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Local Resource, Global Platform

Imagine sitting around a table in Germany with Pres. Barack Obama and 11 CEOs from Fortune 500 companies to discuss economic growth promotion. This scenario sounds like a storyline from a primetime business drama, but it was a reality for one of Utah’s small businesses: Kaddas Enterprises.

Kaddas Enterprises is often touted as a Utah success story, and for good reason. You might say this family-owned enterprise is a poster child for showcasing where hard work, vision and help from outside resources can take you.

Founded in 1966, Kaddas Enterprises began in the kitchen oven of John Kaddas, an industrial design graduate from the University of Utah. John was intrigued with the thermoforming process and started making molds and forming parts as a lower-cost solution for companies across many industries.

Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, Kaddas Enterprises is now a leader in thermoform plastic manufacturing. It develops products that range from its patented BirdguarD, used to mitigate animal-caused power outages, to interiors for planes, trains and automobiles.

A small company of approximately 30 employees, Kaddas Enterprises proves that a company does not need to be large to export. In fact, 85 percent of exporters in Utah are small- to medium-sized businesses. There are a multitude of resources available to help these organizations succeed globally, one of which is trade missions.

Natalie Kaddas, CEO of Kaddas Enterprises, attended her first trade mission to Israel in 2013 and had such a positive experience she has since attended many others. The success of her international outreach efforts can be viewed in the company’s bottom line: Kaddas Enterprises’ export business has grown an average of 400 percent every year since 2013. Natalie’s participation in the last two Mexico trade missions resulted in a multiple-year contract with the federal government in Mexico.

The success Kaddas experienced on trade missions also led to an increase in publicity. So when the White House was looking for a small business to participate in a private dinner with President Obama and Chancellor Merkel in conjunction with the Hannover Messe Trade Show, the world’s largest industrial show, they gave Kaddas a call.

The purpose of the dinner was for Chancellor Merkel and President Obama to discuss current events with some of the U.S. companies attending the trade show. Though about 50 percent of the companies exhibiting at the Hannover Messe trade show were small- to medium-sized businesses, Kaddas Enterprises was the one small business invited to attend the dinner. The topics of discussion included the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), global trade, energy and renewable energies, and the migration crisis.

The story of Natalie Kaddas and Kaddas Enterprises is just one example of the benefits of trade missions and other services designed to help companies reach international markets. One of the biggest takeaways of this story is you are never too small to benefit from public and private sector resources that are available to you. Attend a trade mission, receive a complimentary market analysis from World Trade Center Utah, or pay a visit to the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development to inquire about the State Trade and Export Promotion Grant.

Taking that first dip into the international business world may seem scary, but who knows where it could lead you. Not all businesses will get to meet the president, but all companies can expand globally by following the example of Kaddas Enterprises.

Worldview-Derek-MillerDerek B. Miller is the president and CEO of World Trade Center Utah, an organization dedicated to helping Utah companies think, act and succeed globally.