COMPANY SUCCESS STORY: GAMBER-JOHNSON
Products: Gamber-Johnson, a leading supplier of rugged computer mounting systems and vehicle mounting components, has built a reputation for providing quality, innovative products.
Location: Stevens Point
Leadership: President Brian Wagner; Director of Operations and International Sales Gautam Malik
Market: For most of its history, Gamber-Johnson primarily sold its products in the U.S. and Canada, supplying the public safety, law enforcement, military, telecommunications, utility, material handling and transportation markets. It began expanding exports beyond Canada in 2012, focusing first on the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates and Brazilian markets. The company is now looking beyond these markets, identifying India, Australia and Germany as its next targets for growth, and has signed service agreements that provide for in-country support and repair of Gamber-Johnson docking stations in 22 countries—support that is essential for customer satisfaction in these markets.
Business Success: Gamber-Johnson originally manufactured wooden stereo cabinets, but its product line evolved along with technological advances. The company developed a niche designing and manufacturing high-quality hardware to safely hold electronic devices in vehicles.
In recent years, the company’s revenue growth is attributable almost entirely to export growth. Exports sold outside the U.S. and Canada, as a percentage of total sales, have risen from zero in 2010 to 13 percent in 2015.
This export growth began when the company’s leadership noticed a global trend in mobile and connected workforces—and overseas demand for mobile docking stations. “The domestic market was flat, whereas the export market was growing at 7 to 10 percent year over year,” says Malik. Through participation in the ExporTech™ Program, the company was able to develop a strategic approach to exporting, identifying the most promising markets and crafting a plan for success in those markets before attempting to enter others. “ExporTech gave Gamber-Johnson a jump start, a toolbox, a network of key advisors and industry experts, and the confidence to invest further,” says Malik.
Gamber-Johnson has already had to create several new positions due to business growth driven by exports, and expects continued strong growth in the years ahead. The company received the Wisconsin Governor’s Export Achievement Award in 2015 to recognize its excellence in exporting.
Wisconsin Business Environment Benefits: In addition to the ExporTech Program, Gamber-Johnson was able to benefit from several International Market Access Grants to travel to international electronics trade shows in Europe and the U.S. Grant support has also enabled Gamber-Johnson to translate its website into Portuguese, Arabic and Spanish. With help from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s (WEDC’s) Global Network of authorized trade representatives in 54 countries around the world, Gamber-Johnson has been able to navigate issues such as differences in vehicle design (e.g., with right-side driver’s seats), regulatory issues and cultural differences in business communication style. “We are immensely grateful for the support WEDC and the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership have provided,” says Malik. “Exporting has become a critical aspect of our growth strategy, and these resources helped us to see the potential in the export market.”