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Establishing an international distribution network

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Sinclair Equipment Co. of Diamond Springs, Calif., has established an international distribution network and most recently expanded into the southern Africa region—but not before spending several years looking for the right person or business to represent its products. Sinclair international sales manager Jamie Nute asked for referrals whenever he answered sales inquiries from South Africa.

“Having recently sold a keder fabrication system to a large tent maker in the Durban area, I was referred to a business that engineers and represents clearspan technology in Johannesburg,” Nute says. “They also distribute a reputable line of textiles specific for this application.”

This was the kind of connection Nute had been looking for, and after a basic verbal agreement to enter into a business arrangement, an individual from the South African company came to California for a four-day immersion in Sinclair Co.’s products.

“This four-day visit not only provided a good understanding of our products but also allowed time to learn about each other, both on a business and personal level,” he says.

Three weeks later, Nute flew to South Africa for product presentations with end users, providing the new distributor with more insight and training.

“In the end, I believe I was successful because there was a commitment and investment on both parties’ sides,” he says. “Visiting our facility and gaining extensive training is necessary, and experiencing the real life marketing, sales and delivery process in his country is appropriate as well. We both shared in these costs and came away with a good foundation as well as a great business relationship.”

Jill C. Lafferty is editor of InTents magazine.

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