As this busy year ends, my shoulders can finally start to relax. It’s a very natural time to reflect on the year’s activities and look ahead to 2020.
For me personally, the year encompassed completing my MBA in May, followed shortly thereafter with my wedding in June. With no time for a deep breath, I then moved to Norway, complete with its own set of work and visa related technicalities and set up an international office in my new hometown of Stavanger.
This was the first time in the 35 years that QualiTru has led a concentrated effort in building our international presence. We brought on new partners in Italy, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Poland and solidified collaboration in the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, Japan, Australia and Canada.
Additionally, we participated in studies for line sampling for US and Argentinian farms, supported the development of international sampling guidelines and truck sampling trials in Ireland. It was a very productive year.
While these efforts are certainly worth celebrating, the biggest accomplishment for me was developing the comfort in humility and drive to ask for help.
As a small, family business that fills a niche in the food safety industry, it is no simple task to find partners that are driven by the same values. Then add in the cultural dimensions and regionally unique regulatory requirements of the international market.
There is no way we would have connected with our new partners without asking for constant feedback and referrals. I have been humbled by the support we’ve received from new partners seeking to develop new port configurations to support expanding our presence in new markets. I am also thankful to our internal team back in the US for their support in taking tariff and international shipping courses.
One of the year’s surprises has been how small the European network is. We have Scandinavian distributors sharing colleagues contact information for new regions to represent and engineering companies making introductions to new networks. A simple question leads to multiple introductions and new sampling applications.
Looking ahead to next year, there are another five regions where we hope to make new connections. Luckily, we now have a strong network and an internal team that is expanding its skills. At this time next year, it is hard to know what the biggest accomplishments will be, but we can be confident that we are asking the right questions with some great partners.
The first year of a concerted effort in the international market has been a growing and learning experience. The support of partners has made my work a real blessing and confirms that the company I represent is really making a positive impact.