A Walsall saddle maker is showing that traditional industries can survive and thrive by increasing its exports to more than 95 per cent of its sales.
Ryder Saddlery, of Navigation Street, specialises in high quality saddles, which are all individually hand crafted from natural materials using traditional skills.
Managing director Glen Farnell set up the company, which now has eight employees, in 1992.
In 2002, he turned to UK Trade & Investment for strategic help in developing his export business.
UK Trade & Investment's services in the Black Country are delivered through the Black Country Chamber & Business Link, which has a full range of business support services including advice and information on business start-up, growth, information technology and workforce development.
Ryder Saddlery joined UK Trade & Investment's flagship Passport scheme and benefited from a package of support, including a free business health check; attending an export workshop; assistance in drawing up an international strategy and matched funding of up to £3,000 to help implement this strategy.
It also recieved quality training and mentoring advice; access to the full range of UK Trade & Investment services, government funding and membership of Midlands World Trade Forum, the regional export club.
The company completed the scheme six months ago.
Through Passport, Ryder Saddlery received funding to showcase its products to an international audience at the King of Prussia exhibition in Philadelphia, which is the US's premier show for English style saddles and other equestrian goods, over a four-show period.
Mr Farnell said: "When we first contacted UK Trade & Investment, we weren't exporting at all. Now, we are selling more than 95 per cent of our saddles to customers in the US, Germany, Holland, Russia, Korea and South Africa.
"Our largest market is the US, which accounts for about 40 per cent of our exports across 16 states.
"As well as providing financial support for us to exhibit in Philadelphia, UK Trade & Investment has given us excellent advice, training and mentoring.
"We finished the Passport programme about six months ago and are continuing to work with our international trade adviser, Paul Keeling."
Ryder Saddlery is continuing to attend the twice-yearly King of Prussia exhibitions with Walsall Equestrian Society, which has taken groups of Walsall horse tack makers out to the shows since 2001.
Mr Keeling, based at Black Country Chamber & Business Link, said: "The company is a great example of how enthusiasm, commitment and a willingness to work with UK Trade & Investment can deliver tangible results in overseas markets."