A women-owned business that writes and sells software for international companies calls the Ozarks home – and new owners have plans for a major upgrade to start the new year.
Export Internet Trade Systems Inc., aka Exits Inc., began in 1993 with a desktop product aimed at helping exporting companies maintain compliance with federal trade regulations. Today, it’s known for its online, cloud-based software for exporters called Global Wizard.
“We’re fool-proofing an area that has a lot of regulatory components to it,” says Exits co-owner Heather Noggle.
The software produces and manages required export documentation automatically from a single data set. It also screens data to ensure exporters aren’t trading with restricted companies or countries.
Export regulations include classifying goods, licensing individual products, securing appropriate government documentation and consistent data and record keeping, she says. The Global Wizard software streamlines and automates these practices to meet current U.S. standards.
The Global Wizard team of five employees – scattered across the country – also provides consulting services and can write custom software programs for customers. The software, Exits’ only product, can range from $1,700 to $5,000 a year, depending on the services provided.
Noggle originally was hired on to a three-month project in 2000 by the company’s previous owners to write the online software. Now, she is co-owner, along with Jayme Untiedt, who worked for Exits with Noggle and is now located in Tampa, Florida. The two bought the company from a group in Connecticut in 2018 for an undisclosed amount.
Noggle says it’s time for a software and company update.
With 2020 quickly approaching, she’s planning to release an updated version of the software that will be more accessible on multiple platforms, including mobile devices, she says.
Exits generated $838,000 in 2018 revenue and is nearing $1 million this year, Noggle says. In 2020, she projects to reach $1.2 million in sales.
Suzuki Motor Corp., Johnson & Johnson, DHL Global Forwarding and Jockey International Inc. are a few of Exits’ 110 clients.
Across the U.S., there are nearly 280,000 exporting businesses, 98% of which are small or midsize companies with fewer than 500 employees, according to Export.gov, a website created by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration.
Exporting is a beast, and it comes with many rules.
Exported goods generated $135.3 billion in October, according to U.S. Census data, and imports were $201.8 billion. That creates a U.S. trade deficit of $66.5 billion, down $4 billion from September’s trade data.
To monitor the commerce, there are regulations from NAFTA, the Export Administration Act, International Traffic and Arms, the Importer Self-Assessment Handbook and Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, to name a few.
“Nobody wants to go to jail,” Noggle says. “Everyone wants to grow their exports. To do that, they have to do it compliantly.”
Untiedt, co-owner of Exits, says U.S. export standards are always changing because of legislation. Untiedt is also the owner of computer software company Cantle Technology Corp. in Florida.
“It’s a very interesting industry. You can learn what the regulations are, and a month later, they change,” she says, pointing to Brexit and the potential 2020 trade deal with China as examples. “That affects how we do business, how we support our customers and how we provide a valuable service to them.”
But the brunt of the changing industry is on Global Wizard’s clients, Noggle says, who receive the financial impact of trade relations.
Jeanette Reed, CEO and president of Massachusetts-based compliance training company Evolution in Business, has worked in export compliance for over 30 years. She says export reforms over the past decade have changed the game.
“Some exported products have been looked at as less critical to our national security,” Reed says. “It’s broadened the reach that U.S. products have without a license, and it makes access to the market greater.”
In response, Reed says companies need to be on top of new rules and can always find ways to increase efficiency.
“You almost have to use (compliance software) because companies today run lean, and this can help you achieve productivity,” she says.
2020 and beyond
As the new year approaches, Noggle says the company will be undergoing major changes planned to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, on top of the investments she’s made to update the software.
Her long to-do list includes releasing the updated software, promoting a marketing campaign, creating a social media presence, adding on employees and opening a headquarters in both Springfield and Tampa. Noggle currently works from home in Brookline, and Untiedt works out of her Cantle Tech Corp. office.
“We bought a company that needed a lot of upgrades,” Noggle says. “Now that we’ve built something new, we are going to do a lot of sales and marketing work.”
Noggle says she hopes a greater social media presence will attract a wider client base, noting many potential clients are located outside of the United States.
DairiConcepts LP is the company’s only local client, but Noggle wants to expand Midwestern clientele, too. She points to northwest Arkansas as a hub of potential exporting activities.
From Florida, Untiedt says she’ll work on acquiring more manufacturing customers in 2020 to expand Global Wizards’ reach.
“We tend to focus more on the companies who already export, whereas we could do so much more in the industry to assist new exporters if we had a larger pool of manufacturers and freight forwarders in the system,” Untiedt says. “We are there and ready, and we’d like to expand and help these businesses.”
A Hollister pub that debuted in 2017 expanded to Springfield; 417 Magazine operator Whitaker Publishing LLC changed ownership; and the Re/Max House of Brokers franchise business was purchased.
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