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Written by ProfitGuide Staff

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FTS Forest Technology

Automated weather systems
Sales to Mexico: Up to $2 million

For those with patience, flexibility and a top-notch product, Mexico can provide great rewards. Just ask FTS Forest Technology Systems Ltd., whose clients include Mexico’s national meteorological service and navy.

Victoria-based FTS manufactures weather stations, which measure wind speed, rainfall and other meteorological conditions. President Brian Bolton says the firm got its start in Mexico in 1999, after meeting a Mexican sales agent at a tradeshow and signing him on. The agent helped FTS wade through complex trade procedures and the “heavy bureaucratic layer” that accompanies government contracts. Moreover, the agent knew people in the navy and weather service. Those relationships proved critical in a market in which, says Bolton, “there was no trust among strangers.”

FTS exhibited flexibility and commitment to the Mexican market by creating demonstration systems in advance of signed contracts and by providing custom-made, laminated Spanish-language manuals for field use. “They have people that are just as skilled as any of our technical people, but in far fewer numbers,” says Bolton. “We really bend over backwards to try to make them successful.”

Bolton has also learned that “you need someone who’s brilliant with paperwork — it’s more complex with NAFTA than ever before.” And if you’re after government contracts, be wary around election time as there can be little continuity between administrations. Even approved projects are at risk, notes Bolton, who advises other entrepreneurs to buy export insurance:

“If your project’s not under way before an election, then assume you’re back at square one.” — SB

What Mexio wants

1   Environmental products:
Mexico needs engineering and consulting services, equipment and technology for waste management and pollution control. “Political consciousness is awakening, and they’re starting to try to resolve these problems,” says Fred Sheehy, international marketing consultant with Ontario Exports Inc. According to Government of Canada research, environmental spending in Mexico will grow from $6 billion in 2000 to $35 billion in 2010.

2   Construction and building technology:
“There’s a shortage of more than one million homes a year in Mexico,” says Sheehy. No wonder: Mexican building techniques are behind the times. Advanced, environmentally friendly and cost-effective building systems and products are needed for both residential and commercial construction.

3   Automotive:

© 2004 Susanne Baillie

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