The Korean IT Cinderella has long been waiting for a grand ball where it could be introduced to the people and the world outside of its shell. Cutting-edge IT products of small and medium sized companies were indeed the modern version of Cinderella until KOTRA delivered the news of Buy Korea 2009 Autumn. As CEO Ike Nizam of Master International commented during the interview, "Koreans are very lucky because you have companies like Samsung and LG. Wherever you go, these companies are known as high quality product manufacturers." But, at the same time, because of those companies, small and medium businesses with strong products awaited a fairy Godmother who could give them a single shot to compete in the global market.
All the buyers that the Korea IT Times interviewed at the event floor had one thing in common - they have all been looking for an opportunity to use Korean products to expand the service area for their clients, and they are grateful for KOTRA's invitation and arrangements to help them to get to know about many different Korean companies and their cutting edge products.
After being a huge hit in January, Buy Korea 2009 Autumn hosted 1200 foreign buyers from 72 countries and 2500 Korean sellers. Two companies named Inca Solutions and S&G each signed a US$10 million export MOU with a Taiwanese company, Samtack. In total, six companies signed US$45 million in export deals on the first day of the event. KOTRA predicts that there will be US$500 million worth of deals made at the buyers meeting due to the positive feedback of foreign buyers and the gradual improvement of the world economy. Korean products have strength in their quality and price, yet buyers meetings like this has only been held twice since the IMF crisis ten years ago. The Korea IT Times interviewed global partners and buyers during a lunch break to get some feedback from both Korean products and the event itself.
Master International USA
Master International owns 12 companies in the United States. One of its companies, onlinecompoments.com, is the most successful case of e-commerce in the world, with 50,050,000 available components to be shipped to any place around the world.
Master International also holds 14 branches in the US and distributes to some of the biggest companies in the world such as Tyco, Molex, and Honeywell. In addition, they hold the title of 14th largest distribution center in the US. Masters International's visit to Buy Korea 2009, therefore, was sunshine to Korean components companies.
Non-stop meetings with sellers lasted two days. Over a short lunch break, CEO Ike Nizam stated, "So far, I had meetings with 11 total sellers. I was here to find some cutting-edge components to introduce to our clients, and I saw the possibility with four of the items I learned about at Buy Korea 2009. One of them is fiber optics and the other is connectors. I am going to let my technical people study these products, talk to a few customers, and if it looks good, orders will be placed."
CEO Nizam had a great impression of the event Buy Korea 2009 Autumn. "I like it very much," he said. "It is similar to an annual event, EDS, that is held in Las Vegas in May. Here, buyers talk to suppliers one on one for 50 minute per meeting, and the meeting lasts twelve hours - from seven in the morning to seven in the evening from one site to another. This heavy schedule lasts for 3 days with the presence of 200 suppliers at a high level." He added, "Every year, we take 12-14 employees to this event to meet high class suppliers from all across the country. It is great that now an event like Buy Korea 2009 is available to help us learn all the high-tech products of Korea. Buy Korea 2009 makes business much more convenient and efficient. We already have many suppliers concentrated in Taiwan and China, but had no suppliers in Korea. This event helps us reach that goal."
Flexi Compras USA
Vice President Michael Bieker of Flexi Compras sat in one of the Global Partner booths to meet seller after seller. Flexi Compras has become the fastest growing consumer electronic retailer since its establishment in 2002 with 105 stores in Texas, USA. "We focus on the hispanic market and Samsung, LG, and Sony have already been our good partners," Bieker said. "I had met about ten companies in total until now and the companies like SRI Tech's 1 inch USB external monitor and FAWOO's lighting products really stood out to me." According to Mr. Bieker, differentiation is really big in the United States right now. "For example, I don't want to see the laptop that everyone has. We are not interested in buying the products that most have already seen and heard of. We have a very aggressive growth plan next year. We will expand our stores to North Carolina, Chicago, and Las Vegas, and open more of our stores in top leading consumer electronics retailers like Best Buy and Radio Shack. Here, cutting edge products with competitive quality and price is essential, and from this visit, I learned that Korean products are just much better in both quality and service than some of the other products we've been directly importing from China."
Bieker was passionate in sharing his gratitude for KOTRA's invitation to Buy Korea 2009 Autumn. "In the US, we have a similar event like this held every May in Las Vegas, but this I thought was very remarkable in a sense that buyers stay in one place to get to learn a product. I wasn't crunched for time! I've been to China and Japan a number of times, but it really stood out to me how everyone here was so passionate and communicable. There was no language barrier, and everyone was basically here to do business. KOTRA putting this together serves the need we have in this critical time."
SANA International Commerce USA
SANA International Commerce came to update its company in new technology. As a global multi-functioning company, SANA serves one stop service as manufacturer, supplier, and distributor. "In order to be near our customers, we've been expanding bridge points to South America and Mexico," said Jorge G. Sanchez of SANA International. As a company that has lasted 15 years while focusing mainly on oil, gas, and the marine industry, SANA international recently opened a new branch which gives environmental technology consultations. Alejandro Benavides, company controller, said, "Oil and Gas are energy related, so we are trying to update our company with new technology to promote environmentally-friendly society. Our customers mostly make a special request to us in search of new products and technology. Here, an invitation from KOTRA to visit Buy Korea 2009 was the best opportunity given to us to meet small and medium sized companies in Korea."
By the second day lunch break, SANA has already met 12 companies. SANA International came with a clear vision with the idea of wind power and solar power under a specific goal: make a package deal for its customers. "There is a wind tower selling companies in Spain, but that's basically all they have. We want to put together turbine manufacturers, wind tower producers, and an engineer and ask them to complete a product together in good quality. We found Dongkuk S&C wind towers and Hyosung's turbines very impressive out of all we had meetings with. We also found an engineer at the other exhibition in Busan," Benavides explained.
"The US government offers incentives for people who want to work with new technology. We find that Korea is a highly developed country in terms of technology, and thus we expect high involvement with Korean companies to update our company with the newest technology," said Benavides.
Mr. Sanchez noted about the significance of Buy Korea 2009, "All the world knows Samsung and LG, but not the small and medium businesses in Korea. Today, we met a very strong pollution welding machine. They came to us and showed their passion to reach abroad without marketing through big companies like Hyundai or Samsung. I believe this is the best kind of export opportunity where Korean SMEs can present themselves to launch abroad."