Nutworks Director Keith Ryan , economist Tim Harcourt and Sunshine Coast Council economic development manager Paul Martins.
Nutworks Director Keith Ryan , economist Tim Harcourt and Sunshine Coast Council economic development manager Paul Martins. Warren Lynam

Free training to boost Coast's exporting capabilities

FORTY Coast businesses will be sponsored by council to complete a $1500, 10-hour training program aimed at helping them export or export better.

Council's new Export and Global Capability Program was launched at Yandina company Nutworks last week.

Under the program, council will sponsor two intakes of 20 businesses for the three-month course.

"This is an economy bigger than Iceland, Papua New Guinea and Fiji combined and the regions are where a lot of the economic prosperity will be found in Australia," former Austrade economist and now UNSW Business School lecturer Tim Harcourt said.

"We talk a lot about the mining boom, we want to talk about the dining boom.

"There's some great fine food exporting to the world and as the middle class grows in China, India and Indonesia, these types of companies (Nutworks) will be very important."

Council's economic development manager Paul Martins said the Coast was well placed to export food, education, recruitment, tourism and training to the world.

"South-East Asia offers some great opportunities," Mr Martins said.

"There is China, as well Singapore and Malaysia, but really the world is our oyster. America offers some great opportunities."

Nutworks director Keith Ryan said his company at Yandina was doing well from exports, sending products all over the world and soon to open its own shop in China.

"There seems to be a real trend in Asia with the new middle class to buy Australian products, and we are ideally placed," he said.

"We've got a great story. This is where the macadamia was first discovered.

"But people aren't just buying a macadamia nut, they are buying the clean, green product and it has a story to the land as it's native to the Aboriginal people."

He said exporting could be daunting, frustrating and slow but the rewards were "well worth it".

"Get a story, make sure you're not just selling a product. You're selling a concept and you must have a point of difference.

"Then be very patient and be on very good terms with your bank manager."

All Terrain Warriors sales director Bret Lashmar said exports had driven company growth into other, bigger markets of the world. Its 4x4 motorhomes and buses are popular in America, Europe, Asia and Africa.

"Research before you jump in and if we can work with a company on the ground, it's a lot easier than trying to work remotely from Australia," he said.

ATW has been exporting for two years and had to significantly restructure its business to adapt.

"We had some problems with a product that is not easy to export," Mr Lashmar said.

"So we developed a system that can be containerised, so it can be sent overseas and skilled labour is not needed to put the bus bodies on to the back of local trucks.

"That keeps costs down.

"It took three years of development and another 12 months to get it ready for sale.

"But the market in Australia for our product is only finite. It was always going to be to saturation point at some stage.

"So we needed to develop a product we could export easily so the company could grow."

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