Maryland companies participating in a trade fair in the Middle East this week are reporting overwhelming success in the first two days of marketing.
The state Department of Economic and Employment Development said yesterday that Maryland companies have made more than $20 million in firm business deals.
Maryland businesses at the fair in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, had hoped to capitalize on Gov. William Donald Schaefer's trade agreement with Kuwait, but state officials said many of the business deals are coming from other countries in the Middle East.
"The results have been better than anyone expected," said Diego Portieles, director of business development for the Maryland International Division.
"The relationships that are building up as a result of the 'Made in U.S.A.' [fair] will extend far into the future. This is not a one-time event for Maryland companies," he said.
William Touchard, vice president of the Kuwait/Maryland Partnership, which helped organize Maryland's participation in the fair, said, "Just about all the company representatives have been overwhelmed with the interest shown in their products and services."
Peter Dakin, account representative for Scotsman Buildings, a Baltimore producer of factory-built structures, said his company has firm written bid requests for several building projects with values ranging from $2.8 million to $4.7 million. He said nine countries have expressed serious interest in his products.
Among the projects Dakin has discussed are housing for a copper mine camp in Oman and other housing projects and low-cost beach hotels in Kuwait and the Sudan.
"People here are sincerely interested in working with people from the U.S. -- and not just those from Kuwait," said Gus Diakoulas, chief executive officer of Design Resources Center, which provides products and information for architects, engineers and designers.
"We thought the target market was Kuwait, but we very soon realized that all of the countries want the kind of services we provide."
The Baltimore firm has had invitations to set up offices in Dubai and Saudi Arabia as well as in Kuwait, he said.
Mark Snyder, president of Snyder Body Inc., a truck body company in Hampstead, said the fair has been so successful that he will not be able to fulfill all the business orders he's been promised without expansion.
"If only 10 percent of what I have been promised actually happens, I will have to expand my manufacturing capacity to fill the work orders," he said.
Maryland has the largest delegation of companies represented at the trade fair with 15 company representatives. In addition, more than 50 companies have sent literature and marketing materials.
The fair ends tomorrow.