Prince Edward Island-based wastewater technology company Island Water Technologies develops renewable powered wastewater solutions for remote installations. Patrick Kiely is the founder and CEO of the company, which recently completed its first export sale to a customer in Algeria.
For more information about exporting this sector, you can read our story on Exploring the evolving nature of Canada’s clean tech opportunity.
What was your first export sale?
It was the sale this year of a containerized wastewater treatment system installed for a remote work camp of 300 people in Hassi Messaoud, Algeria.
How did that first export opportunity arise?
We have worked with an amazing business development consultant, Andrew Matthews at Douglas McNeill Consulting, for the past few years. Andrew arranged for us to present at the Canada-Arab Business Council in 2015. It was through this speaking opportunity that our business relationships in Algeria were first developed.
What were the most valuable lessons you learned with your first export project?
- Shipping / logistics are not always straightforward. Shipping into Algeria is particularly difficult, and partnering with the right people that have past experience is key.
- Communication. Continually keeping key stakeholders in the loop on progress from manufacturing, through shipping, through installation and operation, is key to identifying any issues early on and addressing them before major roadblocks develop.
- More communication. Having people on your team who are on site and can communicate effectively (in the local language) with senior management and local maintenance / technical professionals.
Based on your experience, what would you say is the number one thing new SMEs need to know about exporting?
Export opportunities only become real if you make the effort to travel to your target regions and make up-front commitments to your clients. Developing relationships with companies that are looking for more than just a quick fix, and are interested in developing long-term and strategic partnerships is key.
What, if anything, makes you nervous about exporting in the current global economic climate?
Right now is a great time for Canadian companies to export. Given the weak Canadian dollar we are in a great position to offer cost-effective solutions to a global market place. Strengthening oil prices may change this, but we don’t see that happening in the short to medium term.