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It takes a global village to raise a successful export business

It takes a global village to raise a successful export business

To celebrate 30 years of support for the Australian Export Awards, CommBank asks award-winning exporters how they have successfully navigated an ever-changing global trade environment.

From its factories in Australia and Brazil, Noja Power develops, manufactures and supplies its global energy and utilities sector customers in more than 86 countries. As a truly globalised operation, the business is taking full advantage of benefits this can deliver when maintaining and growing a complex supply chain. 

Noja Power’s Chief Executive Officer, Neil O’Sullivan, in part attributes the company’s global success to setting up the business for global citizenship from inception.

“The company’s purpose from the very outset was to service offshore markets, so we consider Noja Power to be ‘born global’,” Neil says.

“Our first sale was an export to China, so we were earning export revenue before even having a footprint in the local market. We are now selling to a global market, globally sourcing components, and we naturally hedge currency exposure – its just part of operating in today’s global village.”

Prior to becoming one of Australia’s leading exporters, Neil recalls tapping into a strong local support network as a smaller company seeking to operate on the world stage. This included Government recognition through its Australian Export Award program, with Noja Power taking out the national honours in 2009.

“Aside from crucial networking and training support, the Export Awards provided a government endorsement for our company and products that was incredibly important as we developed our brand offshore.”

As the business grew from its initial Australian base into such a vast and diverse range of operational hubs and export destinations, understanding its strengths and tapping into local expertise was crucial for Noja Power.

“The first thing anyone planning to export should learn is that you will never be an expert in every culture around the world. I think it’s important to learn and respect other cultures while remembering that you aren’t a local expert.”

For Noja Power this means managing the company’s in-country offices around the world as well as maintaining a strong local distributor network. “They are the experts in the local market - you need to be an expert in your product and in conducting international business,” Neil says.

Beyond this partner network, Noja Power has strategically selected the location of its facilities to allow for an operation that can traverse all time zones and support local market expansion.

“We can manufacture more economically in Australia, but we set up manufacturing operations in other parts of the world to gain more market share. In the case of Brazil, there are very large export duties, and our local operations mean we can be can competitive locally.”

In addition to the corporate headquarters in Australia and factory in Brazil, Noja Power has facilities in Atlanta in the United States, Borne in Germany, Manchester in the United Kingdom and Santiago in Chile.

“Our strategic locations allow us to have an around the clock support network across the world, combined with local distributors in each country. Any company that wants to trade globally, particularly if there is a service and support component, is expected to have a 24/7 approach.”

Operating across so many jurisdictions also means having to manage currency exposure, and Noja Power has developed a natural hedging strategy that ensures its global procurement function operates with minimal currency risk.

“Every year we develop a treasury and budget in every currency we trade in. We then put in place a strategy to procure components in those currencies.

Currently enjoying a heavy growth phase given the rollout of smart energy grids around the world is boosting demand for the Noja Power’s technology, the company remains committed to opening up new export markets. Ultimately, it is carefully managing a global supply chain, tapping support from its partners and strategically managing risk that means Noja Power is well placed to achieve that goal.