NASHVILLE—With assistance from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s export program TNTrade, Swiftwick, a leading U.S. producer of athletic compression socks today announced a partnership with Rock Gear Distribution of Blairmore, Alberta, the company’s first Canadian distributor. Rock Gear Distribution (RGD) will provide retailers throughout Canada with full support and stocking for Swiftwick PURSUIT, ASPIRE and Cut-Resistant Hockey Sock lines.
“Swiftwick is a great example of a company that’s taken initiative to explore alternative markets while leveraging the resources newly available from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development,” TNECD Commissioner Bill Hagerty said. “As a business person, I know tackling a new market can consume scarce management time and has the potential to dilute ongoing efforts in the base business. Our goal with the TNTrade program is to minimize the distractions and maximize the effectiveness of Tennessee companies as they explore these meaningful new opportunities. Swiftwick proves you can both be successful domestically and internationally, and I congratulate them on this exciting accomplishment.”
“Canadians have been buying Swiftwick socks online for years, so we could see the opportunity, but international expansion required a goal,” Swiftwick co-founder and CEO Mark A. Cleveland said. “Rather than stumbling around and learning the hard way, we discovered new and creative programs at TNECD that could help us structure our approach.”
TNECD launched TNTrade in February 2013, with the goal of enhancing Tennessee’s global competitiveness through increasing exports by Tennessee’s small-and-medium-size businesses by 10 percent over the next three years. TNTrade seeks to demystify the exporting process, allowing companies to expand their reach around the world without fear of the unknown and take advantage of world-class guidance from domestic and international experts.
The Export Development Program lies at the heart of TNTrade and seeks to identify “export ready” companies across the state and provide them free access to critical services via international export development representatives located in Tennessee and export specialists located in four offices around the world: Mexico, China, the European Union (based in Germany) and the United Kingdom.
TNTrade also offers a series of programs and classes around the state, such as Export 101, covering various topics related to the process of doing business internationally and connects businesses with the right resources.
Swiftwick became involved with TNTrade last year at the very beginning of the program’s launch. Cleveland attended the launch meeting of TNTrade, participated in Export 101 classes and attended the 60th Annual Governor’s Conference on Economic and Community Development. Through this process, Swiftwick was matched up with a TNECD export specialist who was able to walk Swiftwick through the necessary steps to initiate a successful export strategy from beginning to end.
“We needed to make significant changes in our business to create an export opportunity on any scale,” Cleveland added. “For example, we needed to incorporate the French language into our packaging for every line we export. Our production and inventory systems were modified to accommodate new part numbers for identical products. To eliminate the 16 percent import duty, we had to document and prove that our source fibers are 100 percent made in the United States, which qualifies for North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) treatment. Not just making the sock but created with domestically produced textiles. It’s neither easy nor hard; you have to open your eyes to find the expertise and resources. TNECD has been a great partner helping us through the process.”
Rock Gear Distribution serves hundreds of dealers across Canada warehousing a diverse mix of outdoor, running, cycling, sporting goods and travel retailers. The deal with RGD comes after a year of substantial growth for Swiftwick. In 2013, Swiftwick brought in record-breaking revenue with 33 percent overall growth.
Swiftwick is currently working with TNECD export specialists to set up distribution deals in the U.K. and EU.
Founded in 2008, Swiftwick is headquartered in Brentwood, Tenn. The company is a performance sock manufacturer that proudly employs an American workforce in high-quality textile manufacturing. Swiftwick is an innovator in designing and producing superior socks. The company has a culture focused on manufacturing through environmentally friendly means, social responsibility and leading customer service. Learn more at www.swiftwick.com.
About the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development
The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s mission is to develop strategies, which help make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs. The department seeks to attract new corporate investment in Tennessee and works with Tennessee companies to facilitate expansion and economic growth. Find us on the web: tn.gov/ecd. Follow us on Twitter: @tnecd. Like us on Facebook: facebook.com/tnecd.