Canada: Steppingstone to a wider world of exporting


More customers. What small business wouldn’t want that?

A proven method to expand the pool of potential customers is through exporting. After all, 96% of the world’s consumers are outside the United States.

Advantages of exporting to Canada

For many small businesses, the logical first step into exporting is Canada.

Canada’s official languages are English and French, so language does not present a major barrier to business.

Canada is our neighbor to the north. The majority of the Canadian population lives within 100 miles of the U.S. border. The proximity of nations and peoples means transportation costs can reasonably be expected to be less than to a destination an ocean away.

Cyclops Industries: Celebrating success . . .

Many West Virginia small businesses are successfully exporting to Canada. One of these is Cyclops Industries, Inc., based in South Charleston. Cyclops Industries

designs and manufactures products used to observe processes in industrial pressure vessels and pipelines. These include safety sight glasses, viewport assemblies, sight flow indicators, spray rings, sight lights, and sight glass replacements.

This year, Cyclops marks 60 years in business.

Since Cyclops was founded in 1959, Kim Mack is the third generation of her family to lead as company president. She talks about her small West Virginia company’s experience with exporting.

Question: How did Cyclops start selling to Canada?

Mack: Our relationship with our sales representative started in 2000. The representative had seen our products at a trade show my father attended. The representative is a key reason for us exporting to Canada and remains a strong influence in our Canadian market.

Question: Has exporting to Canada been a positive experience?

Mack: We’ve received commendations for our exports to Canada and many other countries as well.

Question: What made your product successful in Canada?

Mack: Our representative chose our products over our competitors’ due to the quality. We have thousands of sight glasses in use in Canada and all around the world. Very seldom do we have to replace a product.

Marketing in Canada is the same as it is here in the U.S. Our representative attends trade shows for our products. The difference in selling to Canada versus the U.S. is that in order to be able to sell our product in any province in Canada, we must obtain a Canadian Registration Number — CRN — for each province in which we see a market for our product. Right now, we have five active CRNs in five Canadian provinces.

Question: What are the biggest challenges or considerations when selling to Canada?

Mack: Obtaining Canadian Registration Numbers for our product. This is due to the nature of the product we sell. Not every product would require a CRN.

Question: Do you see potential to grow your sales in Canada?

Mack: As long as the oil companies are strong, we will continue to sell product.

Question: Have you benefitted from working with West Virginia Development Office export promotion or other programs?

Mack: Ours is such a niche product, it isn’t always a good fit with what the Development Office is focusing on. However, the Development Office has provided great insight on doing business in new countries with which we do business.

Question: If entrepreneurs walk away from this story knowing one thing, what would you want that to be?

Mack: We have many resources in our state that will provide any company with the desire to promote their product to other countries. Be open to their services and wisdom regarding exporting and it can become a worldwide marketplace!

Thriving Industries

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