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News - Alberta Export Awards

18 Apr


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The 2016 nomination phase is now open!

April 18, 2016 | By | No Comments

Did you know?

Canada exports over 75% of its overall exports to the US. And with a low Canadian dollar, this means more export opportunity.

Exporting is crucial to our national growth and prosperity.

Does your company export products, services or technology? If so, this is your opportunity to be recognized with a notable Alberta export award! We invite you to share your export success story and apply for an award.

Not exporting? We want you to play a part in Canada’s export success and Nominate a company that you think is demonstrating export excellence. Let’s encourage and help promote the businesses that are making such a positive contribution to the economy.

Nominators and nominees will be invited to the awards gala in December in Edmonton, Alberta where the winners in the following categories will be awarded!

04 Mar


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Nominations for the 2016 Alberta Export Awards

March 4, 2016 | By | No Comments

Nominations for the 2016 Alberta Export Awards will begin April 2016. Please check back to nominate yourself or another company and share your export success story!

08 Dec


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Congratulations to our 2015 Alberta Export Winners!

December 8, 2015 | By | No Comments

Our 2015 Winners, awarded at the December 3rd gala are:

* Manufacturing: Katch Kan Ltd.

Finalists included: CoolIT Systems and Streamline Automation

* Oil & Gas Service/Supply: Absolute Completions Technologies

Finalists included: Katch Kan Ltd. and Nelson Environmental Remediation Ltd.

* Clean Technology: Nelson Environmental Remediation Ltd.

Finalist included: Nemalux LED Lighting

* Consumer Products: Champion Petfoods

Finalists included: CoolIT Systems and Garnet Instruments

* Agriculture Food & Beverage: Beary Berry Honey

Finalist included Cru Juice

* Professional Services: Streamline Automation

Sphere Management Group/Kaizen Institute Canada

* Advanced Technology & Innovation: CoolIT Systems

Finalists included: Nanalysis Corp. and Katch Kan Ltd.

* Emerging Exporter: Nanalysis Corp

Finalist included: EMSCAN and Nelson Environmental Remediation Ltd.

* International Business Studies Student: Awarded to Andrew West, a Business Economics student with a major in Law and minor in International Business, from the University of Alberta.

*Leadership: Jim RaKievich, President and CEO of McCoy Global

Exporter of the Year was awarded to CoolIT for being a global leader in direct contact liquid cooling for the data centre and desktop markets. With over 50 patents and more the two million liquid cooling units sold and deployed word wide, CoolIT has made significant exporting impact around the world. More information on the national awards program and the winners can be found at

The Value of Cross-Cultural Competence for your next Export Market

November 24, 2015 | By Alpha Global Experts | No Comments

The Value of Cross-Cultural Competence for your next Export Market


Culture has increasingly become the buzzword in this era of Globalization: we talk about “cultural sensitivity”, “cultural integration”, “cultural awareness” and so forth. We also talk about the importance of “corporate culture” and communicating and harnessing this culture to attract and retain employees that are the best fit within our organizations.


But what is culture really? And why is it so important for companies engaged international exports of goods and services?

Culture is a shared system of meanings and patterns of behavior. It is expressed in the solutions that people have chosen when solving dilemmas in the areas of human relationships, time management and dealing with our external environment. Cultural diversity expresses itself in viewpoints and values, in operational priorities and in ways of working and can have a significant impact on your business. Let’s take for example, the meaning of a contract. In some parts of the world signing a contract is a door opener that serves as a start to further negotiations on how business will be done. In contrast, most North American companies would understand a signed contract to mean the deal has been sealed and the relationship going forward to be dictated by the parameters agreed to in the contract.  Understanding how to navigate these viewpoints and values can mean a lot to the bottom line and determine how you maximize on export opportunities.

When business and culture clash – culture always wins!

Whether within our organizations or with clients, at some level or another we all interact in multicultural environments that need to be managed – even at a subconscious level.  Two of the world’s top experts on Cross-Cultural studies, Fons Trompenaars and Charles Hampden-Turner, have spent over 25 years researching, analyzing and working on culture and its implication on business. They have developed an in-depth methodology of reconciling cultural differences with business solutions in mind. Their work has shown that in order to successfully collaborate in a multi-cultural environment, individuals first need to be aware of their own personal cultural preferences, are able to respect the cultural perspectives of others, and are capable of reconciling the cultural value differences they encounter and finally realize the envisioned, integrated solutions. Essentially, seek first to understand, then to be understood.

