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Exports on the move statewide

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Fourth-quarter 2010 exports in Missouri increased more than 16 percent compared to third-quarter 2010, capping a strong year, according to data released last month by Missouri Economic Research and Information Center.

Annual exports climbed 35 percent to $12.9 billion in 2010, according to the report.
Nearly every Missouri export category increased last year, led by sharp gains in transportation equipment, $3 billion; chemicals, $2.7 billion; and machinery, except electrical, $1.4 billion. Transportation equipment gains were driven by a 94 percent increase in aerospace exports, while a 57 percent increase in basic chemicals was the primary driver in chemical exports, the top two Missouri exports in 2010.

SRC Holdings Corp. CEO Jack Stack believes the Missouri trend is a sign of increased exporting nationwide.

Speaking at the Missouri Council on Economic Education on Feb. 8 at University Plaza Hotel, Stack expressed optimism regarding the export market in America, saying global agriculture shortages make export growth ideal.

“I have a really strong belief that we are going to be seeing more in-sourcing in the United States,” Stack said. “We used to buy a lot of components from China, and China was doing a lot of the manufacturing and importing into here. I think we’re going to be importing those jobs back to America.”

The prices of components coming out of China and other countries are escalating, said Stack, who has lead 17 business units under SRC Holdings to produce more than $300 million in annual sales across a variety of industries, according to www.srcreman.com. One unit, Springfield Remanufacturing Co., comprises 12 employee-owned subsidiaries that remanufacture equipment for the agricultural, industrial, construction, truck, marine and automotive markets.

“America is now being looked at as a least-cost producer,” he added. “I think the world outside of here is seeing significant inflation. Cost structure will drive U.S. manufacturers to produce more here.”

For one Springfield business, as with many others, exporting its products has been made possible because of the Internet. Altec Solutions Group founder Michael Van Matre has shipped computer parts and products worldwide since opening in 2001.

“Because of our Web presence, we carry certain computer equipment (for which) international shipping costs are so low there is a demand overseas,” Van Matre said.

About 15 percent of Altec’s revenue – which totaled $2.2 million in 2010, according to Springfield Business Journal’s Dynamic Dozen awards (see the special publication inside) – now comes from exporting overseas, which Van Matre warns does have its obstacles.

“You have to research the item – what it is, the origin of the manufacturer,” Van Matre said. “You have to check with State Department and find out what’s allowed in certain countries.”

Some countries don’t accept items made outside the U.S. borders, he said.

“We’ve had our share of ups and downs with that,” Van Matre said. “We’ve learned lessons through it. We’ve had some equipment that wound up in places we didn’t know it was headed to and had State Department call us on it.”

Stack believes inflation and other issues in China could be beneficial for U.S. exports.

“China is coming to the realization that their phenomenal growth is taking a real strain on its resources,” Stack said. “It’s creating significant pollution problems and environmental problems. What we’re beginning to see is really high prices on component parts coming from overseas. We’ll be doing more manufacturing here, we’ll continually see more demand, and we will see more manufacturing opportunities.”

As that demand grows, companies like Altec will work to fill the need.

“There’s always a need for technology that’s one to two generations old,” Van Matre said. “You see a lot of these countries out there that are starving for the equipment. With the availability to get that stuff shipped internationally, it’s become affordable for them to buy now.”[[In-content Ad]]

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