Our Exporting Journey

Robin Hall / April 12, 2019

If you listen to the politicians, then you would be under the impression that exporting is easy. SMS is a company that has been a successful exporter, but this was not by accident. The global oil industry provides many opportunities to access new international markets. But this is easier said than done.

Back in 2012, SMS under took a strategic decision to diversify and start trading in the Middle East and Malaysia.  The increased international work required specialist knowledge and procedures. Scottish Enterprise supported our international growth through some training and consultancy. In 2013, I personally was promoted to the Logistic Coordinator role to support the international market growth.

INTL Trade Instrument through Scottish Enterprise funding aided our growth by providing training and consultancy. The aim was to put in place a company trade policy and supporting procedures. The whole management team was involved. The training covered

International Transactions

Export Control & Trade Sanctions

International Logistics

Customs Management

By involving the whole management team, we were able to address each department own challenges whilst sharing and solving the problems associated with exporting. Further training was undertaken with staff trained in Incoterms, dangerous goods, export control, commodity code classification.

It was completed over a 6-month period, with processes, procedure and forms ensuring SMS was able to access new markets with the lowest risk to the business. These policy and procedures are still very much embedded in our working practises. With our diversification and the introduction of new products the trade policy and processes are constantly updated to meet the market requirements.  It has resulted in international markets accounting for over 60 % of our work, an increase of over 20 % in 3 years.

Our journey from operating solely in the UKCS to having 3 regional bases and operating in over 20 countries has been a challenging but rewarding journey.

What have learnt on our journey?

  • Planning is key to exporting
  • Select the right product for right market.
  • Exporting is a skill. So training is important
  • Exporting is a team sport. No one department or person is responsible for delivery.
  • Local knowledge is important

It is still exciting when you get an enquiry in from a place you have never traded in before.  The more remote the more exciting for logistic coordinators like me, Falkland Islands and Papa New Guinea spring to mind as ones that got away.  The dynamic nature of markets and borders means that the international trade landscape changes rapidly so we cannot be complacent. We have seen this most recently with Brexit and the US – China trade wars. But this internationalisation has brought challenges along with rewards to the teams involved.

The world is a small place and is getting smaller as technology develops.   The UKCS is seen globally as a leading market in the oil industry.  Developing innovative products here in Aberdeen provides opportunities.  People see the value in Scottish engineering. SMS mission is to be an “Scottish Engineering company of International Acclaim”, we are well on the way.

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