Silver Crystal Sports provides sports jersey customization at the point of sale. Jeff Silver is the company’s co-CEO. Read more about the company’s export journey here.

When and why did you first start thinking about exporting as part of your business?

Exporting has always been a part of the business from day one given the nature of the number of teams/retail accounts in the U.S.

Canada has the same population as the state of California and nine professional sports teams. There are more than 300 million people in the U.S. and 125 professional teams. When you do the math, exporting was a necessity for our long-term success.

Given increased protectionist sentiment in the U.S, are you worried about the future?

Fortunately, I don’t think the Trump administration is as focused on Canada as it is with its relationship with Mexico. If we had a Mexican factory it may be different. There have been some new sensitivities around shipping across the border, but that’s it.

Tell us about your export journey that got Silver Crystal Sports where it is today?

A learning experience. We had a number of issues with paperwork, delivery times, etc., but having the correct logistics and brokerage partner has made the process much easier and efficient.

Is there a specific story/anecdote from your company’s history that you would consider a critical moment for your export journey?

We once had to jump on a plane to deliver product to our partner for same day service that was both challenging and interesting, but you have to do what is necessary to ensure a sale.

What is the biggest difference between selling in Canada and selling in another country? How did you adapt to that difference?

Selling to different countries means that, in essence, you are selling to different cultures, and business isn’t necessarily done the same way. When dealing with the U.S. there isn’t that much difference, but in other countries, a different language and culture can pose challenges.

How has exporting changed the way you market/sell your products/services in Canada?

Exporting has opened up further opportunities to expand our offering here in Canada. Now, we have international testimonials, which are helping us break into the retail sector.

What have you learned from exporting that has benefitted your sales/operations in Canada?

Exporting has made us more nimble and agile. When you are exporting, there’s a huge time sensitivity around delivery and production and I think that’s an international theme. That’s forced us to become more efficient and as a result, to better service our Canadian customers.

Can you share the best lesson learned from a bad exporting experience?

Research is key, and you need to ensure you are prepared for the unexpected, because chances are the unexpected will likely happen. You must ensure that you have a good customs broker and logistics partner that understands your business and are invested in your success.

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

Definitely research the market you are going in to and then research it again. Have a solid plan around marketing and execution – many times that’s makes the world of difference.

What is one characteristic that you believe every exporter should possess?

Definitely successful exporters need to have two traits – patience and perseverance. If at first you don’t succeed, keep on trying.

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

Technology. IT is much flatter in this digital age. There is also a greater focus on domestic-made products versus offshore-made goods as the price gap has shrunk the past few years.