Name: Satu Kivelä
Company: Cross Wrap (Siilinjärvi, Finland)
Time exporting: 20 years
Export revenue: €5.4mn (90% of turnover)

GTR: What is Cross Wrap?

Kivelä: Founded in 1994, Cross Wrap is the leading manufacturer for waste bale wrappers and bale openers for the waste industry including RDF, SRF, MSW and other waste materials. We also manufacture automatic board packaging lines for wood-based boards like plywoood, MDF and veneer.

GTR: Was it always Cross Wrap’s intention to export, or did it initially focus on the domestic market?

Kivelä: Yes, from the very beginning we knew that we were going to export our machinery. Even the product development was done outside of Europe when we started. The first markets we exported to were in Europe (Germany, Switzerland, Italy and the Netherlands) and after this Lebanon and the US. We now export to 15 different countries, and altogether machines are delivered to 48 countries.

GTR: What challenges did you face when you started exporting?

Kivelä: Because we were presenting a new method of operating in waste business, the challenge was the introduction of this new method and to convince customers of the advantages of the machinery.

GTR: Did you always use trade finance tools, or did that come later?

Kivelä: Yes, we started to use trade finance tools right away when we started to sell after the research and development period.

GTR: Did you find it easy or difficult to access bank financing for trade initially? What was the process like?

Kivelä: I found it easy. I just contacted our local Nordea bank and they gave me all the connections to their trade finance people. I also had the advantage of having previously worked for years in the financing sector, so financing issues were not very new or challenging. But, of course, the export financing issues were new.

GTR: Do you or would you consider using other sources of trade finance than banks?And if so, which ones?

Kivelä: Yes, we negotiated with trade finance institutions other than banks but these negotiations were not succesful. Their services did not fit to our way of working in exports.

GTR: What are the main challenges you face today in terms of exports (ie: finding new buyers abroad; complying with regulations; securing financing; logistic issues etc)?

Kivelä: All the issues you mention are challenging today because competition is hard. Marketing products that are totally manufactured in Finland are not the cheapest ones so we need to create high quality and an excellent customer experience in order to be competitive.

GTR: What is your plan in terms of exports? If you plan to grow them, what percentage of foreign/domestic sales would you like, and how do you plan to achieve that?

Kivelä: We have seen years when 100% of our sales came from exports. 2015 is an exceptional year: we have been lucky to receive some great orders to deliver our products to some leading companies in the Finnish industry; opportunities we really do appreciate. But, in the long run, the market in Finland is too small. We are growing our turnover by 15% this year, compared to last year. The budget for the next year will be 30% bigger than this year.
We achieve growth by investing in our existing customers and in trade shows and personal sales work globally to find enough new customers. We are very fortunate in that many of our customers are the leading operators in their business areas in their own markets. In 2015, we participated in seven industrial trade shows from Moscow to São Paolo.

GTR: Finally, what is your favourite thing about exporting?

Kivelä: To prove that Finnish sales and marketing people are very skilled, highly motivated and successful working globally!