Kentucky Faces of Trade

KY Faces of Trade profile Aug. 12, 2005

Paducah, KY

Richard Grana
Number of Employees: 2
Industry: International sales management
Years in International Market: 14

Want to know the difference a free trade agreement can make for a U.S.-based exporter? Just ask Richard Grana of Impex. When the U.S.-Chile FTA went into effect in 2004, his company’s sales in Chile shot up 57 percent in one year. Impex had been selling American goods in Chile for 12 years already, and had long found it a profitable market for the manufacturing equipment and environmental technologies it helped its clients sell there. But the FTA, combined with a strong Chilean peso, gave American products a competitive pricing advantage that was hard to beat.

That, says, Grana, makes his company’s experience in Chile an example of one of the most important tenets of any blueprint for international success: you have to know your market, and know when to strike. Impex does business in 20 countries around the world. “Being patient and picking the right country at the right time is crucial,” he notes. Which is why Impex is currently focusing heavily on developing new markets in Europe, whose currency remains very strong.

In addition to marketing products overseas for U.S. manufacturers, the company helps its clients hire and train overseas agents and distributors, and designs plant installations and custom material handling equipment. Part of the training process involves bringing foreign associates to Impex’s HQ in Paducah, which is how Grana has also, perhaps inadvertently, become a promoter of the U.S. tourism industry. Some of the trainees, he says, “have never been anywhere. So even when they come to a small city like Paducah, they think it’s great.”