Ger McNamee is one of the co-founders of GongShow Gear – a popular hockey lifestyle brand and clothing manufacturer based in Ottawa.

You can learn more about their export success story here.

What was your first export sale?

A German retail store ordered our gear back in 2007. I will never forget how proud I felt the first time I saw two German kids wearing our hats in Munich.

How did that first export opportunity arise?

We were contacted via our website from the German retailer, and after insuring the shipment with EDC, we sent it over the pond. The rest is history.

When it comes to exports, what do you know now that you wish you knew then?

You can’t just export goods and hope that your brand story will be told properly overseas. Spending the time and effort to build your brand with your distributor or retail partner in new markets is worth it in the long run.

How has the trading world changed since you started in business?

It is much easier for suppliers, brands, and customers to connect nowadays than it was in 2002 when we started. You really had to know someone who travelled to those areas back then. Now you can do a few quick Google searches and you’re talking to a customer or supplier in Berlin, Shanghai or Helsinki. There has never been a better time to sell your goods to the world.

What is the #1 thing new SMEs need to know about export and trade?

Get boots on the ground first – don’t just ship goods and cross your fingers. Research into the local culture and customs; go visit the business that wants to import your goods to get a feel for its setup; and if possible, insure your shipments through EDC so you can sleep at night.