NEW CASTLE – Marty Capoferri knows attending trade shows can be a costly, but necessary, part of doing business.
That’s why he’s grateful for the funding he has received from the commonwealth’s and Team Pennsylvania Foundation’s Market Access Grant (MAG) program.
MAG encourages the innovative use of funds to meet the specific international marketing needs of small and mid-sized Pennsylvania companies to enhance their capability to increase export sales.
“The biggest benefit we’ve seen is on the (trade) shows,” Capoferri, who is vice president of EzeFlow Group, said. “It definitely helps defray the cost, and the funding allows us to send one more person to the shows we attend.”
Having that additional person in attendance can be the difference between making, or not making, connections that ultimately benefit your business.
Capoferri shared a story about attending a trade show in Germany and meeting a man who had the expertise to fix a piece of machinery for the company. Once repaired, production will ramp up and lead to an increase in sales, he added.
Capoferri said he was excited at the prospect of turning an idle piece of equipment back into production.
“I tried to stay calm because I didn’t want to play my hand too quickly, he said, laughingly. “We also made contact with a French company that is going to build us some machining centers for our Canadian operation, so the show has definitely had a direct benefit for us.”
MAG grants are awards of up to $3,000 are available to offset 50 percent of the qualifying expenses associated with one new international marketing initiative. Events/activities that MAG funding can support are:
- Overseas Trade Show Participation
- Overseas Trade Mission Participation
- Foreign Market Sales Trip
- Subscription to United States Department of Commerce services
Flowline’s 120 employees at its New Castle plant in Lawrence County make and sell one-half inch to two-inch pipe fittings for clients in the energy sector here in the United States and abroad, according to Capoferri. Just over 40 percent of its sales are to international markets, he added. Ezeflow Group is a world-leading manufacturer of butt weld pipe fittings whose Flowline division is based in Pennsylvania.
“In 2005, our vision was to expand globally,” Capoferri said. “We literally started getting on planes and traveling all over the world to find new clients and new markets.”
Since 2005, the company has secured business in Australia, India Korea, Norway and Scotland, opened a sales office and company in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and increased its presence at international trade shows.
“During that time, while we were still just Ezeflow, we realized we could sell more product if we expanded our product line, and we did that by purchasing Flowline,” Capoferri said. “Ezeflow does large fittings while Flowline does smaller fittings. Our other division, Munro-Miller, is in a different type of market, oil and gas transmission.”
Capoferri sees great opportunity for company growth thanks to Pennsylvania’s natural gas play and the need to supply energy to worldwide markets.
“We see the power business going from coal to gas in the next 25 years and there is going to be a good bit of infrastructure built with that – that’s why we have positioned ourselves the way we have and that is how we go to market,” Capoferri said.
The grant was made possible through the state’s Regional Export Network working in partnership with the Northwest Commission, which is a local development district serving an eight-county region of Northwest Pennsylvania.