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Austin Company Finds Success in the Global Marketplace with Help from SBA and the Department of Commerce

Austin Company Finds Success in the Global Marketplace with Help from SBA and the Department of Commerce

By Peter J. Cazamias, SBA Official
Published: May 3, 2018

Optimal Electronics provides software solutions for electronics manufacturing companies. Their strength is the ability to develop and implement state of the art algorithms and customize solutions for specific customer requirements.  Optimal largely had been an “indirect” exporter, selling to U.S. based companies that export, but now also is exporting directly to the Mexican and European markets.

The direct engagement in the global marketplace was spurred in part by CEO Ranko Vujosevic’s decision to hire four software engineers from Mexico on a non-immigrant NAFTA Professional (TN) visa, which allows citizens of Canada and Mexico, as NAFTA professionals, to work in the U.S. in prearranged business activities.  Optimal is now launching into direct sales to Mexico through these hires.

In April of 2017, Optimal Electronics utilized State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) funding, administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration to participate in the State of Texas Pavilion at Hannover Messe, the largest industrial trade show in the world, held annually in Germany.  Optimal was one of 11 companies in the Texas Pavilion, 10 of which utilized STEP funding to support their participation.

At that show, Vujosevic met SBA International Trade Finance Specialist, and fellow Texan, Alale Allal.  Allal provided trade finance counseling for U.S. companies at the trade show, as a representative of the Dallas U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC).

Optimal needed working capital to provide competitive terms to clients they met at Hannover Messe.  That’s where meeting SBA really paid off.  Allal connected Vujosevic to an SBA-approved Export Express lender, Texas Champion Bank, out of San Antonio, Texas.  After reviewing the business plan and discussing the loan structure with Allal, the bank approved the loan.  The funds supported Optimal’s additional market development and other working capital needs to grow the business internationally.

While SBA’s main focus is on financing exports, the Department of Commerce specializes in connecting U.S. companies to foreign market opportunities.  Optimal is utilizing Commerce’s signature Gold Key program to find clients in such European markets as Poland, the United Kingdom, Hungary, and Germany.  Optimal is also working with Commerce’s U.S. Commercial Service to identify distributors in Asia.

Through the combined assistance of the SBA and the Department of Commerce, Optimal Electronics signed its first customer contract in China in January 2018.

Vujosevic said: “We are exporters in China now, with many more customers to come. We are going to reduce the trade imbalance one customer at a time.”

Optimal Electronics had minimal experience with direct exporting prior to the STEP-facilitated Hannover Messe participation.  The fortuitous meeting with the SBA official led to the successful acquisition of the financing they needed and an introduction to others in the federal government that assisted in Optimal Electronics’ global expansion.  

The good news is that you don’t need to travel to Germany to meet an SBA International Trade Finance Specialist that can help you grow your global market presence. The SBA has 21 around the United States at U.S. Export Assistance Centers. 

To learn more about the SBA’s State Trade Expansion Program, visit: www.SBA.gov/STEP

To find a local U.S. Export Assistance Center, visit: www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/eac

About the Author:

Peter J. Cazamias
Peter J. Cazamias

SBA Official

Peter J. Cazamias serves as the Associate Administrator for SBA's Office of International Trade.