It can safely be said that the distance of the American market is no challenge for successful export-oriented Slovenian companies, judging by the results of a short survey regarding the business conducted last year by these companies in the American market and their ambitions.
Impol has high hopes in the automobile and aviation industries
The Slovenian Impol group is the leading manufacturer of aluminum rods for the automobile industry in Europe and the sixth biggest Slovenian exporter. The group and its products have been present in the American market for over 50 years and since 1990 they have been selling these products under their own brand. “The products we export to the US market are mainly of high added value. Our customers are representatives from demanding industries such as the automobile and aviation industries. Above all, these customers appreciate the quality of our products, which is strictly related to our own development of aluminum alloys with exceptional mechanical properties,” highlighted a spokesperson for Impol, which generates 94 percent of its revenue from exports. The group last year increased its revenue by 27 percent to almost 700 million euros, while generating 39 million euros of profit.
When asked about their growth in the American market in the last year, they stated that there’s a substantial increase in the demand for niche products used in the automobile and aviation industries, and that due to the measures that were taken against China this year, they also managed to launch their rolled products in the US market and thereby considerably increase their sales volume. Impol last year generated 1.5 percent or a little over 10 million of their revenue in the US, while a total of 2.05 percent of its sales were generated in the North American market. In the future, they would like to gradually increase their sales share in the American market and remain a niche supplier in the field of pressed products.
The door manufacturer Pirnar plans to open 10 franchise stores
In the middle of last year, the Slovenian door manufacturing company Pirnar entered the American market when they opened their first sale store in the vicinity of Los Angeles. “We wanted to learn the ins and outs of the American market, familiarize ourselves with our customers and their demand for product. After over half a year, we can say that the decision to expand into the American market was the right step,” emphasized Gašper Pirnar of the Pirnar company. The Slovenian company generates most of its revenue in the German market. Last year, their doors were awarded the German Design Award, an important accolade which some call the European design Oscar.
But the company’s ambitions to expand in the American market do not end with the opening of their first store in Orange County, as they plan to open a new store in Las Vegas soon and, in approximately three months, another one in San Francisco, while their goal is to open at least five franchise stores in the US this year, followed by another ten next year. The decision to venture across the Atlantic is based on the desire to lower their dependency on the German market. “American consumers seek something different, new, unique. Americans appreciate hand craftsmanship and artistry, and this could prove to be a big advantage for us,” added Gašper Pirnar. The company would also like to strengthen its brand in Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Great Britain and France.
TPV wishes to expand into the American market with its own production
The TPV group, a developer and manufacturer of components for the automobile industry such as bodywork kits, chassis and components parts, automobile seat elements and engine gaskets, has been present in the American market since 2014. At the moment, the share of revenue generated directly from the North American market is small, but with the newly acquired deals it is increasing. The company would also like to expand their own production into the US market.
“With the expansion to the American market we wish to establish the position of the TPV group as a global supplier of the automobile industry. The expansion and growth of business of our European customers largely contributed to making the decision to intensify the presence in the mentioned market. Cooperation in platform deals in the American market also demands an increased level of localization as regards complex products,” stated a spokesperson for the TPV company, which also exports to the US indirectly through its European partners.
“With this newly obtained business potential, we’re hoping to significantly increase our presence in the American market,” continued the company spokesperson. The company’s main partners are BMW, Daimler, Volvo, Jaguar, Volkswagen, Brose, Benteler and Magna.
The US is the market of many new opportunities for Akrapovič
The renowned manufacturer of exhaust systems for motorcycles and automobiles began its campaign in the American market soon after it was established in 1991. This paid off as the company last year generated approximately 13 percent of all of its revenue in the American aftermarket segment. The company cooperates with two distributors in sales of aftermarket exhaust systems for motorcycles and, following the update of its business model in the middle of last year, with another company in sales of aftermarket exhaust systems for automobiles.
They sense that the biggest opportunity for business growth lies in aftermarket products. “Due to the highly-developed automobile modification culture and also due to the general market potential, the American market presents one of the biggest markets with a potential for further growth in the segment of aftermarket products,” pointed out a spokesperson for the company. They see new opportunities in the sports car and super sports car segments, mainly for models of the BMW and Porsche brands, for which they have developed a wide array of aftermarket exhaust systems and into which they plan to expand further in the future.
