Atkinson, director of business development at Loveland Industries Inc., said 15 percent of its business is done overseas.

“The big advantage to exporting is, agriculture is a seasonal market, but we can go to other hemispheres and do business year-round,” he said. “It evens out our business.”

Trade agreements haven’t affected the business as much as mandates by several countries to reduce the amount of pesticides applied to fields. It just so happens that Loveland Industries produces ag crop-protection adjuvants that increase spread coverage and compatibility.

“The international market is more receptive to reduced rates (of pesticides) and using adjuvants to reduce rates,” Atkinson said.

Countries and regions to which Loveland Industries exports include Canada, Mexico, Central America, the Philippines, New Zealand, Australia, Chile, Germany, Spain and France. The Greeley-based company also produces mold inhibitors and feed additives, which it exports mostly to lesser-developed locations such as China and Taiwan.

Three years ago, Loveland Industries purchased a distributorship in the United Kingdom, where it now does business as Newman Agriculture Chemicals. The company also has a joint venture in France, where the business is called Agridyne.

Hewlett-Packard Co. in Greeley, which ships optical storage units and flatbed scanners, has realized a significant increase in international sales, said Mike Kelley, director of public relations for the Greeley plant.

Kelley said the biggest chunk of exports companywide – 62 percent – goes to European countries; 12.5 percent to Japan; 8.6 percent to Far East countries other than Japan; 5.6 percent to Latin America; 4.5 percent to Canada, and 2.8 percent to Australasia.

Kelley said it would be possible to extrapolate that the Greeley plant’s exports fall in line with corporate numbers. Products made in Greeley are in demand everywhere.

But perhaps one of the most interesting facets of the growing export market for Greeley-area businesses is how many small businesses are tapping into international sales.

Pam Bloskas, owner of Stone Creek Ltd., makes gifts and accessories for fly-fishing and began exporting about four years ago as a result of sales from the International Fly Tackle Dealer Trade Show in Denver.

“I write one or two orders out of the country from that show,” Bloskas said. She has two accounts in Japan to which she ships about $1,500 each, and about $500 in goods to Switzerland.

The extensive paperwork and costs to ship out of the United States, however, have been a roadblock to pursuing additional international markets for her goods. She figures that shipping alone adds about one-third to the cost of her items sold in Japan.

“I would like to pursue it more if I had the knowledge and the means to make sure I was doing it right,” she said of exporting.

And that’s where Russell Disberger comes in. As director of the Small Business Development Center in Greeley, he frequently works with small businesses that want to explore international sales. If they have a saleable product, Disberger said, he encourages his clients to become exporters, and he helps unscramble the path filled with tariffs and documentation.

He tells of a recent strategic planning meeting with a business owner whose sales were below expectations.

“We looked at different areas, and I asked if they were exporting. The same product they make is made in Japan, and it costs 10 times more than it does here. Just from today’s meeting, they’re looking at exporting almost immediately, and they plan to do it with their Web page, catalog and direct mail, because it’s difficult to penetrate the retail market in Japan.”

Another indicator of export activity in this area, Disberger said, is the appearance of consultants. “In the last six months, we’ve had one or two individuals looking to locate here to assist businesses with exports,” he said.

The bottom line, Disberger said, is if a business wants to be competitive, they would be naive not to look at overseas markets.

Greeley and Weld County have become exporting dynamos.

Just how dynamic? In 1993, county exports totaled $276 million, jumping to almost $502 million in 1994 and $583 million in 1995, according to a September 1996 report on metropolitan area exports by the International Trade Administration, Office of Trade and Economic Analysis.

The Greeley/Weld County market ranks seventh for export values in the Mountain Region, which includes Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. It ranks 105th in the nation for export values.

The six metro areas that outpace Greeley/Weld for export values in the Mountain Region are Phoenix-Mesa, Ariz.; Salt Lake City-Ogden,…

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