Founded in 1992 and based in Litchfield, MN, GVL Poly manufactures specialty polyethylene attachments for agricultural machinery. It is widely known for making the world’s first polyethylene corn headers, or “snouts,” which are placed on the front of combines to harvest corn.
GVL Poly had been exporting since 1995, but lacked an export strategy. The company responded to international requests as they came in, but rarely followed up with international customers to encourage long-term relationships. Company executives also found portions of exporting’s practical challenges daunting, particularly when it came to securing the right partnerships to ensure proper payment.
Enterprise Minnesota’s Global Market Strategy service gave the company confidence in dealing with a range of exporting issues like shipping, containers, currency and distribution. Market research also showed GVL Poly which international companies would make the best potential customers, empowering them to be proactive about forging strong international business relationships.
Previously, about 5 percent of the company’s revenues came from international sales, excluding Canada, which GVL has been exporting to for several years due to its proximity to Minnesota. Today, 10 percent of GVL Poly’s revenue comes from non-Canada exports. The company now ships to countries in Europe and South America, and its superior polyethylene corn header has become standard equipment worldwide. GVL Poly has also increased its product demand during historically off-peak times by selling internationally to countries whose growing seasons are different than the U.S. The company’s long-term goal is to generate 50 percent of its revenues from exports.
“We now have solid relationships in several new countries and have the resources here in the U.S. to help us expand to other markets. Our company is growing because we took that first step to becoming knowledgeable about exporting and gaining the confidence to sell internationally.”