Dr Jeff Cornwall

“My Name is Jim”

ENTREPRENEURIAL PROFILE: Jim Greene: Richland, LLC

Richland, LLC , located in Pulaski, Tennessee, is an industrial service company that supplies, assembles, fabricates, installs, paints, sandblasts and tests equipment that involves mechanical or electrical components.

Richland has contracts with TSKE Tsukishima Kankyo Engineering Ltd., a Japanese company, and Moritani, a German company.  Tsukishima Kankyo and Moritani engage in many joint projects around the globe. Richland partnered with the two companies in a wastewater project for a client in Dubai that was developing a recreation area and golf course for a multinational community in Dubai.  Richland provided manufacturing and test assembly for the water and wastewater treatment equipment that was shipped to Dubai.

Jim Greene, a partner and president of Richland, LLC, admits that the language barrier can be difficult when dealing with partners from two different countries working for a client in another part of the world.  “Foreign nationals appreciate it when you attempt to learn their language,” says Green, “Even if it is only ‘My name is Jim and welcome to Richland, LLC.’”[i]


[i] Jim Greene, personal communication, May 22, 2014.

Global Expansion Leads to New Product Ideas

ENTREPRENEURIAL PROFILE: Wood Stone Ovens

Wood Stone Ovens, based in Bellingham, Washington, sells its restaurant cooking equipment to customers in more than 75 countries.

The company realized an unexpected benefit from its international sales activities.  As its sales team traveled to meet with customers around the globe, they came back with many new product ideas.

Exports account for 25 percent of Wood Stone Ovens annual revenues.[i]



[i] “Our Company,” Wood Stone Ovens, n.d., http://woodstone-corp.com/about/our-company; “Wood Stone Ovens,” Export Washingon, 2012, www.exportwashington.com/why-export/success-stories/Wood-Stone-Ovens/Pages/default.aspx.

Cultural Strategy Key in Global Sourcing

ENTREPRENEURIAL PROFILE: Nuvar

Nuvar Incorporated, located in Holland, Michigan, develops and designs office furniture and healthcare products.  Nuvar’s in-house engineering assists its customers with product development and design.

Through a global network of manufacturing suppliers, Nuvar sources component part manufacturing.  Nuvar sources from Europe (France, Germany, and Italy), Asia (China, Taiwan, and Malaysia) and North America (Mexico and Canada).  Parts are then shipped to their facilities in Michigan, where they are assembled, packaged and shipped to the final customer.

Nuvar Assembly

(Nuvar Assembly Plant)

Although Nuvar does not ship to international cutomers, its customers ship around the globe.  “We still deal with the repercussions of dealing internationally,” says Scott Kuyper, International Supply Chain Lead at Nuvar.  “Different markets may have different requirements for testing, standards, etc. Since we’re involved with product development, we really see this first hand.”

With the breadth of international relationships, Nuvar has learned the importance of being open minded and flexible when it comes to differences in culture strategy and economies of their various global partners.[i]


[i] Scott Kuyper, personal communication, May 21, 2014.

Small Tech Company Finds Global Markets

ENTREPRENEURIAL PROFILE: William Haynes: Sabai Technology

After William Haynes was laid off during the financial crisis, he started Sabai Technology, a company based in Simpsonville, South Carolina, that develops and sells wireless routers and network equipment, with himself as the sole employee.

Initially, Haynes sold only to domestic customers until one of his customers, Strong VPN, opened the door to orders from companies in China. International sales took off after people involved in an Egyptian uprising discovered that Sabai Technology’s wireless routers could send and receive information that was blocked by government filters.

Haynes began working with the U.S. Commercial Service and U.S. Export Assistance Centers, which led him to advertise his products in Commercial News USA, a publication that goes to more than 400,000 readers in 178 countries.

Today, international sales account for 80 percent of Sabai Technology’s sales, and the company, which exports to 120 countries, has grown to 14 employees. Haynes uses superior customer service and speedy delivery to set his company apart from the competition, most of which are much larger businesses.[i]



[i] Jenny Munro, “World Beats Path to Powers’ Door,” Greenville News, January 18, 2009, p. 1E; “Sabai Technolocy,” CNN iReport, September 30, 2013, http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1041791.

