Q&A with Michael Cooper, Marketing Director
TMEIC Corporation
Roanoke, Virginia

TMEIC drives industry around the world through a comprehensive offering of unique systems solutions including variable frequency drives, motors, photovoltaic inverters and advanced automation systems for a wide range of industrial applications. Established in 2003, Toshiba Mitsubishi-Electric Industrial Systems Corporation (TMEIC) resulted from the integration of Toshiba and Mitsubishi Electric Corporation’s industrial systems divisions.

TMEIC’s committed approach to solutions development ensures that in every industry in which TMEIC collaborates around the globe, its customers will benefit from some of the world’s brightest minds. As a result of this powerful combination of resources, TMEIC is positioned to develop innovative technologies, quickly respond to industry trends, and apply solutions to a wide variety of industrial market segments around the world.

TMEIC’s success is directly tied to client achievements. From concept to installation, the experienced team of engineers develops lasting relationships by working hand in hand with partners to ensure challenges are met and business goals exceeded. TMEIC delivers life cycle support services—from the introduction and manufacture of the most appropriate systems, through its maintenance and support, to its eventual modernization as technologies advance.

TMEIC has been working with VEDP’s International Trade Division for over 15 years when the Roanoke operation was a joint venture between Toshiba and General Electric. The company is a member of the award-winning Virginia Leaders in Export Trade (VALET) Program class of January 2007.

Why did your company make the decision to explore exporting?
TMEIC is a global company, and our Roanoke operation has been doing business around the globe for over 35 years.  In fact, we have done business in over 120 countries, and for many years exports made up over 50% of our annual sales.  So there was never a conscious decision to begin exporting.  Rather, as our traditional customer base began establishing operations abroad, we followed and eventually exports became our primary focus as the manufacturing industries we serve moved out of the US.

What is the biggest lesson your company has learned about exporting?
Every country and every market has its own specific characteristics and lessons.  If there is one universal lesson that can be applied to all of the geographic and industry markets in which we are engaged, it would be to only enter a market if you intend to be there for the long term. This includes thorough research of the market before getting started, developing your entry plan based on the needs of the market and working to develop client relationships that can weather the tough times as well as the successes.

What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started exporting?
Not to expect immediate or short term results.  Some of our biggest export successes took years of relationship building and countless seemingly fruitless meetings before we were successful.  Also, often a first success has led to other projects with the same customer or other similar operations in the market due to the power of a positive reputation.

What advice do you have for companies that are just starting to export?
Do your homework.  Analyze your products to ensure that you have something that meets all requirements of the market or markets you wish to enter.  This could include cultural and desirability requirements, but also could include regulatory requirements.  Exporting is never easy, so start with a target market that has similar characteristics to the U.S., if possible.  Take baby steps until you are comfortable taking your show to large and complex markets which may also require a long plane ride.  Make use of the government resources available to all exporters and potential exporters in Virginia.  In particular, the VEDP International Trade team is the best place to start and to work with as you develop and grow your export markets.  The U.S. Department of Commerce Export Assistance Centers are another great resource, particularly when traveling abroad to a new market.

To learn more about TMEIC Corporation, click here.