With state help, a Northwood company takes on Europe
Nearly 20 years ago, Bob Markarian started the Architectural Resources Center in Northwood, a firm that manufactures and sells custom and stock window and door hardware for historic buildings. It’s a small company, with just seven full-time employees, but it’s highly respected. In fact, ARC custom hardware can be found in the White House and U.S. Capitol, Treasury and Old Executive Office buildings in Washington, D.C., in the state capitols of a dozen states, as well as in Carnegie Hall in New York City, the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina and the homes of a number of celebrities. The next famous historic building to feature ARC custom hardware may be in Europe. On Feb. 3, when the first shipment of the company’s goods arrived in the Netherlands, ARC entered the European market - a move it made thanks, in part, to the help of New Hampshire’s International Trade Resource Center and the New Hampshire European Logistics Center. To Markarian, doing business in the Netherlands seemed a natural extension of his longtime affinity for the country. “I’ve visited the Netherlands many times; it’s an easy country to get to know because everyone speaks English as a second language. I really admire the intelligence of the Dutch, and I love the architecture and history there.” Markarian said he felt his products would find a natural market in Europe, where there are so many historic buildings and a commitment to historic preservation. Still, he said, getting everything in place to do business an ocean away from Northwood was a daunting task. But Markarian found the help he needed from the ITRC and its director, Dawn Wivell, and Anka Jacobs, the agency’s executive training manager, when he decided to participate in a Europe trade delegation. “When Dawn and I put together the consortium of companies that provide the New Hampshire European Logistics Center services, we knew it was important for the program to be able to work for companies of any size,” said Jacobs. “Small- and medium-size businesses, in particular, don’t generally have the resources to be able to do this on their own -- it’s simply too time-consuming -- and it requires such specialized knowledge and relationships. We wanted to make sure the system would be easy to use, highly efficient and cost-effective, so small New Hampshire companies like ARC can get out there and compete in the European market.” The system is an easy one, according to Jacobs. A container is dropped off at Markarian’s New Hampshire warehouse, where it is loaded, then delivered to DAMCO Sea & Air in Montreal for transatlantic shipment to the Netherlands. There, Road Air picks up the shipment, handles local customs and delivers it to the warehouse, where the contents are unpacked for reshipment to the company’s European clients. The other partners with ITRC in the New Hampshire European Logistics Center -- Sadler Insurance of Nashua and Sheehan Phinney Bass + Green of Manchester -- provide insurance and legal assistance, while the state’s commercial consul in the Netherlands also is available to assist companies. ARC also saves money and time by shipping large quantities of its products via container; and orders sent to European clients can be processed, shipped and delivered within a day or two from the Netherlands. According to Jacobs, companies taking part don’t need to make big changes in how they do business -- they simply add a new piece of software to manage the sales, shipments and any returns of their inventory. “This system is set up to handle virtually any type of business except hazardous materials, and we even have a separate warehouse for medical products,” she said. “Europe could be a tremendous market for some of our New Hampshire medical products companies.” Markarian, who now spends up to two months at a time in the Netherlands, has high praise for the ITRC staff and its partners in the European Logistics Center. From his apartment in Amsterdam, with its view of the nearby warehouse, he said, “I don’t think we could have entered the European market without their team’s help. It’s not just about getting a system in place; it’s about all the emotional support they provided. I know we’ll continue to work with them as we expand our markets even further.” This article was provided by the state Department of Resources and Economic Development. For information on ITRC and the New Hampshire European Logistics Center, contact Dawn Wivell or Anka Jacobs at 334-6074 or visit exportnh.com.