Success Story
Healthcare Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Exporter Puts Smile on World Markets

Radius company at a trade show talking with a client

Radius of Kutztown, Pennsylvania, is a women-owned and family-run manufacturer of sustainable toothbrushes and dental accessories. Founded in 1983 by her father, Saskia Foley has served as the company’s CEO since 2011. A long-term client of the U.S. Commercial Service in Philadelphia, Radius has benefited from export assistance to make new international sales. In the below Q&A, Saskia and Devan Walding, the firm’s International Sales Manager, provide insights on the firm’s exporting story. 

Q: Could you briefly describe Radius’ product line?

Saskia: We first started years ago by applying ergonomic design and luxury materials to engineer a toothbrush that we market as cleaning better and feeling better in a person’s hand. Our focus is also on sustainability, meaning that most of our products are recyclable or biodegradable. Since then, we’ve taken that philosophy and created sustainable toothpastes, flosses, and other daily use objects. We market to worldwide consumers through the web, eCommerce and retail outlets.

Q: Did you have any initial reservations about exporting - if so what were they - and how did you overcome them?

Saskia: No, I didn’t have any initial reservations at all. But we did want to determine the best ways to identify and reach out to the right countries and that would be good markets for Radius. So, we basically organized leads based off of our inquiries and then learned how to vet those.

Q: What was your pivotal moment to say ‘yes” to exporting? Please describe your steps in getting started?

Saskia: A pivotal moment was seeing that there was real power in dedicating time in finding new leads or new partners and companies compared to being just reactive and waiting for them to come to us. So, being proactive, reaching out to SBA, the U.S. Commercial Service, the World Trade Center in Pennsylvania, and having great contacts or best practices was key. Also, finding the right people to talk to about the best practices and best tools such as the Commercial Service’s Gold Key Service to help get us connected to other people in other countries.

How many markets are you currently selling to, and what percent of overall sales do exports account for?

In 2021, international sales represented 26 percent of our overall sales. Currently, we are in more than 40 markets.

Q: What federal or state export promotion services have been particularly valuable in your global sales success?

Devan: The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Step Grant and the U.S. Commercial Service’s International Partner Search (IPS) have been particularly valuable to our exporting efforts. Also, the export counseling and guidance from the U.S. Commercial Service in Philadelphia over the years has been invaluable in helping us navigate the export process.

Q: How important was CS help in giving you confidence to move forward with the distributor in Peru?

Devan: The International Company Profile (ICP) was a critical tool that allowed us to confidently move forward with a foreign distributor. Outside of the distributor providing professional references, we have limited resources to validate their business profile. With the ICP, local U.S. Commercial Officers are able to provide additional context and clarity to their operations affording us the added confidence required to proceed or not. Peru was a new market opportunity for RADIUS at that time.

What was your biggest challenge you faced in the global marketplace, and how did you overcome it?

Devan: I would says prioritization and customization. With so many variables including foreign country requirements (testing, labels), competition etc., the need for a simplified go-to market strategy that includes basic yes or no flow charts keeps our efforts focused without getting carried away with the ‘what if’ scenarios. Keeping target markets prioritized based on economic indices and speed to market replication (ecommerce) also ensures we are maximizing our return on investment.

Q: How important has exporting been in helping Radius weather changes in the domestic and world economies?

Saskia: Exporting has done an amazing job at keeping our business healthy. So, In addition to diversifying or getting or growing our eCommerce base through companies like Amazon we focused on growing our sales on the international side as well. This approach helped make our overall sales much more sustainable so if domestic sales would slow, international sales would be up, and vice versa. It’s interesting because up until COVID we actually saw international carrying the load and really growing fast. Currently, our international sales seem to be at a plateau/down, but there is very heavy interest in our USA made products domestically. These include sales through mass marketing channels Walmart, CVS, and other outlets.

Q: Describe some exporting lessons learned, and what’s your advice to potential exporters?

Saskia: Great question. Make sure you find a partner who is really sustainable and can actually do the market entry for you - that’s always been a really big one for us. Also, getting the customer to prepay in advance has always been something that I recommend. We do not have any relationships with anyone who cannot prepay their shipment, having this policy has really benefited our export sales growth.