Jim Porter, the Trade Services Manager at World Trade Center Utah, says companies looking to expand their business through exporting will see many benefits such as positive economic growth in their communities and greater resiliency. When companies are ready to learn more, start the process, or expand in their current markets, they will find a strong network ready to provide support, including Jim at WTC Utah.
Jim Porter was interviewed by our former Marketing Intern Clayton Chudleigh. Thank you Clayton for all of your contributions to WTC Utah and best of luck in your future endeavors. In this interview between Clayton and Jim, we learn about Jim’s path at WTC Utah from intern to program manager, what his role entails, the benefits of exporting, and how WTC Utah can help businesses realize those benefits.
Clayton Chudleigh: Thank you for taking the time to meet with me via Zoom. Let’s get started by talking about how long you have worked at World Trade Center Utah.
Jim Porter: I’ll have been at World Trade Center Utah four years next Spring. First as an intern, then as the 25,000 Jobs Project Coordinator, and now as Trade Services Manager.
CC: You started working at WTC Utah in 2017. What initially drew you to the organization?
JP: I first learned about WTC Utah through Jessica Larsen, a USU alum, who was the communications director here at the time. I was a Huntsman Scholar at USU while Jessica was working here. As part of that program, we organized a mock interview event and invited Jessica to be one of our interviewers. During the event, we discussed the WTC Utah fellowship program, which then was a one year program. I was excited about working with both industry and government to help businesses export. I had support from a few incredible mentors who strongly encouraged me to apply, which I did.
CC: That’s interesting to hear how you came to apply for the internship. It obviously worked out well for you since a project opened up for you to lead and then you were able to advance your career and become the Trade Services Manager. Could you briefly explain what your current role entails?
JP: I wear a few hats in this position. My primary responsibility is to help Utah companies determine how to export into new markets or how to expand sales in markets they already export to. I do that by providing assessments and training on export-related processes and issues, connecting companies with our broad network of service providers, and providing market research. Additionally, I oversee our rural programs, lead our aerospace and defense projects, and handle IT for the office, including administering SalesForce.
CC: Why should Utah based companies start exporting if they aren’t already?
JP: That’s a great question. The answer that resonates with most companies is that international markets represent new opportunities to grow revenue. If you want your business to grow, you should start looking at international markets. This is a good place to start but is less than the full picture. Exporting will change your business and owners need to consider the less obvious benefits when calculating the opportunity cost of expanding internationally.
A less obvious, but equally important benefit of exporting is that it helps your business build resiliency by diversifying your customer base. The USITC published a report a few years ago that demonstrated greater resilience in small business exporters leading into the Great Recession. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that many companies are too dependent on a few customers or geographies and are very susceptible to economic shocks. Walker Edison is an example of a business that’s been able to be flexible during the trade war and COVID-19 in part because they have diversified sourcing.
I’d also point out that, in the long run, exporting will make your business more competitive. For a number of reasons, companies that export tend to do better domestically than if they don’t export. These businesses learn new information about customers in new markets and discover new innovative ideas from those customers. When your business becomes more competitive, it also creates more high-paying jobs. Exporting small businesses pay something like 13-18% higher wages on average than non-exporting companies. This means you can attract better talent and improve your local community.
CC: It’s great to hear about the community benefits of exporting. Could you tell us where you find the most satisfaction in your job?
JP: I find the most satisfaction in my work when we’ve given critical support to a company that succeeds internationally. Many of these companies are ready to be successful internationally but need a little help to find new deals. Working with companies like DPS Skis and Maxtec has been very satisfying. You begin rooting for the businesses and people who you work with because you get to know them. When companies can succeed internationally because we have provided support through connections or research, that is the best!
CC: Finally, for those who are not yet utilizing all the services of WTC Utah, what do you have to say to motivate them to get started on their international expansion?
JP: For a lot of small businesses that are considering exporting, you have to realize that your number one obstacle is probably yourself. A lot of people don’t know what they don’t know and they think they have to do it alone. That simply isn’t the case. International markets are a lot easier to approach than you think, and there are probably more resources available for businesses that want to export than for businesses that just want to do business in the United States. I strongly encourage you to take advantage of these resources. There is not a stronger community that works better together to help businesses than the trade promotion community.
To learn more about the World Trade Center Utah trade services program and all of our other work, please visit our website. Jim Porter is available by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (435) 512-1890.