Fire Training Facility Manufacturer Grows by Exporting with the SBA
Kirila Fire Training Facilities was established in 2007 to provide a service that covers all activities involved with the design, manufacture, construction, modification, repair, maintenance, and inspection of fire training facilities and training tools. The company will design, construct, erect and maintain fire structures per its customer’s specifications or repair their current fire trainers. Starting with the construction of the Fire Training Facility, Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio, Jerry and his team of experts began providing fire training facilities for U.S. military bases at home and abroad. This was a natural bridge into exporting into other countries, but Jerry needed guidance about whether or not there were export opportunities existing that would increase Kirila Fire’s growth and success.
Jerry turned to Mousa Kassis, Director of the SBDC Export Assistance Center at Youngstown State University, along with two interns to conduct an in-depth study on the company’s chances for exporting. In 2013, Jerry followed this plan to jumpstart its entry into exporting and worked with the SBDC Export Assistance Director for 18 months before executing its first contract with Canada’s Royal Airforce in 2014. Since then, Jerry has expanded Kirila Fire’s market from its first export client to clients in 15 countries. Jerry participated in 98 sessions of SBDC Export Assistance Network assistance for a total of 296.1 hours. The company also made use of an SBA 7(a) loan – a line of credit, which was renewed twice. Kirila Fire also participated in SBA’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) program three times, receiving a total of $27,500 over a four-year period. STEP provides financial awards to state and territory governments to assist small businesses with export development. The company also successfully made use of a SBA-backed PPP loan to weather the effects of the COVID-19 crisis.
Due to exporting, sales for Kirila Fire have skyrocketed. The company has gone from 25 employees in 2015 to more than 35, due to its growth. Exporting has resulted in diversified revenue for the company, a larger market for Kirila Fire products, investment expansion, in addition to employment expansion. Because of Kirila Fire’s staying power, growth, contributions to other exporters, and expansion in employment, Jerry Kirila and Kirila Fire Training Facilities, Inc. were named the Region V Great Lakes Exporter of the Year during National Small Business Week 2020.