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Saturday, September 22, 2012

NH small firms to get more help exporting

NASHUA – Even small firms that send products overseas can find the export business daunting. Just ask Axenics.

“We have shipped some of our units to Israel, to France and other countries,” said Chris Coutis, vice president of the Nashua-based contract manufacturer, which makes specialty equipment for use in various tech industries. ...

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NASHUA – Even small firms that send products overseas can find the export business daunting. Just ask Axenics.

“We have shipped some of our units to Israel, to France and other countries,” said Chris Coutis, vice president of the Nashua-based contract manufacturer, which makes specialty equipment for use in various tech industries.

Those shipments, however, were made through customers who bought Axenics equipment and rebranded it as part of a final product.

The 45-employee company, which works in steel, Teflon and thermal-bonded plastics, has made only one official foreign trip seeking customers, to Montreal.

“We are still learning how to do it, trying to get involved with that,” Coutis said.

This is exactly why the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development is touting a roughly $300,000 State Trade and Export Promotion grant that New Hampshire has received.

The STEP initiative provides money to states to help small businesses that are interested in exporting their products.

Exports support about one-quarter of New Hampshire’s manufacturing jobs, according to the National Association of Manufacturers.

The money is used for such things as trade shows and training programs, said Christopher Way, interim director for the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development.

This is the second year the state has received the grant. This year, the program will include subgrants given directly to companies.

“They could use it for travel, marketing, redesigning promotions, ” Way said.

STEP grants are given in all 50 states, and Way said such subgrants have proved successful elsewhere.

A 2009 survey indicated that small businesses made up 88 percent of the state’s 2,264 exporters, although the average business was small, averaging $813,000 in exports per firm.

The grant is to be announced Monday in a ceremony at Axenics’ facility just off Amherst Street, on Townsend West. The firm has been in Nashua since 2000.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and the regional director of the Small Business Administration are scheduled to be present at the ceremony.

David Brooks can be reached at 594-6531 or dbrooks@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Brooks’ blog on Twitter (@GraniteGeek).