Today, the reasons why companies expand into global markets are changing. While it used to be that companies looked to cheaper markets abroad for lower production cost, today the main driver is access to larger markets and driving innovation in the local market.

When companies decide to expand into new markets, they can raise the capital, put teams in place and build the infrastructure in less than a year, or mere months. Many companies scope out opportunities in foreign markets by sending key executives to gather information, test the waters, find partners and identify joint ventures or targets for a merger or acquisition. Others don’t even bother with elaborate strategy and use online channels to sell directly to end users in one or more markets.

But just because a company has built up global operations, it does not automatically follow that it has a global outlook. Mindsets don’t change that quickly and building a multinational organization to manage export footprint can be more challenging than it appears. In reality, “multinational” really means “multidimensional.” With this comes the need of having to focus simultaneously on far-ranging markets and customers, a diverse workforce, efficient and adaptable supply chains, competitors and relationships with governments and communities at all levels. It also means having to remain flexible in times of adversity and change.

To succeed in this complex environment, companies must look for new perspectives to stimulate innovative thinking. To be successful internationally, they must learn how to operate across different business and economic environments and understand how to balance autonomy with control. And they must do all this swiftly and decisively.

Cultural issues have a lasting effect and can assume huge significance in any cross-national business endeavor, yet they are all too frequently not taken into consideration next to legal, financial and operational obstacles when closing a deal. For instance, up to 70% of mergers and acquisitions fail to meet the objectives or expected benefits, because there wasn’t adequate attention placed on the cultural aspects of the integration after the deal is closed.

It is possible to secure significant business benefits during an integration by embracing culture at an early stage and by actively creating a new high performing culture focused on shared values and reconciled differences. Culture defines the context in which people leverage their energies in order for the organization to deliver optimum results. This human element often explains what distinguishes the highest performing companies from those that lag behind. High performing companies are those that ensure that business operations, management, strategy, culture and people are fully aligned. Engaging the human factor in an integration program will lead to accelerated growth on a personal and team level resulting in raised and sustained performance in the new organization. Whether dealing with corporate or national culture, all businesses have to navigate the complexities arising from the diversity inherent in our global markets.

So what are, then, the implications for business that justify an investment in cross-cultural training?

Preparing your people before entry into new markets reduces risk and increases success rates of forming lasting joint ventures, partnerships and the integration after a merger or acquisition. By understanding who we are and how we see the world, and at the same time respecting and reconciling the cultural value differences we encounter, we can grow beyond compromise to enable and nurture true innovation in our export markets. This approach goes way beyond the old adage of “When in Rome, do as the Romans”. By avoiding mere compromise and embracing “and/and” or, ideally, “through/through”, companies are able to realize tangible benefits for their businesses:

  • Teams learn to appreciate and reconcile cultural differences, and know when to tolerate contradictions and when to reject them.
  • Executives can consult more effectively with diverse management teams to understand the implications of headquarters-based decisions on other markets.
  • Cross-cultural competence ties together corporate and national culture and helps strengthen the link between company values and employee behavior.
  • A global mindset on the executive level allows for an increase in the diversity of management teams so that they better reflect the breadth of the company’s geographical footprint.
  • It allows executives to express their diversity rather than conform to a homogenous corporate culture.

Risk and expenditure are reduced significantly in export projects where there is effective development of intercultural competence in the leadership and operational teams on the ground where necessary. Overall, companies who have successfully built and harnessed cultural competence for the markets they do business in enjoy increased employee satisfaction, reduced turnover and increased organizational effectiveness. In addition, companies can expect substantial and sustainable returns to come from personal and professional growth of its workforce as a result of the productive cross-cultural relationships formed.

Achieving cross-cultural competence is about you and your organization. It is about your leadership, management and your people, individually and in groups.

Michele Hecken & Usukuma Ekuere, Founding Partners of Alpha Global Experts Inc.



12 Nov

By HSBC Bank Canada

Four ways market knowledge leads to global success

November 12, 2015 | By HSBC Bank Canada |

Foreign Market Knowledge

The thirst to grow and evolve leads many Canadian companies to set their sights on foreign markets. No business, however, can hope to flourish in an arena it does not understand. For the best chance of success, organizations planning to grow globally must match their desire to expand with an equally enthusiastic pursuit of in-depth market knowledge.

