On behalf of my organization, the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, I recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Wellness Information Technology Association based
Profile: In 1902 Luther O. Draper founded Draper Inc., which manufactured window shades for schools for the next 60 years. Today, Draper employs approximately 600 people and continues to sell window shades and they also manufacture a variety of mounts and lifts for audio visual equipment, projection screens and gymnasium equipment. The family-owned company has enjoyed steady growth over the past 114 years and currently sells its products across the United States and in 126 countries around the world.
Trade: Draper’s products serve customers in the commercial audiovisual, residential audiovisual (home theatre), command & control centers, network operations centers, commercial construction, residential construction, and educational construction industries. The company began trading in the Asian markets in the early 1990s and expanded into Korea in the mid-1990s after being approached by a Korean businessman at an audio visual trade show. Before the implementation of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA), Draper’s products faced an 8-13 percent tariff. These tariffs were immediately eliminated with the implementation of the KORUS FTA and Draper’s products are now duty free, which makes them more competitive in Korea.
Growth: Initially, the company’s primary export to Korea was projection screens, however as flat panel TVs have replaced some projectors and screens, trade in screens has slowed. Even with this slowdown, the company’s exports to Korea have grown by 136 percent over the past five years as trade in window shades, gymnasium equipment, and mounts and lifts for projectors and flat panel TVs continues to grow. In recent years, there has been an increased demand in Korea for Draper’s gymnasium equipment including wall pads, gymnasium dividers and EZ fold basketball backstops at U.S. military bases in Korea.
Advice: Roger Lin, Asia/Pacific Regional Manager for Draper recommends regular trips to Korea to solidify business relationships. He notes that across Asia, business relationships tend to be very personal in nature and Korea is no exception. Koreans often want to meet face to face and have a personal connection before striking a deal. Roger also stresses the importance of having a translator who is familiar with your industry so nothing gets lost in translation.
“Koreans are very patriotic and will tend to buy Korean brands unless you can prove to them that your product is of higher quality and value. If they feel that your product is higher quality then they will choose it every time.”
~Roger Lin, Asia/Pacific Regional Manager, Draper Inc.