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Pat Boland

pat-boland-100aIndustrial cutting tool manufacturer ANCA turns over $160 million a year and has just won exporter of the year. SmartCompany talks to co-owner and founder Pat Boland about being part of the Apple supply chain, surviving multiple recessions and the lack of government assistance for exporters.

Company: ANCA

Name: Pat Boland

Age: 64

Based: Bayswater, Victoria

Position: Co-owner and co-founder with Pat McCluskey

We started in the mid-1970s and it all went fairly well until we hit the recession in about 1981. The reality of business cycles struck us and we didn't get an order for six months. We actually made a decision at the time that we would change the direction of the business.

Australia’s a very small market for technology so we wanted to look for something which we could sell on a global scene.

We won exporter of the year because we actually have a product. But what we're selling is not just manufactured items, we're selling a whole product including the software component, the pre-sales, post-sales support, everything.

I've never found the government support for export assistance to be particularly useful.  Basically, at least in our experience, you really have to do it yourself.

Our first significant market was the US and we had a philosophy that to the Americans, we wanted to appear as an American company. We didn't want to hide that we were Australian, but we wanted the American customers' experience to be as though we were local suppliers: All the post-sales support, training, all that was American. All our salesmen are Americans.

We expect our sales to be slightly less this year. We're seeing significant slowdown in our Chinese market, but we're also seeing significant pick-up elsewhere.

We've opened a significant factory in Thailand and there's free trade agreements between Australia and Thailand so we can supply them goods and they can supply us goods. There's also a free trade agreement between China and Thailand, so we're able to ship goods into China duty free. There's not many free trade agreements between China and the rest of the world, so the one between China and Thailand's been quite significant.

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