Most people in New Orleans have probably never heard of the local company called Tech- Sales. With a staff of only six people and a little office building hidden in Metairie, it’s not hard to miss. So then what is it about this little company that earned it a Presidential Prize for Exporting, one of the highest awards given out by the U.S. Department of Commerce? Company President Carlos Hidalgo’s pride, knowledge of the markets he sells to, and care for his customers make Tech-Sales a hard company to compete with, according to the Department of Commerce. The company exports industrial part and equipment made by hundreds of small and medium-sized U.S. manufacturers to foreign companies in the food-processing, pulp, and paper industries. Most buyers are large, often multinational companies that are usually leading players in their fields. Although their greatest concentration of costumers is in Mexico, through Central America and on to South America, European sales make up 12 to 15 percent of Hidalgo’s business.
“Selling internationally is easier when you know who you’re selling to,” Hidalgo’s said. “We hand pick our customers and do research on them. We’ll follow a corporation and find out what plants they own and who the key people are in those plants.”
But a lot of Hidalgo’s knowledge was learned the hard way. In 1983, he started out as a manufacturer’s representative of electrical supplies in Louisiana and Mississippi. He got an urge to start his own company, but the economy was working against him. The oil industry’s decline was souring the local economy, which made profitability almost impossible for a small business like Tech-Sales.