“One of the products found in our range is the exhaust system for the Chevrolet Corvette, the eminent automotive icon from the US. In addition to the aftermarket products, the company also manufactures exhaust systems for certain motorcycle and automobile brands which are also sold in the US. Due to various reasons and most of all due to the large number of orders in other segments, we do not plan activities in the custom segment. However, we do see a large potential in the “side-by-side” car class in the future,” added the company spokesperson.
SIJ has high hopes for its special steel
The Slovenian Steel Industry (SIJ) with its sale of steel and steel products is among the ten biggest Slovenian exporters and is present in the American market with a wide array of products. Some of their bestellers are the SIHARD tool steel for use in cold conditions, SIDUR and SIMAXX special steel and SINOXX stainless steel, and last year, they generated 9 percent of sales revenue in the US market.
“We have achieved an increase of exports to the US, while the demand for all of our products also increased,” pointed out Dušica Radjenovič, the Head Manager of Sales in the SIJ group. The increasing demand in the American market was attributed to favorable trends in the automobile, oil, gas and nuclear industries, as well as to increased activity in the American market. One of these activities was the company’s participation at the PowerGen exhibition in Orlando.
The SIJ group also has its own distribution company in the US, Kopo International, located in Hazlet, New Jersey, which sells the company’s products and, with a thousand-tonne permanent supply of SIJ steel, offers American customers quick and reliable delivery and responsive local support.
SwatyComet relies on high-quality products
SwatyComet, the Slovenian manufacturer of grinding and cutting wheels, has been present in the North American market since 2017. The doors to the American market were opened for them by the American family company Weiler Corporation, who have been the owners of SwatyComet since 2015. Everyone in the company is pleased with their business in the American market and the predictions for the future also look promising.
“We can be very satisfied with the progress made in the growth of grinding tools, which we produce in Slovenia. We are most pleased with the efficiency of the products we offer at the high-quality market level. Our products successfully compete with and, in the premium product segment, often exceed the efficiency of our competitor’s products. This inspires us and provides optimism for future growth,” emphasized Matjaž Merkan, the CEO of SwatyComet.
Their expansion of business to the American market was supported by the parent company Weiler, with their highly qualified teams in America, Mexico and Brazil. “Swatycomet mainly seeks buyers within the metal processing industry in the American market. Our products are intended for cutting and grinding metal components prior to, during and after welding. Our most common end users are shipyards and companies dealing in the construction of pipelines,” added Matjaž Merkan. The company see new business opportunities mainly in the automobile and steel industries.
Droga Kolinska and its Argeta pâté making their way across the Atlantic
A decision to expand into the American market was also made by the company Droga Kolinska, which forms a part of the leading food industry group in the region of the former Yugoslavia, the Croatian Atlantic Grupa. Among its most recognized products in the region and in Europe is their Argeta brand of pâté, which since last year has also been produced in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
The company stated that they were encouraged to take the long journey across the Atlantic by emigrants from the former Yugoslavia who now live in the US and Canada. “In America, emigrants from our region showed a strong demand for Argeta pâté, but due to the strict American legislation governing the import of meat products, we were not able to meet the demand. While striving to at least obtain the mandatory certificates and permits for our fish spreads, the Americans originating from our region carried the Argeta pâté in their suitcases or had it delivered through the mail. There exists no agreement between the US and Europe which would allow the export of poultry and meat products to the US. The sale of fish spreads was approved by the U.S.F.D.A. and we have been exporting Argeta tuna and Argeta salmon, both produced in Slovenia, to the American market for a few years. For the production of Argeta made from meat, we have concluded a production agreement with the American company Brother&Sister of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania”, explained the company representatives.
In Harrisburg, Argeta is also being produced for the Canadian market and this year’s plan is to sell 303 tonnes of Argeta. They have selected the Grand Prix Trading Corp of New York as the distributor, “We’re starting in the ethno market in North America, with 1050 sales locations in the US and 740 in Canada,” the Droga Kolinska representatives explained.