Area Entrepreneaurs Learn About International Trade

Daily Times, The (Farmington, N.M.)-October 9, 2007

Author: Cornelia de Bruin Section: Local Record #: 7132419

SAN JUAN COUNTY — Several entrepreneurs interested in expanding their businesses internationally took advantage of the Tuesday opportunity offered to them by San Juan Economic Development Service.
The opportunity was a business seminar tailor-made for business people such as themselves — a seminar that gave them a chance to talk directly with a few major players in the international trade sector. The lineup included Matthew Hilgendorf, an international trade specialist who works with the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce; Michelle Keng, New Mexico's Taiwan Trade representative; Mathew Woodlee, director of the state Economic Development Departments Office of International Trade; and Edward Herrera, Asia-Pacific trade specialist of the Economic Development Division.

On hand to hear details about the international business market and how they might integrate into it were Shelia Herrera, president of Clean Can Technology, Inc.; Robby Wharton, production manager of Morningstar Minerals; and Sylvia Laughter, a Phoenix-based businesswoman representing a client on the Navajo Nation.

Their interests and hopes varied.

Herrera has designed a commercial and domestic truck that can pick up, clean and sanitize garbage cans and dumpsters in 90 seconds. It's a truck that's capable of following a garbage pickup truck — and one that contains its cleaning solution for later treatment instead of simple dumping.

"It's all about the environment," Herrera said. "We recycle the water, we don't simply dump it into the storm sewer where it goes everywhere."

Herrera is interested in marketing her cleaning system to overseas markets.

"I really believe my husband died of something he inhaled from a job site in Durango," Herrera said. "I didn't realize that everything from a can that gets cleaned goes into the storm drain and contaminates the waters, the water goes right into the rivers and streams."

The connection made her start thinking about how to prevent the contamination, and led to her inventing the truck that contains the cleaning system she wants to market worldwide.

Also keenly interested in expanding farther overseas is Wharton, production manager for Morningstar Minerals, a mineral health supplements company launched here by Geoff McMahon.

Morningstar Minerals markets humic acid and fulvic acid, two organic compounds from fossilized plants found in coal mining by-products, to cancer patients.

"We have proof of cancer patients here who are taking this with their chemotherapy and are not losing their hair," Wharton said. "Last year we were contacted by seven doctors from foreign companies who came to check our product out."

The morning seminar offered everything Wharton wanted to hear about the Asian market. He'd had a couple of bad experiences when he tried to approach the huge market. Morningstar already does business in Australia and elsewhere.

The mineral market worldwide is $200 billion annually. Wharton said he'd be happy with 1 percent of the market. China, he pointed out, comprises 37 percent of the worldwide figure. Based on the possibility, Wharton is considering attending the state Office of International Trade's next Expo opportunity in Taiwan and Hong Kong in December.

Expos are only one of the "match-making" opportunities local entrepreneurs can tap into through the office and through the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Other possibilities are market research services, background checks of foreign companies and a "Gold Key" service that offers them up-front partners in foreign countries.

"We're looking at every possibility that exists," said Laughter, who traveled from Phoenix to the seminar on a research and report back assignment from her client, Navajo National Council Delegate for Dennehotso, Ariz., Katherine Benally.

Benally owns Special Care at Home, a medical firm that caters to mostly Navajo clientele who are home-bound.

"She is looking for ways to employ people on the reservation," Laughter said of Benally. "She sent me on a facilities tour to Tucson of a business that had a contract with the Department of Defense; we might do something for her own community."

The seminar was "very informative," Laughter said.

"I might go to Hong Kong to see if we could do something like this."

For more information about international marketing opportunities, contact Mathew Woodlee, Danielle Duran or Edward Herrera at 505-827-0278, or Michelle Keng at, or Matthew Hilgendorf at 505-670-7809 or

Cornelia de Bruin:

The International Market Development Opportunities for San Juan County Companies seminar was hosted by San Juan College's Quality Center for Business.

Copyright (c) 2007 Daily Times, The (Farmington, NM), a MediaNews Group Newspaper.




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