A Shropshire company has seized control of its destiny after sealing its first major overseas order for a revolutionary animal trimmer.
Eddie Palin Distribution, of Market Drayton, has diversified from its core business of supplying electric fencing and accessories, some of which are manufactured on the premises.
Helped by a DTI Smart Award, the Manufacturing Advisory Service, Advantage West Midlands and Business Link West Mercia, the company spent about four years designing a special animal trimmer.
Launched last year, the Maverick is claimed to be the only clipper in the world that moves in an arc, rather than from side to side, with a head that rotates through 180 degrees.
This means it is much easier to clip awkward areas on an animal, such as the legs and underbelly.
Encouraged by the level of interest from customers in the UK, managing director Eddie Palin decided to target
2004. international markets with the Maverick.
The company joined UK Trade & Investment's Passport initiative - a flagship scheme that gives new exporters the training, planning and ongoing support they need to succeed overseas in September
Through Passport, the company has benefited from a package of support, including a free export health check; attending an export workshop; assistance in drawing up an international trade strategy and matched funding to help implement this strategy.
Mr Palin said: "Before
contacting UK Trade & Investment, we dealt with small overseas orders from trade shows, but we didn't export proactively.
"Through Passport funding we went on a market visit to Cologne to meet representatives from Europe's leading distributor of equestrian products, Waldhausen.
"As a result, we have formed a partnership to sell the Maverick clippers in Germany and have just sent out our first consignment to Waldhausen.
"The initial order is worth £12,000 and we are very hopeful that this will lead to many more across Europe - the potential is enormous."
The company has recently taken on two extra staff to deal with the anticipated demand for the Maverick range.
Waldhausen is launching the Maverick next month at the Spoga show in Cologne, which is Europe's largest trade show for equestrian products.
Representatives from Eddie Palin will also be on Waldhausen's stand with a range of accessories for the clippers.
Roger Hunt, technical director at the company, said: "We had been importing clippers for many years and badging them as our own products.
"But we wanted to make our own where we would have control over our own destiny.
"We had been thinking that when you are clipping the legs of a horse, for example, you have to bend over and lift the leg, and it can be quite difficult.
"Then there were lots of wires and you would find it difficult to scrape up the leg.
"The curved blades on the Maverick makes it much easier. Plus we did not want one which ran off the mains, so we created versions with battery backs.
"In a stable you don't want lots of wires and mains leads hanging about."
Mr Hunt said the company has already sold around 600 of the clippers into the UK and has had expressions of interest from the US, Canada, and Australia.
He added: "We assemble the clippers at our site here, but we use a lot of local parts.
"We used some mechanical components from Wolverhampton and some castings from Worcester.
"It is very early days, but we expect to be making about 1,000 a year and increase it in line with our exports."