New regs hurt Nashua business

Bagpipe company losing market share

Staff photo by DAMIEN FISHER Gibson Bagpipes, handmade in the company’s Nashua location, can’t get to overseas customers thanks to new regulations.

NASHUA – New international regulations have halted international sales for a Nashua business, forcing the company to skip overseas orders.

“We lost our overseas market at this point,” said Rich Spaulding, operations manager at Gibson Bagpipes.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora rule that went into effect in January require businesses that export goods, listed by the convention, to be inspected at an official export station. The problem is, the only station for these inspections is at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

“I would have to drive to New York to ship a set of bagpipes to Montreal,” Spaulding said.

Gibson Bagpipes, with a manufacturing shop on Mason Street, happens to be the largest manufacturer of bagpipes in the United States. All of the pipes are handmade in the shop using African Blackwood, or specialty wood from Honduras and Costa Rica. These woods are listed by the convention as in need of conservation and require permits from businesses that use them for manufacturing.

Spaulding said Gibson has always sought the proper permits, and adheres to the convention. The company only buys wood from reputable dealers who harvest the timber sustainably.

“If we ship anywhere in the continental Unites States we don’t have any problems,” Spaulding said.

Under the new regulations, Gibson needs more permits to export the wood they were already permitted to import, and the finished product and permits must be inspected in New York.

On Wednesday, U.S. Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen, both New Hampshire Democrats, along with other senators, sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke urging them to add an inspection station in Boston, making it easier for New England businesses to sell overseas.

In the letter, the senators request all necessary adjustments be made for Boston’s port to “to allow for validation of CITES documents, and inspection of imports and exports of any products containing CITES-listed non-living plant materials.”

Spaulding said that a Boston inspection site wouldn’t be a total fix, but it would allow his company to re-enter the international market.