Spokane Exhibit Manufacturer Owner Named 2019 SBA Pacific Northwest Small Business Exporter of the Year

Spokane Exhibit Manufacturer Owner Named 2019 SBA Pacific Northwest Small Business Exporter of the Year
Release Date: 
Wednesday, April 10, 2019
Release Number: 
2019-04-10
Advisory Date: 
Wednesday, April 10, 2019
Contact: 
Lisa White | lisa.white@sba.gov | (206) 553-7050

SEATTLE – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 2019 Pacific Northwest Small Business Exporter of the Year is FLEXHIBIT in Spokane, Washington.  FLEXHIBIT was selected from winners in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. The regional winner is one of 10 finalists for the SBA National Exporter of the Year award.

Founded in 2013, FLEXHIBIT designs and manufactures affordable science center exhibits and portable STEM carts for discovery centers, children’s museums and schools. Expansion into international markets has increased the company sales with 45 percent of sales attributed to exports. With the growth in export sales, FLEXHIBIT has also seen a 25 percent growth in jobs in 2018.

“FLEXHIBIT is a great example of how a small business can enter into foreign markets to grow sales and create jobs in the local community,” SBA Seattle District Director Kerrie Hurd said. “Through the use of the SBA State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) FLEXHIBIT was able to attend international trade conferences to gain access to new markets.”

The SBA Small Business Exporter of the Year award – part of National Small Business Week May 5-11, 2019 – recognizes small businesses engaged in exporting for at least three years. Winners must demonstrate significant increase in export sales, profits and job growth, creative overseas marketing strategies, encouragement of other small businesses to export, and cooperation in the creation of export trading companies or introduction of unique trading relationships, products, or services.

“Without the SBA we were lacking critical knowledge particularity as it relates to exporting.” FLEXHIBIT President Coleen Quisenberry said. “We are honored to win this year’s recognition but know we could not have accomplished it without the support from the SBA.”

After receiving their first international order from Malaysia, Quisenberry realized she needed to know how do business internationally. She learned about export regulations and got help with how to strategically enter international markets from International Trade Business Advisor Vern Jenkins with the Washington Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Quisenberry has also utilized SBA STEP funds to attend international trade conferences, giving her access to foreign buyers she would have not otherwise been able to reach.

“It’s important for small businesses to think through how you are going to handle every query, every purchase, every transaction and make sure you have the systems in place to protect your interests,” Jenkins said. “FLEXHIBIT now has a pre-installation checklist for clients to complete before they schedule installation.”

Quisenberry shares her business knowledge and exporting experiences with other small businesses through various speaking opportunities and encourages other small businesses to take advantage of SBDC’s export assistance resources. She was also one of ten small businesses selected by America’s SBDC  to participate in their annual Client Showcase & Reception for Members of Congress on Capitol Hill earlier this year.

“Having so many resources available to us made a big difference in our confidence,” Quisenberry said. “We have avoided mistakes we probably would have made without our SBDC international trade business advisor’s experience guiding us.”

"National Small Business Week is a time to recognize the impact of small businesses, which make up 99 percent of all businesses in the Pacific Northwest and create two out of every three net new jobs,” SBA Regional Administrator Jeremy Field said. “Small business owners represent our country’s best. They are innovators, job creators and community leaders. Shining a spotlight on their inspirational stories and journeys is an honor.”

A celebration honoring local SBA winners from Washington state and the SBA Seattle District – which serves the state of Washington and northern Idaho – will be May 8, 2019. Other SBA local awards that will be recognized at the celebration include Small Business Person of the Year, Veteran-Owned Small Business, Rising Startup and Small Business Champion of the Year.

Each year since 1963, the President has issued a proclamation calling for the celebration of National Small Business Week. SBA recognizes outstanding small business owners for their personal successes and contributions to our nation.

For more information about National Small Business Week, visit www.sba.gov/nsbw.

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About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit www.sba.gov. The Seattle District Office serves most of Washington and northern Idaho with office locations in Seattle and Spokane.

 

 

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