Travelling in a group has its advantages

County Mayor Torill Selsvold Nyborg recently lead a Hordaland delegation to Rio Oil and Gas, aiming to build networks, promote our region and to learn about Brazilian and other international markets. The fifteen delegates shared an active programme made by Innovation Norway Rio in cooperation with NCE Subsea and Hordaland Oil & Gas (HOG), with a particular aim for small and middle sized companies to benefit from their visit.

Published: 12 November 2008
One of the participants, Erik Skjeldal, managing director for Techno Valves and Automation, was very pleased with the organized trip to Brazil.
- I have been to many oil and gas conferences in the past ten years, and started off rather sceptical to travelling in a group in this manner. However, I changed my mind and registered upon seeing the well-composed programme. For us, there were several tempting lectures on subsea, an area in which we plan to focus more. The participant list of the many events was impressive. In connection with the lectures and the social gatherings we met the top management of the major actors, which is a unique opportunity for a medium-sized company like ourselves, says Skjeldal.

Offers international growth
Technor Valves and Automation started in January 2007 as a result of the merger of Bennex' Valves and Automation department and ScanArmatur. The company has experienced great growth since the merger and now employs 43 people. As 90 per cent of the turnover is domestic, there is a great growth potential for the Ågotnes-based company in focusing on international markets, although new business cultures may cause new challenges.

- During the conference and the organized activities, the delegation had the opportunity to meet several Norwegian colleagues already established in Brazil. These gave a good introduction. As an SMB-actor it is important for us to acquire the business cultures of the various countries in order to succeed internationally, as in this case, Brazil. Herman Friele, representing Business Region Bergen, has long experience from the country, even though he works in an entirely different industy, says Skjeldal. He also came in touch with Erling Lorentzen, who has years of experience from Brazilian business culture.

- The conversations with the established business connections gave taste for more. Brazil is a huge market where a lot is happening right now. For our part we found great value in the Petrobras presentations and talking to their representatives. They told us in detail of their plans for development and business models, showing us our specific market potentials, says Skjeldal.   

New contacts
The managing director of the Ågotnes company went to Brazil, like all others at the conference, to present his company and establish connections. HOG's programme was put together with this in mind, and this was noticeable.

- I found more connections than I had expected, both form the Brazilian supplier industry, Norwegian companies present on the Brazilian market, and from the oil company Petrobras. Innovation Norway?s programme, with seminars, lunches and dinners made this possible. If I alone was to arrange meetings with all the people I met during these hectic days, I would have spent several working days preparing and finding the right representatives within the right companies, Skjeldal says.
During the conference the managing director of Technor Valves & Automation made approximately 20 contacts he now follows up, some of which will result in real offers.
Repetition requested
Erik Skjeldal also appreciates how the practicalities were well taken care of for the delegation. He claims that this helps the participants focus on business and bonding, but that the most important issue was to get access to meetings where small and medium sized businesses normally not necessarily gets access. 
- Travelling as a delegation like this was a great advantage. A group receives interest, and has enough impact to arrange meetings. Our political representatives made it interesting for Brazilian politicians to show up, making the Brazilian companies follow, says Skjeldal.
-The program was professionally made, we experienced Brazilian culture on the social gatherings, and we had plenty of opportunity to present ourselves in meetings and conferences, Skjeldal says. 
At the Rio Oil and Gas 2008 Hordaland was well represented, and the Bergen area industry was thoroughly exposed via stands and participants in the delegation.  - We exposed a wide range of industry within oil and gas, and showed that we are part of an active environment where we can deliver projects as packages in collaboration with eachother. 
The managing director of Technor Valves and Automation heartily recommends delegation trips. -This is a great chance for small or medium-sized companies to contribute in the local market at the destination, and a unique opportunity for first-time exposure, Erik Skjeldal concludes.  
Text: Asle Steiestøl Wingsternes, Maritime Colours. Translated by: Trude Sletteland