Based in the east of England, for more than 40 years Syfer has been producing hi-tech electronic components including multilayer ceramic capacitors and EMI suppression filters and exporting its products across the globe.
Based near Norwich, Syfer Technology has been manufacturing hi-tech electronic components for over 40 years. Its products are used in a wide range of industries, including telecommunications, aerospace, automotive and medical. When it was first formed, Syfer made components for primarily UK consumption, but it has since branched out to supply product globally to Europe, North America, China and Asia. Now, 90% of its customer base is non-UK.
But times are set to change for Syfer; in a bid to be more aggressive in the global components market, the company is amalgamating with a sister company and moving its manufacturing operation to China.
Syfer Managing Director Howard Ingleson explains: “This move to Asia is part of a much larger plan for us and it’s a major investment. Our research and development will remain in Norfolk, where we will continue to develop innovative products that are at the cutting edge of component technology.”
Finding new markets is key to the survival of any business and Syfer is no different. “Researching potential export markets takes time and we have occasionally used the UKTI,” says Howard. “But the most effective method for us is to network with people in the industry and make contact with those on the ground who know the distribution channels and the region we are targeting. We also attend trade shows to assess opportunities.
“Support is also key, for example, in India we have a rep in place; he is the voice of Syfer, our first point of contact, so it’s vital that he is right person to represent the company. Finding the right people who want to work with us takes time and patience; it’s all about relationship building.
“We also occasionally use British Chambers for export training courses, which are very useful for keeping up to date. Plus we attend their events. I am very supportive of the Chamber and what it is doing for the local business community. It’s a very valuable organisation.”
The biggest challenges for Syfer go back to those all-important relationships overseas. “That is our biggest challenge, finding the right channels to operate in a foreign country – a rep, partner or distributor. Some of our relationships go back 15 years or more, so once they are formed they last.”
Components may be small, but they are a high-value product and shipping needs to be not only fast, but also safe and efficient. “We always use couriers,” says Howard. “It’s a reliable method and the security of our product in transit is paramount. There are no cutting corners when it comes to shipping.”
Exporting can be a challenge, but Howard believes that selling is selling, no matter who the customer is. “I think that selling overseas is no different to selling in the UK. I would say to anyone looking to export, don’t be intimidated by the idea of trading globally. As long as you have a good product that you believe in, it is competitively priced and you give them excellent service, customers will buy from you again and again. It’s the same principle wherever you are.”