NEW YORK -- The export business has often been considered a hassle by U.S. companies that preferred the simplicity of selling domestically in a huge market.
The problems of dealing in foreign currencies, customs regulations, letters of credit and language differences all have made exporting a daunting endeavor.
But with competition in the U.S. market stiffening, it is becoming necessary to look elsewhere for growth. Seeing a business opportunity in easing the complexities of overseas selling, the State Street Bank and Trust Co., Boston, has teamed up with the factoring group of a large Netherlands bank and an international shipping, warehousing and freight forwarding company to form EuroMasters.
Malden Mills, a $400-million-a-year, family-owned textile company, is one of EuroMasters' major clients, and according to Wesley F. Rydin, treasurer of the Lawrence, Mass., textile firm, the arrangement has been of great help in Malden's export program.
Malden has three plants, all in New England, and is a fully integrated producer of faced fabrics. It makes knits and wovens, all of which are textured or flocked, including the Polartec knit fabric used in active outerwear such as skiwear, underwear and shirting material.
"We do everything but spin the yarn," says Rydin.
In the past seven years, he says, Malden's export business has exploded. From about $10 million seven years ago, Malden's export business now is about one-third of total volume, or about $140 million.
Export growth, Rydin says, has been largely in apparel fabrics sold in Europe. Malden also does exporting to the Far East and to South America. Its upholstery fabric exports are mostly to the Mideast, he said.
When Malden first started exporting, it used a domestic factor that had contacts with overseas factors.
"There was never any direct contact with the market we were selling into," Rydin said. "Our only contact was with the domestic factor who would contact the overseas factor, who would contact someone else. We rarely talked to anyone who really knew our markets. There was trouble handling checks, and there were long delays in collecting funds."
In short, he said, the domestic factors just didn't have the expertise in export.
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