South Korean and Irving companies create new partnerships for growth

0
Hosang Lee, President of Gajeon, inc., a Korean biometric security systems company, greets Deborah McVean, the City of Irving's M/WBE (Minority/Women Business Enterprise) Programs Coordinator. Photo by Phil Cerroni.

Hosang Lee, President of Gajeon, inc., a Korean biometric security systems company, greets Deborah McVean, the City of Irving’s M/WBE (Minority/Women Business Enterprise) Programs Coordinator. Photo by Phil Cerroni.

Korean firms seek Texas distributors for their products at meeting

A delegation of five South Korean companies from Sewon, also known as Samsung City, spent two days in the Vault Conference Center at the Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce amid a mad rush of corporate speed dating in order to develop meaningful business associations with North Texas companies.

“They’re looking to establish a relationship to be able to sell product here. In other words, they want to export their products from Korea to Texas, and they’re looking for the best ways, channels of distribution, potential clients, customers or distributors,” said Joe Chapa, the Executive Director of the International Trade Development & Assistance Center.

The format was simple: sit Korean representatives and their products at a table and bring in a continuous procession of local companies for 20 minute interviews. The goal was to pair five American companies with each foreign one. Wanting to capitalize on international trade, especially within the context of the Sister Cities program, the Irving Chamber in association with the Greater Dallas Korean American Chamber of Commerce (GDKACC) has spent the past year connecting local business owners with likeminded businessmen overseas through multiple trade missions from both the US and Korea. These connections help make “a positive economic impact from international activities and transactions, so to the extent that we can help Irving-based companies export and import, do business overseas, it will help them grow and create employment,” Chapa said.

“(We) advertise (the) DFW area, how they can do business well here, the business(es) that are booming here. From Samsung City, we have a lot of companies…DFW is a logistics hub. You can pretty much go anywhere in the US in two or three hours,” said Sean Kang, the GDKACC’s Executive Director.

The DFW area affords Korean companies a strategic foothold in the US by affording them access to free trade zones and ample warehouse space.

“Nowadays, deliver (is) the key factor to have these customers satisfied; moreover, the companies’ suppliers have a tendency to dispatch an item to the air freight (location, and) at that point, DFW (and) this area has a strong point,” said KT Lee, the Coordinating Officer for Suwon City Government’s Business Support Division.

Although large companies like Exxon Mobile and some very small companies know how to navigate the international import/export business, Chapa said mid-sized companies in the area are, on the whole, ignorant of the process.

“If I go to XYZ Company here in Irving, (and) they’re producing some kind of a product they’re distributing here in the US, they may not understand the potential that exists to sell their product in overseas markets,” he said. “When I meet with these companies, then I try to ease their mind, and bring context and relationships to them that can help them identify the opportunity and also the process.”

In order to facilitate partnerships between individual companies, the Irving and Korean chambers entered into what Chapa called a key strategic partnership, signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in which both sides agree to cooperate on culture, trade and investment. The Korean Chamber used their contacts in Asia to facilitate a trade mission from North Texas to Korea, where the Irving Chamber signed an MOU with the South Korean city of Inchon.

Lee succinctly summarized the trade mission’s scope:

“Rome was not built in a day, as you know, so we step-by-step get to know each other….and (for) the second step and they (Korean companies) come again…and finally they’re inviting the north Texas companies as a friend. They might be falling in love with each other; they make a deal…for reciprocal, bilateral success,” Lee said.