Seven North Dakota companies participating in a trade mission to Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine have successfully expanded their international sales during the first leg of their two-week trip, according to Lt. Gov. Jack Dalrymple, wo is accompanying them on the trade mission. Initial results include a major sales order for Wahpeton-based WCCO Belting and a distributorship for Titan Machinery of Fargo.
'Exploring trade in a part of the world with such great potential for agricultural and manufacturing growth has already yielded trade deals for some of our delegation, and we have good prospects for more,' Dalrymple said. 'All the while, we are establishing promising business relationships for the future with some of the most important buyers in the region.' The 18-member trade delegation, led by Dalrymple, spent five days in Astana, Kazakhstan, where they met with pre-qualified equipment buyers and distributors.
The delegation's six agricultural equipment companies also participated in Kazakhstan's AgroProdExpo, an international agricultural equipment show, and held meetings with high-level government officials. The North Dakota delegation left Kazakhstan Sunday and are meeting today with potential buyers and business partners in Moscow.
All members of the trade delegation reported making business contacts that they expect to result in export sales to Kazakhstan:
WCCO Belting, Inc., Wahpeton - Tom Shorma, president and CEO of WCCO Belting, Inc., Wahpeton, N.D., said he secured a major order to supply swather belts for a Kazakhstan manufacturing company. WCCO Belting is a leading manufacturer of specialized rubber belting for industrial and agricultural markets. Shorma said he has begun talks to supply a second Kazakhstan company that also manufactures swathers, used by farmers to cut and windrow mature crops for harvest.
'The trip's first phase has been very productive,' Shorma said. 'You can't do that without being here to build those relationships, getting to know their needs and learning the market.
Titan Machinery, Fargo: Officials from Titan Machinery, a seller of new and used CaseIH agricultural equipment, said the trade mission led them to a distributor slated to sell Titan equipment and parts throughout Kazakhstan. 'I believe we will be doing a lot of business in Kazakhstan,' said Darrel Gillespie, Titan's remarketing manger.
Gillespie and Olga Hall, Titan's manager of international sales, credited the North Dakota Trade Office and U.S. Commercial Service for arranging a meeting with the Kazakhstan equipment distributor. Gilliespie said the company currently sells agricultural equipment from 15 dealership locations throughout Kazakhstan.
'This was a very productive meeting for us because they have the established service facilities, service vehicles and trained personnel,' Gilliespie said. 'They are very financially sound and well structured. In addition, their marketing plan parallels ours so it's a very good fit for us.
In 2003, the U.S. Commercial Service introduced Titan Machinery to a Ukraine equipment distributor that continues to sell Titan machinery. 'It has been extremely good business for us,' Hall said.
Brandt Holdings Company, Fargo: Fargo-based Brandt is in talks to supply used, late-model farm equipment to a limited liability company that controls 128,000 tillable acres near Astana, said Roger Olson, senior vice president and operations manager at Fargo-based Brandt Holdings Company. Brandt Holdings is a privately owned company with 14 John Deere farm equipment dealerships in North Dakota, Minnesota and three other states.
Dalrymple, Brandt Holdings Used Equipment Manager Stacy Anthony and other members of the trade delegation toured parts of the large farm operated by a limited liability company and discussed the sale of used equipment with the farm's director.
They met in a 4,000-acre field about 40 miles north of Astana during the last day of wheat harvest. Also in the field were 17 combines, many of them built 40 years ago. Officials from the farming company agreed to visit North Dakota in November where they will visit Brandt Holdings and other agricultural equipment dealerships.
'We made a contact that was very, very strategic,' Anthony said. 'I believe it will produce dividends over and over.' Other highlights from the mission's first phase include:
- Mike Gates, president of Gates Manufacturing Inc., Lansford, N.D., reported that he will forward six bids to sell his company's field harrows.
Gates said he has also begun negotiations with a potential business partner to manufacture Gates harrows and market them throughout Kazakhstan.
- Mark Hatloy, sales representative for Sund Manufacturing Company Inc., Newburg, N.D., said the trade mission helped him develop 10 solid leads to sell Sund's combine headers and grain handling equipment. 'I am thoroughly convinced that we will be doing some business here,' Hatloy said.
- Chris Harris, director of international sales for Jamestown-based Duratech Industries, said he is in talks to supply Astana Finance with Duratech's livestock feed grinders and haying equipment. Astana Finance purchases large amounts of farm equipment - previous orders valued at no less than $20 million - and then leases the equipment to Kazakhstan farmers.
The trade delegation arrived late Sunday in Moscow where they will attend individual business meetings Monday and Tuesday. The group will then travel to Kiev, Ukraine where they will spend two days with pre-qualified buyers and distributors, U.S. Commercial Service officials and tour a Ukrainian equipment dealership.
Market Background: Kazakhstan is North Dakota's eighth largest export market, with machinery representing all of the state's export sales.
Kazakhstan's imports of North Dakota machinery have increased in value from $22,000 in 2000 to nearly $25 million last year. Oil-rich Kazakhstan is working to further develop its agricultural industry.
In 2005, the government allocated $35 million to help farmers purchase farm equipment and another $20 million for food processing equipment.