A recent report by The Conference Board of Canada entitled Selling to the World: The Keys to International Business Success* identified market knowledge as one of four key factors necessary for Canadian organizations to thrive in foreign markets. The other three keys are skilled executives, innovation capabilities and international networks. And, there are four ways that understanding your market will potentially help lead to global success.

Committing to Market Orientation

Developing insight into a foreign market is only possible once a company has made a commitment to having a market orientation. That means having a dedication to giving customers the best possible product or service by tailoring it to their specific needs.

In turn, market orientation drives firms to seek in-depth market knowledge to help them excel at three core activities: prioritizing which foreign customers to pursue, knowing the best way to meet the needs of those clients, and how best to adapt their products to international customers’ needs.

Selecting a Foreign Market

Deciding where to begin a global expansion can be overwhelming. By starting with a foundation of market orientation, organizations can focus on investigating where their goods and services will be in the greatest demand.

For example, when Manitoba-based Ag Growth International decided to expand outside Canada, its leaders took the time to carefully study which countries were most in need of their agricultural equipment. Based on thorough research, the company chose to move into Russia and the Ukraine, where there was the highest need for its products.

Choosing the Best Approach

Once a company has decided where to expand, it must then select the best approach to successfully enter its chosen markets. All approaches—acquisitions, direct sales, opening foreign offices—have their pros and cons. The more a business knows about its potential customer base, the greater chance it will have of successfully penetrating the market.

The leaders of Symbility Solutions, a small software company in Ontario, wanted to expand internationally but knew they didn’t have the means to establish foreign offices. Instead, the firm used resellers based in the local markets. The company recognized that these partners would bring existing customer relationships and a familiarity with the market that would ease the expansion process.

Adapting to New Customers’ Needs

A company with a market orientation does not develop products in isolation and then hope that customers will buy, but instead adapts its products and marketing approach to meet the specific needs of the customers it’s targeting.

For example, in the early 2000s, Ontario-based IMAX’s efforts to get commercial theatres interested in using its technology were continuously thwarted by the substantial costs customers would have to bear. Eventually IMAX realized it had to adapt its vision for expansion to the needs of potential clients. The company responded by making its technology more affordable and redesigning its theatres so they could fit into existing cinemas.

In-depth market knowledge is an indispensable tool for Canadian companies looking to take their products and services into the global marketplace.

HSBC offers a network of over 70 countries worldwide including over 167 outlets in 56 cities in China^ and 150 years of experience helping international businesses succeed. We bring unparalleled market knowledge to clients looking to expand across borders. That’s why HSBC can be your trusted advisor to navigate the markets as your company executes on its international vision.

Explore more about Selling to the World and what it takes to global success, download the full report here.

*Published in June 2015

^Network numbers as of March 5, 2015.

Issued by HSBC Bank Canada
© Copyright HSBC Bank Canada 2015. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

13 Oct

By HSBC Bank Canada

Diversification helps H2O Innovation make a splash around the world

October 13, 2015 | By HSBC Bank Canada |

In 2009, when much of North America was slogging through the Great Recession, one Canadian company in the industrial water treatment business responded by diversifying. Quebec City-based H2O Innovation had established itself as a leading designer, manufacturer and builder of water treatment systems in Canada and the United States, and had tried its hand at building systems in other countries around the world. As the economy tanked, there was no way to know whether those large, complicated projects would continue to keep the company busy.

By purchasing a small California company that manufactured and sold specialty products and chemicals used in water treatment systems, H2O Innovation was able to launch a product division in 2009. Suddenly, it had an easier way to move into other markets around the world.

The company’s willingness to be innovative by adding a new product line has translated into great success: In the six years since launching its product division, H2O Innovation has grown the division from zero revenue to now cover 90 percent of the company’s fixed costs. The product division, which earned US$200,000 in 2009 was responsible for US$18 million in 2014. The company finds its international buyers mostly through networking at trade shows and building relationships in its industry, says Marc Blanchet, vice president of corporate affairs at H2O Innovation.

H2O Innovation’s willingness to diversify and expand in international trade has transformed the company. Although the company has experienced ups and downs in doing global business, it continues to build highly respected water systems while also selling water treatment products in 40 countries around the world.

The H2O difference

Like most internationally successful companies, H2O Innovation understands the qualities that set it apart from the competition—its Global Competitive Advantages—and how to capitalize on them. One of the company’s most important differentiations is its skilled executives: Not only do its executive team members have prior international experience, but the company is known for the high quality of its water systems, which results in a deep understanding of how water systems work.