Alternative Financing for International Sales

ENTREPRENEURIAL PROFILE: Lisa Howlett: Auburn Leather Company

Auburn Leather Company, located in Auburn, Kentucky, manufacturers leather laces for footwear and sporting equipment.

Auburn Leather expanded its international sales with the help of a small business insurance policy received from Ex-Im Bank assigns and insures Auburn Leather’s export accounts receivable.  This insurance gives lenders the confidence to provide working capital financing.

Growth in international sales created more than 30 new jobs at Auburn Leather and increased its annual revenues from $7.4 million to more than $11 million. Export sales have grown from 33% of total sales to 45%.  Auburn Leather’s President, Lisa Howlett, says that this growth has created 20 new jobs at her company.[i]



[i] “Kentucky Lace Company Boosts Sales and Increases Workforce with Ex-Im Bank Financing,” Export-Import Bank of the United States, n.d., www.exim.gov/about/whatwedo/successstories/Auburn-Leather-Company.cfm.

My Thoughts on the State of the Main Street Economy

I had the opportunity to sit down for an interview with the folks that blog at Insurance 321.  I shared my continued concerns about the recession plaguing Main Street and small business owners:

Small business owners and entrepreneurs face an endless stream of challenges, and one of the biggest that’s been nagging them since 2008 is the weak economy, says Dr. Jeff Cornwall, Jack C. Massey Chair and Professor of Entrepreneurship, Belmont University.

You can read the entire interview here.

An Alternative to the Uncertainty of Outcoursing

ENTREPRENEURIAL PROFILE: Peter Marcum: DevDigital

DevDigital has offices in Nashville, Tennessee and Baroda, India.  DevDigital began as company that bought used Internet network assets, such as routers and switches, from distressed companies at a steep discount.  The company would refurbish this hardware and resell it to small independent network companies.

Eventually the company moved into the actual operation of digital networks.  As profit margins for network operators became razor thin, the company made another major strategic shift.

devdigital india team

(DevDigital’s India team)

DevDigital purchased a small Web site programming shop in India that was being sold by one of their customers.  “My theory was that the larger companies, Google, IBM, and Apple were and had been diversifying globally in their software production,” says Peter Marcum, co-founder of DevDigital. “The problem for a smaller US based operation, is who do you call, or trust, or where do you go to get started, in an overseas location?”

DevDigital made the move into Web site development for smaller companies.  It took about four years to fully integrate the two locations.  Due to its cost advantage and stable employment, the company has been able to grow in the highly competitive market of Web site development.

DevDigital does about 80 percent work for hire and 20 percent projects in which they take equity in exchange for Web site development.  “My strongest advice to anyone wanting to set up off shore is find a local way in,” says Marcum. “By that I mean you need a core group that will stay long-term as you build a team, just as you would here in the US.”[i]


[i] Peter Marcum, personal communication, May 23, 2014.

Company Looks Globally to Smooth Out Seasonality

ENTREPRENEURIAL PROFILE: Dr. Roy Archambault: DryCorp

DryCorp, located in Willmington, North Carolina, manufactures products that help waterproof other products.  DryCorp, which was founded by Dr. Roy Archambault, developed its first line of products to waterproof casts, bandages, ostomies, and prosthetics using a rubber sleeve.  The product allows patients to swim, bathe, shower, and to receive hydrotherapy without any damage to the medical product protected by the sleeve.

DryCorp also is developing a line of products that are crystal clear bags that vacuum seal electronic devices while still allowing them to be fully functional.  Products include cases for tablets, earphones and backpacks.

Since DryCorp’s products are highly seasonal, its distributors focused on markets such as Australia that have opposite seasons to the U.S.[i]



[i] “DryCorp/DryCase,” Small Business and Technology Development Center, n.d., www.sbtdc.org/programs/export/success-stories/drycorp-drycase/.