Global Markets: International BusinessUncle Sam Really Is Here to Help!

A 261Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine complete with images is available by clicking HERE

Recently I was given the opportunity to travel overseas with a delegation of US Commerce agents. The purpose of the trip was to promote international business between companies like mine, LiDAR USA, and businesses in South East Asia.

At this point you are probably wondering how this applies to anything you might read in LiDAR News. Most vendors know the market is global. I think most service providers would like to (incorrectly) think they are isolated from the international economy. If you offer a service scanning and consequently delivering a CAD product, classified data, GIS or other database, the office part of your project can be performed overseas and generally at a much more competitive price. For this reason you must be aware of the international market and understand that you are already involved.

Assuming you want to stay profitable you have to take this information and turn it to your advantage. You could spend a lot of resources to determine how to do this and in the process you would learn a lot, but it would be slow and expensive. So here’s the good news. The US Department of Commerce, and particularly the US Foreign & Commercial Service, has programs to help businesses grow in this area. I highly recommend visiting its website at

My own experience in this area started by researching the CARNET which is used for travel with expensive equipment. This led me to a Senior International Trade Specialist working for the US Dept of Commerce–U.S. Foreign Commercial Service. In turn that led to a very knowledgeable group of people working for the U.S. and Alabama Departments’ of Commerce along with an International Trade Specialist working for the University of Alabama. What I had learned on my own over the course of many weeks about the CARNET process was explained to me in 30 minutes by one specialist! I knew at that point that I had struck gold.

It doesn’t end there. These same people will help and guide you to the appropriate legal firms if necessary. Just knowing whether you do or do not need legal help is a plus. In addition, they know nuances about each country that you may not find out about before it’s "too late" and you are already committed in a bad way (copyrights, trademarks, patents, etc.).

Generally, conferences seem to be considered one of the best ways to meet prospective business partners and clients. However, the aforementioned organizations offer special programs to assist you in each country you target for business.

One such program that is potentially much better than a conference is The Gold Key Matching Service. I was privileged to use this service, and it was amazing. The US Commercial Service agency will research the local businesses and economy to see if your business is a good fit in the area. If there is sufficient interest this generally leads to B2B meetings. To top it off, you get all of this for much less than a conference fee. It’s great to see our tax dollars working towards something positive.

These organizations are purposed to help you and me. I have just touched on a few things they can do. There is much more. I would like to leave you with two things. First, contact these agencies and see if they can help you in any way. Second, they are truly servants of the people in the right way. They need our support. Call your congressman and give them a positive plug. Let your tax dollars work towards something positive.

Jeff Fagerman is the CEO and a licensed surveyor of LiDAR USA. Jeff is a graduate of Ferris State University and Purdue with a Masters degree from the School of Civil Engineering.

A 261Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine complete with images is available by clicking HERE