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Native American Herbal Tea Company Finds Customers Using Latest Video Technology

November 9, 1998

The US Department of Commerce’s new video technology program enabled a Native American firm in Aberdeen, SD, to land two agreements in September to sell herbal teas to hundreds of retail outlets in Europe.

The transactions, conducted via "real time" desktop video technology, involved the Native American Herbal Tea Co. and two European companies, one in Switzerland and the other in Germany.

Initial Use of the Technology Resulted in Exclusive Agreement

On September 17, the company reached an exclusive agreement with the Swiss firm Claro to sell tea in 200 stores throughout Switzerland through the use of an innovative video technology program launched by Commerce and the South Dakota International Business Institute. It was the tea company's first exclusive agreement in Europe. Claro, a Swiss cooperative which features ecologically sound products, reported sales in 1997 of approximately $8 million in US dollars.

US Ambassador to Switzerland, Madeline Kunin, inaugurated the event at the Commercial Service office in Bern by noting that the technology is an excellent example of the innovative ways the US Government can help small-minority-owned companies which often do not have easy access to the global marketplace.

"With 96 percent of the world's consumers living outside the United States, this technology will enable small-and medium-sized businesses to market to the globe in the new millennium," said Daniel J. McLaughlin, deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Commercial Service. "This new video capability enables Commerce to offer a range of export-related programs and services to American companies at the speed of business."

"As a rural-based company, this technology allows us to compete against more experienced firms who tend to be more familiar with the nuances of conducting trade," said Richard Vallie, president of the Native American Herbal Tea Company. "This video technology offers the advantages of personal interaction without the expense and time associated with travel."

The Herbal Tea Company’s second European agreement later in the month using the desktop video technology was with the German retail firm Gepa, which has 600 retail outlets in Germany. On the same day, three other companies, Feather Stone, Beaver Creek Tanning Co., and Colleen’s Gardens held initial discussions with potential business partners via Commerce’s "real time" video technology session.

Commerce Will Roll Out the Technology in More than 250 Offices Worldwide

The Department of Commerce will soon begin a two year roll-out of this technology in its 100-plus domestic offices and over 150 offices located in US embassies and consulates overseas. The South Dakota International Business Institute, based at the Northern State University campus, is playing a key strategic role with the US Commercial Service in its efforts to assist South Dakota businesses export abroad.

Native American Herbal Tea Company is a 100 percent Native American owned and operated business. The company's president, Richard Vallie, is a Chipewyan associated with the Turtle Mountain Reservation located in North Dakota. Founded in 1987, the firm employs 12 Native Americans and is enjoying rapid growth worldwide with teas such as Warriors Brew, Chief's Delight, Victory Tea, Teepee Dreams, and Indian Love Tea.

Since 1993, export sales from South Dakota to the world have jumped by more than 100 percent, topping $435 million last year.

For More Information

For more information on export programs and services, area businesses may contact the US Commerce Department's Sioux Falls Export Assistance Center at (605) 330-4264.

Reporters may contact Curt Cultice in the Office of Public Affairs of the International Trade Commission in Washington, DC, at (202) 482-3809. You may also visit the ITA Pressroom.

Related Resources

US Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration Homepage

Exporting to the 21st Century.

International Trade and Transport Advisor

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