In picture is Dr Vicky Kell, Invest NI Director of Trade, with Gerard Wilson, Sales Director at SAM Mouldings with one of the company's primed MDF mouldings.
SAM Mouldings in Antrim has won its first mainland European export business with support from Invest Northern Ireland.
The company has signed a deal to provide a range of products, including primed MDF mouldings, wood veneer mouldings, skirting boards, and architraves, to a leading specialist in construction materials for a network of builders’ merchants throughout The Netherlands.
SAM Mouldings, a UK leader in MDF architectural mouldings for the construction and DIY industries, was helped to pinpoint the market opening through its participation on Invest NI’s ‘Going Dutch’ programme last November.
The programme enabled the company to tap into the knowledge and experience of Northern Ireland Trade Consultants (NITC), an Amsterdam-based business with a wealth of experience gained doing business in The Netherlands.
Dr Vicky Kell, Invest NI’s Trade Director, commenting on the new business for SAM Mouldings, said: “Going Dutch has become one of our most successful initiatives, particularly businesses new to export markets. Over the past year, we’ve seen very many SMEs securing their first export sales. Others from previous programmes have gone on to win business in other international markets.
“Smaller companies clearly benefit from the practical assistance from an experienced marketing operation on the ground in The Netherlands. This expert support with market intelligence, lead generation and help with logistics, helps build confidence among participating SMEs.
“The Netherlands, of course, is an ideal market for first time and inexperienced exporters because of its close and historic links with the UK and Ireland and because English is widely spoken. We’ve found that Dutch business people are generally keen to develop relationships with Northern Ireland companies and are willing to work with them on developing sales elsewhere in Europe.”
Gerard Wilson, Sales Director at SAM Mouldings, describes the contract in The Netherlands as an immensely important breakthrough for the Northern Ireland company: “It’s our first export business outside the UK and will give us the knowledge and confidence to build our sales in The Netherlands and also to explore opportunities for our products and expertise in other neighbouring markets.
“We had been looking at how to diversify and strengthen our sales beyond Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland, which together accounts for 97 per cent of our business. Both markets have been experiencing difficulties because of the severe downturn in construction.
“The practical support we received through Invest NI’s ‘Going Dutch’ programme was excellent. NITC’s knowledge of the market and ability to organise interviews with key buyers were extremely impressive. Going Dutch proved to be really worthwhile for us.
“We were delighted to host a visit by our new Dutch customers to see our operation at Antrim and now have a strong relationship with them. As a result, we are already discussing how we can help them with new products for their extensive distribution network.”
SAM Mouldings employs 85 people in Antrim and is recognised as among the most progressive and quality conscious businesses of its type in Europe. It operates a purpose-built manufacturing and distribution facility at Antrim. The company, which has won a series of major awards for its commitment to quality throughout the operation, has an extensive portfolio of MDF moulded products.