Viking Spas recognized for exports to Asia

September 25, 2011
| By Pete Daly |
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Viking Spas of Wyoming was one of three Michigan companies recognized recently at a U.S. Commercial Service event in East Lansing that was focused on the U.S. government initiative to increase exports overseas, especially to Asia.

David Adelman, U.S. ambassador to Singapore, presented Certificates of Export Achievement to Viking and also Dongan Electric Manufacturing and Dawn Foods, both of which are based in southeast Michigan.

About 60 percent of Viking spas are exported, most to Canada but 15 percent overseas, particularly India, according to Tom Kneeshaw, director of sales and marketing at Viking.

Adelman pointed out that U.S.-made products have a great deal of prestige among Asian consumers.

The certificates were presented at a seminar called “Why Singapore? Why Asia? Why Now?” Thomas Maguire of the Grand Rapids office of the U.S. Commercial Service led the panel discussion.

The Export Achievement Certificate was created by the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce to recognize U.S. companies that successfully penetrate international markets for distribution of their products.

Attendees learned about business opportunities in the fast-growing Asian marketplace, as well as Singapore's role as a key location in Asia for exports from the U.S.

The U.S. is Singapore’s third-largest trade partner, and exports to Singapore continue to grow, providing still more opportunities for business expansion there by companies based in the U.S.

Other speakers at the event included Weisheng Lee, regional director of Eastern Americas Singapore Economic Development Board, and Boon Ho Toh, center director of International Enterprises Singapore. They presented an economic overview of Singapore and its role in the rapidly expanding Asian economy. The Singapore Economic Development Board is the lead government agency for planning and executing strategies to enhance Singapore's position as a global business partner.

Patrick Santillo, senior commercial officer, U.S. Commercial Service, U.S. Embassy Singapore, talked about the present being a particularly opportune period for entering the Singapore market.

Viking, 2527 Prairie St. SW, is one of 48 small businesses in Michigan that were successfully exporting products out of the country in 2010 with help of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. Those exports were worth $126 million, and ranked eighth in total exports assisted by the Ex-Im, on a state-by-state basis. In line with President Obama’s goal to increase exports, the Ex-Im has committed to doubling the number of investment deals with Michigan small businesses, and aims to have 100 customers by 2014.

Viking, a family-owned business headed by CEO Tom Veneklase, was founded in the 1990s to manufacture hot tubs and now has sales in excess of $20 million annually.

“We have our sights set on a record year this year,” said Kneeshaw.

The Global Business Club of Mid-Michigan, which is headquartered at Michigan State University, hosted the event.

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