September 2011 Newsletter

Casting Off

By Gary A. White, President, P’Chelle International

A Most Unusual Trade Mission

[caption id="attachment_266" align="alignright" width="265"]Our_Al_Boat_Trade_Mission_friends LEFT TO RIGHT: ANGELA TURRIN (MADRID, SPAIN), FELIX HAPPE (FRANKFURT, GERMANY), KAREL VANTOMME (BRUSSELS, BELGIUM) AND BERRIN ERTURK (IZMIR, TURKEY)[/caption]

Trade missions come and trade missions go. Some are very successful, some just okay and some, well, probably best forgotten. Most trade missions are cast in a very predictable mold, held in big cities, featuring big city amenities and city fathers (and mothers) wearing their best and reciting the appropriate words to welcome guests from the other side of some large body of water. Everyone is businesslike and formal (stuffy comes to mind). But, I just experienced a most unusual trade mission that broke that predictable mold, in fact shattered it into microscopic pieces.

On September 7th, 8th and 9th, 2011 four European U.S. Commercial Service Trade Specialists visited rural Lewiston, Idaho and Clarkston, Washington to begin a business relationship with participants in the Snake River Boat Builders Export Program. Like any good story, the characters in this one are amazing: Karel Vantomme (Brussels, Belgium), Felix Happe (Frankfurt, Germany), Angela Turrin (Madrid, Spain) and Berrin Erturk (Izmir, Turkey). I have never met a better group. I would like to say they have been dreaming about visiting the Valley since they were little tikes. The truth is, they had never heard of the Valley and it’s amazing welded-aluminum jet boat industry until a few short months ago. Today, they are believers, preaching the word about these amazing boats and their potential in Europe.

[caption id="attachment_267" align="alignleft" width="265"]boat_inspection LEFT TO RIGHT: FELIX HAPPE (FRANKFURT, GERMANY), KAREL VANTOMME (BRUSSELS, BELGIUM), BERRIN ERTURK (IZMIR, TURKEY), ANGELA TURRIN (MADRID, SPAIN) AND JOE SILKOWSKI (PHANTOM MIL/PRO)[/caption]

The first two days were spent visiting the boat factories, seeing product being manufactured and networking with company management. On the third day, well, things loosened up a bit. It was time to see the boats in action! This, of course, necessitated a reconnaissance trip in a helicopter to “scope out the territory”, followed by a jet boat trip up two historic rivers, the Snake and Salmon (the River of No Return….fortunately, we did) to explore the incredible Hells Canyon.

Yes, jet boats on white water, amazing weather and wildlife seldom seen outside of a big city zoo. I want to thank the Lewis Clark Valley Chamber of Commerce for the incredible weather and the Hells Canyon Visitor Bureau for arranging the logistics (including a delectable picnic lunch and a herd of Big Horn Mountain Sheep grazing along the river bank……not sure how they arranged this, but good job).

The Hells Canyon trip was followed by attendance at the Lewiston Round-up. You got it buck-a-roo, a real slice of Americana; cowboys, cowgirls, wild bulls and crazy horses. What’s a trade mission in the U.S. without a rodeo? The trade mission was a major piece of the Snake River Boat Builders Export Program 2011, combined with CE Mark consulting and certification, all geared toward exhibiting in the second annual Snake River Boats Pavilion at boot Düsseldorf, January, 2012 in Düsseldorf, Germany. Each of the visiting Trade Specialists, recruited by Janet Bauermeister, U.S. Commercial Service/Spokane, is tasked with recruiting a minimum of six boat importing companies from their respective countries to boot Düsseldorf 2012.

[caption id="attachment_268" align="alignright" width="265"]friends_on_a_trade_mission LEFT TO RIGHT: BERRIN ERTURK (IZMIR, TURKEY), KAREL VANTOMME (BRUSSELS, BELGIUM), ANGELA TURRIN (MADRID, SPAIN) AND FELIX HAPPE (FRANKFURT, GERMANY)[/caption]

Two amazing communities whose warmth and hospitality cannot be matched, four great European Trade Specialists (and now friends) who were delightful to work with and eight welded-aluminum jet boat manufacturers on the brink of European export success add up to a most unusual trade mission.