Stepping up efforts to win business in Kuwait, Marylan companies will exhibit goods ranging from poultry to dredging ,, equipment at an American products trade show this week in the United Arab Emirates.
About 25 Maryland businessmen are in Dubai to market their goods in an effort coordinated by the Kuwait Maryland Partnership, said William Touchard, the organization's vice president. In addition, the products of another 25 state companies are being marketed by members of the partnership, who are distributing company brochures and leaflets.
The Maryland International Division, an agency under the Department of Economic and Employment Development, is assisting with the five-day trade show by briefing company representatives on market conditions in the Middle East and helping to make travel and hotel arrangements. Trade specialists with the division also are at the show to help state companies. Maryland is leasing two booths at the fair.
The show, which is sponsored by the U.S. Commerce Department, is designed to market American products to companies and governments in the Middle East. Planning for the fair began during the war in the Persian Gulf when it became evident that Kuwait would need goods and services to recover from the destruction. About 350 companies are represented at the show.
"Things are starting to move now," said Touchard.
So far, 741 Maryland businesses have contacted the partnership with an interest in working in Kuwait, he said.
One Maryland company, the P.T. O'Malley Lumber Co. on North Point Boulevard in Baltimore, already has sold goods to Kuwait. Last week the company shipped 11 truckloads of hardwood blocks worth $30,000 that will be used to aid reconstruction of pipelines. H. Denis Hormes, general manager of the lumber company, said an agent in the Middle East secured the agreement with a contractor doing business in Kuwait. More negotiations are in progress for future business, he said.
Touchard said he wants to enter Kuwait while he's in the area and attempt to set up an office there to make it easier to coordinate business deals. His efforts have the
backing of Kuwait's U.S. ambassador, who signed a trade agreement May 3 with Gov. William Donald Schaefer.
Local businesses are betting the agreement will give Maryland an advantage other states do not have. Under the terms of the agreement, which the governor has not released, the Kuwaiti officials are to notify U.S. companies doing business with Kuwait that they should ship their products through Baltimore whenever possible.
Touchard said he expects to come home late next week with purchase orders in hand.
Doris Powers is one of the Maryland business owners hoping that the response will be quick. Powers' company, Shielding Technologies Inc. of Aberdeen, produces shields that would protect ordnance workers from being harmed while attempting to remove land mines and unexploded bombs.
Powers said she believes the next six months are critical to her business prospects in Kuwait because cleanup efforts are now under way. Hers is one of the companies that will be represented at the trade show.
"I cannot wait six months. I cannot wait three months. I need to be there now," she said.
The shielding her company is trying to market was developed by the U.S. Army during the 1970s. Her company currently holds the exclusive license for the product. Powers believes two items her company designs could be especially useful in Kuwait. One is a mobile container that can be used to haul unexploded ordnance to a location where it can be safely detonated. Another is a shield that protects ordnance workers when they fire at a land mine and detonate it in unpopulated areas.
Ellicott Machine Corp., the Baltimore manufacturer of Powers' products, has agreed to present information on Shielding
Technologies at the trade show while making its own pitch for the company's dredge equipment.
Charles Sinunu, international sales manager with Ellicott Machine's Mud Cat Division, said he hopes to sell dredgers that will be able to clean the oil-soaked sands now lying in shallow water in the Persian Gulf.
"We are the leader in the industry," Sinunu said. The company has sold overseas before, and he pointed out that Ellicott Machine dredgers helped cut the Suez and Panama canals.
Joseph Prosser, president of the Prosser Co. in Baltimore, is hoping to sell modular chemical-processing plants to Kuwait.
"It's apparent to us that working in Kuwait is very difficult. Therefore, building a modular plant in another country gives them the opportunity to do highly technical work," he said.
Even chickens will be represented at the trade show. Millard Findler, president of Dover Poultry Co. in Baltimore, is sending one of his company representatives to the show to market the company's poultry products.
A significant order from Kuwait could help rescue the company, which has not had chickens to process in the past six months. Dover Poultry processes chickens slaughtered after their egg-laying performance has slackened. Such chickens, normally used for soups and other prepared foods, could fit the needs of the Kuwaitis, Findler said.
Findler said he has been in contact with the government of
Kuwait about supplying chickens to the country. "They want to get stuff moving fast," he said.
Louis J. Grasmick Lumber Co. Inc. is looking to market lumber in Kuwait. The 40-year-old firm for years was a major supplier of lumber to Baltimore's maritime industry and now supplies lumber to a number of other industries.
"We're looking forward not only to exploring markets over there but also looking into joint-venture operations there," said Grant Grasmick. "We think the potential is enormous. Everyone is talking about it being a five- to 10-year commitment."