Shaheen tours, praises Salem company

April 01, 2010

SALEM - U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen made an example out of LNX Corp. yesterday - a good example.

Shaheen toured the radar and communication company's facilities as part of a push for local small businesses to pursue exporting as a way to expand their companies and the state's economy.

"One of the reasons I wanted to come here today is because of the success you have had with exporting," Shaheen, D-N.H., told employees before the tour.

The company, which has designed and manufactured various components and systems since 2001, does about half its business with customers in other countries, President Lamberto Raffaelli said.

"In my opinion, you need that to maintain a good balance," he said.

When the domestic market is struggling, Raffaelli said, the international market is often still doing well.

Raffaelli's company, with 68 employees, stands out. Fewer than 1 percent of businesses with under 500 employees export, Shaheen said, even though 95 percent of the world's markets are outside the United States.

"It's something that we need to change. That's why we're here," she said.

Earlier in the day, Shaheen held the Granite State Export Forum in Manchester to connect businesses with resources to help them expand into world markets.

Shaheen and Lorraine Hariton, a special representative for commerce and business affairs with the U.S. State Department, asked Raffaelli about the process to obtain export licenses. He said the process has become much faster in the last year or so.

"We probably apply for hundreds of export licenses every year and throughout our history, we've only had one denied," Raffaelli said.

There still remains a psychological problem, he said.

Overseas customers fear LNX will not receive the permit needed to export devices often being used as part of a product the customer is producing. Because of that fear, he said, the customer might feel pressured to develop the technology it needs, or get it elsewhere, to ensure the product is not delayed.

"They are very concerned," he said. "It was not like this 10 years ago. Perception has changed, and perception is everything."

Raffaelli said they have sometimes needed export licenses for very small and unimportant parts. He said no longer requiring the licenses for certain items would help.

Shaheen told employees she did not believe domestic consumer demand would return to where it was before the recession. Businesses would need to find new opportunities, such as exporting, she said.

Hariton said other companies following LNX's lead and expanding into world markets is vital.

"It's absolutely critical to the future competitiveness of the United States," she said.

By:  Jillian Jorgensen
Source: Lawrence Eagle Tribune