Spectra Colors, based in Kearny, NJ, is a minority owned manufacturer and distributor of high quality customized dyes and colorants. The company produces dyes that are used by manufacturers in a variety of end products: printers, pens and markers, soaps and cleaners, wood stains, and specialty applications such as incense and candles. The company was established in 1987 by CEO Luis B. Marrero and two partners, when they bought the dye division of a larger company, identifying the opportunity to focus solely on dyes and colorants. A long time client of the U.S. Commercial Service (CS) office in Newark, New Jersey, Spectra has successfully grown its export business in the last twenty years and now operates in every continent except for Africa.
Operating in many countries with a broad range of products, Spectra Colors faces two main challenges: import regulations and finding distributors. Regulations for goods entering a foreign market differ from one country to the next, and Spectra has faced challenges with these regulations in the past because their products are chemical based. “In Europe, REACH regulations (Registration, Evaluation, and Authorization of Chemicals) have caused us lengthy delays and expense,” says Veronica Pellot-Marrero, Manager of Business and Finances at Spectra Colors. Another challenge for the company has been finding reputable agents and distributors for their products internationally. “It’s important that our distributors share our values,” says Pellot-Marrero. “It’s not just about selling our product, but believing in it, and positively representing us abroad.”
Spectra is currently looking to grow its exports to China, India, and Brazil, which are countries with promising manufacturing sectors. The company wants to be prepared, and knows that in China and India, it will face strong competition on price. However, it plans to differentiate itself based on its quality products and focus on the customer.
To help Spectra overcome its difficulties with import regulations, CS New Jersey worked closely with other CS offices worldwide. CS New Jersey staff also coordinated with other government agencies such as the Export-Import Bank, to provide Spectra with export insurance and secure their shipments abroad.
To find the right distributors, Spectra has consistently taken advantage of U.S. Commercial Service programs. Luis Marrero attended export financing seminars and Export University. The company also had great success participating in trade missions. “As part of Trade Winds, we travelled to Istanbul, Turkey in 2008, Warsaw, Poland in 2009, and Brazil in 2010,” said Marrero. These trips resulted in many promising leads and potential distributors. Spectra utilized the U.S. Commercial Service business matchmaking services to identify the right partners in China and India, and recently partnered with a plant in India to create rinsable dyes. Meeting with partners through CS events and matchmaking services has helped Spectra find distributors who shared their values. “Often we receive unsolicited requests from foreign partners, and the Commercial Service has helped us verify whether these organizations are reliable. Since our company has grown quickly the Commercial Service has saved us valuable time,” said Marrero.
CEO Luis Marrero at rinsable dye plant in India
Spectra Colors has been successful abroad by providing a quality product customized to the buyer’s specific needs, combined with focusing on their core strength – taking care of the customer. “We work hard to make sure production is timely, and that customers receive reliable service and, quality products, and strong technical support,” said Luis Marrero.
Spectra strongly recommends that other companies consider exporting. “There are many opportunities for U.S. companies to export, and resources and guidance provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Export-Import Bank and other organizations,” says Veronica Pellot-Marrero.
Over the years, exporting has become a sizeable part of Spectra Colors’ business, and the firm has added four jobs at their headquarters in Kearny, New Jersey. “Exporting has been very important to our company, and has enabled us to create revenue despite the economic downturn,” says Marrero.