It all started with a call from a gentleman in Ukraine. And that was the beginning of our step into international sales, back in 2007. I (Brad) began working with ABM the following year and have been the International Sales Manager since September 2015. As an aside, Dan Custis is not only the CEO of ABM, but also my father, so I saw him start ABM and the risks he took as an entrepreneur to start a company in a garage (literally) to now shipping to multiple nations around the globe.
But back to our start in international sales. The Ukrainian contact had a farm but couldn’t access the inoculants he wanted to use. He was also interested in becoming a distributor for our products. He found us on the Internet and simply called our office. Dan took the call and immediately saw it as an opportunity to expand into Europe. He worked with the gentleman to register ABM’s products in Ukraine where they could be sold exclusively. After the success in our first year, we started looking at how to expand to other international markets.
We began with doing plenty of research—we didn’t want to have any surprises. Our goal was to find markets that would be the best fit for our products. Then we started gathering resources from local, state and federal export and trade organizations.
Some of our current customers were already exporting their products, so we touched base with them and asked about the resources they were using. We picked five target markets, from a crop and acre standpoint, and then went to work understanding the regulatory constraints to register ABM products in those markets. Once we understood the regulatory requirements, we took another hard look and considered if the market opportunity lined up with the regulatory rules and timeline we had set to meet our revenue goals on time and within budget. If it sounds like a lot of upfront work, it was. But we believe it was critical to our success.
Today, the majority of our sales…