GLENS FALLS After talking recently with a local businessman who is successfully marketing American-made products overseas, U.S. Rep. Bill Owens has pledged to sponsor a workshop where area entrepreneurs can learn how to develop foreign trade.
Scott Schwartz, president of Hill Electric Supply Co. took time out of his workday April 23 to describe to Owens how his company has developed a business marketing not only electrical components and fixtures but a wide range of other products to clients in foreign countries.
Hill Electric is known in Glens Falls as an electrical fixture and component supply source for electricians and contractors, but through its overseas trade via the internet, Hill Electric sells a wide variety of goods — from specialized industrial electrical components to toilets, turnstile parts, weed-whackers and tires.
Schwartz told Owens during a tour of his business on Broad St. that his enterprise, founded in 1948, launched a mail-order trade in the 1970s. Then in 1997, the firm started marketing its thousands of products over the Internet. About two years later, overseas contractors began seeking the products in their inventory.
Hill Electric’s business expanded further, when they were recognized as a trusted source providing timely service, Schwartz said. Increasingly, foreign firms asked for a wide variety of goods other than electric supplies, and Hill Electric employees began marketing goods manufactured or sold be other enterprises, said Lori Milford, Director of International Sales at Hill Electric. She and Schwartz noted that many businesses shy away from exporting because processing overseas orders can involve substantial paperwork and understanding of customs laws and procedures.
Schwartz said that attentive customer service including fast, efficient response, quick shipping is what has built his overseas trade to about $2 million annually, with shipments to 50 countries in the last three years.
A lot of the goods ordered get shipped to Canada, Asia, Africa and Europe, Schwartz said. Recently, Hill Electric has shipped a large amount of supplies to a construction company building a sewage treatment plant for a hospital in Bermuda, he added.