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2016 Exporter of the Year: The Chamberlain Group / Great Barrington Small Biz Reaches More Than 50 Countries Across the World
(Pictured: Seth Goodall, SBA New England Regional Administrator; Karyn Polito, Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor; Robert H. Nelson, SBA Massachusetts District Director)
Lisa Chamberlain always dreamed of working in show business, never thinking she might someday be a small business owner.
Visual Effects to Mimetic Organs
A graduate of Princeton University and having attended the Yale School of Drama in the MFA program – Lisa’s passion was ultimately to produce live theatre. Her graduate internship took her to a special visual effects company based in New York City – where she spent six years as a producer of visual effects. In the 90’s, she became vice president/executive producer for visual effects at a popular digital production company, managing a staff of eighty. In 1995, Lisa joined Mass. Illusion in Lenox, MA – working alongside her now husband Eric Chamberlain, producing video effects for the studio’s work on top Hollywood blockbuster films such as: ERASER, THE MATRIX, and STARSHIP TROOPERS.
In 1997, Mass Illusion’s parent company decided to move the full-service visual effects studio closer to Hollywood in Alameda, CA – leaving Lisa and Eric Chamberlain with decisions to make of their own. That’s when a serendipitous phone call changed the course of their careers and led them to uncovering a niche market for producing life-like models for the growing medical device industry. A marketing director from the medical device industry asked if they could build a human leg for doctors to practice minimally invasive vein dissection. They had the experience of building models and miniatures for the silver screen, but never worked to produce something that would be used to train future clinicians.
Small Town Supported by Significant Resources
Founded in 1999, The Chamberlain Group designs and builds lifelike organs for surgical training. By working in close collaboration with medical device companies and teaching hospitals, the company creates simulation models that help address training needs for clinicians, sales, marketing, device research and development.
In 2000, Lisa became a client of Massachusetts Small Business Development Center -- and with free counseling services, her business plan for The Chamberlain Group won first prize in the UMass Five College Business Plan Competition. In 2003, the company was recognized with the Governor’s Entrepreneurial Spirit Award for spurring job creation and economic development – one of many achievements throughout the years.
The Massachusetts Export Center supported Lisa with an international sales strategy and helped The Chamberlain Group get export-ready, in order to grow the business overseas. Today, after 18 years in business, the company has grown to 25 employees and currently exports many of its 500 products directly from their Great Barrington office to over 50 countries worldwide. Their largest markets include: Switzerland, Brazil, China, France, Japan, and Germany.
“We are honored and delighted to be recipients of this year’s Exporter of the Year awards in the Commonwealth and the New England region,” said co-founder Lisa Chamberlain. “Eric and I have been well guided by the advice and encouragement we have received from the MSBDC and the Mass Export Center. It’s made the process of growing our business and our international reach viable, knowing we have subject experts to consult with who have our best interests at heart.”
SBA recognized Lisa Chamberlain as the 2016 Exporter of the Year for Massachusetts and New England. The company was nominated by P. Ann Pieroway, Regional Director of the Massachusetts Export Center.