“The system we build is our flagship; it’s very high-end equipment”, says Marc Blanchet, vice president of corporate affairs at H2O Innovation. “The project business is not our most profitable division, but it is very synergetic with our service and products division. Our experience building those systems provides us the credibility to service the customers and keep the long term relationships.”

That expertise in building water system projects gives it knowledge that carries over into the product business. For instance, H2O Innovation customers could purchase couplings, devices for connecting parts of machinery, from a number of suppliers.It may seem like a very simple product, but desalination needs a certain type of stainless steel and not everyone understands those requirements,” Blanchet says. “That’s the added value we bring”.

Read the full article

Want to learn more and download a new report by HSBC and The Conference Board of Canada about the key to winning in international markets? Click here

Issued by HSBC Bank Canada
© Copyright HSBC Bank Canada 2015. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

21 Sep

By HSBC Bank Canada

The four essential qualities of successful global leaders

September 21, 2015 | By HSBC Bank Canada |

Is your business seeking out new markets overseas? If not, you should be. Canada’s aging population and slower economic growth limit your expansion options at home, but Canada’s weak dollar is making your goods and services more competitive internationally.

A new report conducted by The Conference Board of Canada, Selling to the World: The Keys to International Business Success, identified the critical factors that enable firms to succeed in global markets. These keys to success are skilled executives, foreign market knowledge, innovation capabilities, and international networks. These factors influence one another and can be combined to increase a company’s Global Competitive Advantage (GCA).

This article takes a closer look at the first key, skilled executives who can lead their organizations as they pursue opportunities beyond Canada’s borders.

The report found that successful global leaders have four essential traits in common: an entrepreneurial bent, a vision and commitment to international expansion, prior international experience, and the ability to build a management team with others who can execute the leader’s vision.

Vision and entrepreneurship

Committing to international expansion requires vision and an entrepreneurial bent. Some firms’ commitment to international growth is so entrenched in corporate culture that it is directly integrated into the company’s mission. For example, British Columbia-based Global Relay’s mission is to be the number one global provider of compliance messaging solutions to the financial services sector. At Distech Controls in Quebec, the management team has always aimed to become a global player in the energy management solutions segment.

The quality of entrepreneurship is vital at management level for a company to succeed when expanding internationally. Leaders must not be afraid to experiment and try something new. They must be innovative, proactive, and willing to take risks.

Having started off as an exhibitor at EXPO ’67 in Montreal, IMAX was bought in the 1990s by Richard Gelfond, the current CEO, with a partner. He saw the potential for commercial success beyond the original IMAX business of nature documentaries. To bring IMAX to where it is today—with technology in more than 800 theatres worldwide and blockbuster movie successes such as Interstellar – countless risks were taken, including convincing Hollywood producers and distributors of the commercial potential of IMAX technology. This was a process of trial and error that lasted nearly 15 years. A particularly successful gamble was the decision to seize on growing affluence in China and the increasing popularity of Hollywood-produced movies.

Go international, but go prepared

Prior international experience is a major bonus for a global leader. For Ontario-based Redknee, which provides billing software to global wireless companies, the founders had previously worked for Nortel – a Canadian based global telecoms company. They had traveled extensively across the United States and Europe, were comfortable with foreign cultures, and had many useful contacts. The company had an international focus from the start, as Redknee’s first customers were European. The founders’ international experience also helped with the integration of foreign acquisitions and Redknee’s expansion into 90 countries in a decade.

Finally, building a management team that blends appropriate experience and drive is critical. Not all companies have the chance to count on entrepreneurial executives, or on those who have had the opportunity to acquire international experience. However, firms looking to expand their reach in global markets can search externally and hire executives with these skills and characteristics.

While doing business in Canada has provided a solid foundation for your business, the time may be right to leverage that footing and harness the appropriate traits of your management team so that your organization can grow on a global scale. With our experience and knowledge, HSBC as a trusted partner, can help your executive team gain the international experience you need to be successful. With Relationship Managers in over 70 countries and 150 years of experience helping international businesses succeed we have the prior international experience required to help you execute on your vision.

Want to learn more and download a new report by HSBC and The Conference Board of Canada about the key to winning in international markets? Click here.

Interested in registering HSBC events? Click here.

Source: Selling to the World: The Keys to International Business Success Report, June 2015

Issued by HSBC Bank Canada
© Copyright HSBC Bank Canada 2015. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

HSBC Webinar: Crossing the Border—Trade with the U.S.

