Hydronalix manufactures robotic water rescue systems and small unmanned watercrafts. First responders and the military use the company’s products to aid in water rescue and for other applications such as bridge inspection, scientific research and law enforcement on oceans, lakes and rivers. Depending on the application, these systems can be equipped with personal floatation devices, sensors, cameras and imaging sonar. Hydronalix capabilities include advanced research and development, design and prototyping, test and evaluation, production, customer training and service.
Arizona MEP, ExporTech™ and AZSTEP Help Hydronalix Grow Its Business
Hydronalix and Arizona MEP first worked together to help the company develop precision molds for its vehicles. After the success of this project and learning about the company’s goal to grow export sales, Arizona MEP approached Hydronalix with the opportunity to enroll in ExporTech. Hydronalix was already selling into export markets but did not have a defined export strategy or process. ExporTech provides a proven and systematic approach to proactively develop export markets. “With ExporTech, we were able to develop an export strategy, and with the partial funding and support through AZSTEP we were able to execute on our export strategy by participating in key international trade shows,” said Tony Mulligan, Hydronalix’s CEO. “This has enabled us to win over new foreign accounts.” The Arizona State Trade Expansion Program (AZSTEP) offers services and tools to Arizona small businesses looking to enter or expand into new international markets. This program is also delivered by the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) and is a great companion program to ExporTech.
Structured, Sustainable ExporTech Program Sets the Stage for Export Growth
Through the ExporTech program, Mulligan and his team worked with the Arizona MEP client advisor through individual coaching sessions and group workshops to develop an export plan. ExporTech uses a peer group model, and cohorts are on average comprised of 7-8 companies. “I think the success of the program is because it’s been repeatable and sustainable,” said Mulligan. “It takes a lot of continuous effort to grow our global customer base. In our case, ExporTech provided that critical push.” Through the program, Hydronalix learned how to structure and negotiate payment terms to ensure it received up-front payment, especially for systems customized to meet customer needs. Logistics and customs are also areas where ExporTech provides advice and help to avoid mistakes and costly errors.
Hydronalix Executes on Export Plan by Participating in Trade Missions Led by AZSTEP
Hydronalix was able to execute its export plan by participating in international trade shows, trade missions and other focused initiatives which were led by the AZSTEP program. AZSTEP helps fund the booth space for participating companies and provides partial funding for the travel costs. The participating companies travel as an Arizona small business delegation and meet with potential sales channel partners, end-users and buyers. “When we participate in these shows and trade missions, we use the opportunity to arrive a couple of days early and leave a couple of days after,” said Mulligan. “During those days, we will line up demos and our distributor will work to try to get the government officials to spend a half-day with us.”
“In 2016, before we started ExporTech, I think we were selling in 11 or 12 countries,” said Mulligan. “Now we have distributors in 33 countries, and we sell our products in 50 countries. The program has had a big impact on our business.”