August 25, 2015 | By | No Comments

Thursday, September 10
2 pm | 11 am PT

The U.S. is our biggest trading partner, and Canadian businesses are already benefiting from an established trading relationship between both countries. With the U.S. economy growing faster than Canada’s, is your company taking full advantage of the strengthening U.S. demand?

At HSBC, we believe it’s a great time for Canadian businesses to expand. In this webinar, find out how the U.S. can affect Canada’s export growth, what a stronger U.S. dollar means for international trade and uncover the opportunities that your company can capitalize on.

What to expect from the webinar:
• U.S. and Canadian economic update
• Trade trends and opportunities between U.S. and Canada
• Insight into the U.S. as a gateway to global trade

Join HSBC online for 30 minutes of insights, followed by an interactive Q&A, from virtually anywhere – on your PC, tablet or smartphone.

Don’t miss out – REGISTER NOW! Click here for details.

A World of Difference: What it Takes to Win in International Markets

August 19, 2015 | By HSBC Bank Canada |

New study shows preferred path to global success for Canadian companies

No two companies, and no two global markets, are the same. But as it turns out, Canadian companies from a wide variety of industries have taken a remarkably similar path toward success in numerous nations around the world.

A new report by HSBC and The Conference Board of Canada found that the key to winning in international markets is to create a Global Competitive Advantage (GCA).

The report examined the findings of research on global company performance from around the world, and then interviewed Canadian companies that had demonstrated success in markets outside of Canada. The report determined that at the centre of international business success is a GCA, as evidenced through the experience of these Canadian companies. The results have been published in a recently released report, Selling to the World: The Keys to International Business Success.

So what is a GCA and how did companies like H2O Innovation, Global Relay, Clearwater Seafoods Inc., Distech Controls, and Nuform Building Technologies develop one?

According to the report, a company builds a GCA by creating more value than global rivals do through differentiation. A GCA is more complex than the traditional idea of having a competitive advantage or “unique selling proposition.” A GCA can’t be sustained solely by competing on price, for example. That’s because a GCA, by definition, is difficult to imitate.

Rather, a GCA requires consistent and long-term differentiation, most commonly by providing unique products aimed at niche markets.

And developing such differentiation, according to the report, requires the nurturing of four distinct keys:

Skilled Executives: leaders with an entrepreneurial nature and international experience
Foreign Market Knowledge: a deep understanding of how business is conducted in another nation and where the opportunities lie in a target market
Innovation Capabilities: a commitment to Research and Development and the ability to create new and unique product and/or processes
International Networks: As the saying goes, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Success comes to companies that have a network of customers, distributors, partners, and advisors that can help crack a new international market.

HSBC believes that many Canadian companies have what it takes to develop a GCA and find success in international markets, and they can also help.

As a leading international bank, HSBC’s extensive network of international connections and expertise in global trade, international finance, and the nuances of cash flow and foreign exchange are available to customers seeking to grow outside of Canada’s borders. Or, to put it another way, HSBC itself has more than a century of nurturing the four international success keys (skilled executives, market knowledge, innovation, and international networks) identified in the report. And activating those resources for our customers benefit is our GCA.

Interested in registering for HSBC events to learn more? Click here

Download the full report: Selling to the World: The Keys to International Business Success

Source: Selling to the World: The Keys to International Business Success Report, June 2015

Issued by HSBC Bank Canada
© Copyright HSBC Bank Canada 2015. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Benefits of being an Alberta Export Awards finalist

July 27, 2015 | By | No Comments

There are many benefits of being an Alberta Export Awards finalist. In addition to being recognized for positively contributing to our local and national economies, tangible benefits include:

– Recognition in the December edition of Business in Calgary/Business in Edmonton magazine, including photo and editorial spread, cover recognition and full-page event ads featuring finalist logos

– Customized 2015 Alberta Export Awards trophy

– Editorial mentions in Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters’ 20/20 Magazine

– Editorial coverage in related JuneWarren-Nickle’s Energy Group assets

– Social media recognition on provincial and national account handles

– Use of the Alberta Export Awards logo for your marketing materials, website and company LinkedIn profile

– Networking opportunities with fellow Alberta Export Awards winners and over 400 event attendees

And the list goes on! Take advantage of everything that the Alberta Export Awards has to offer – nominate or apply for an award today.