“My father, a former police officer and electronics engineer, set up David Horn Communications in the mid-eighties, designing and manufacturing audio and visual recording devices for UK police, military and government agencies,” says Horn Jnr, the commercial and financial director.
“We hadn’t even considered the Aussie market until two years ago, when we heard of a tender for DVD interview recorders for New South Wales Police Force.”
An export novice, Horn contacted Anton Rudgalvis, a senior international trade advisor for East of England International (EEI), which delivers UK Trade & Investment services in Bedfordshire.
The EEI provided him with reams of information on demographics, budgets and distribution agencies. It also coughed up 50 per cent of the cost of a trip Down Under, so Horn was able to meet with distributors and police force representatives in Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane.
“I spent two weeks out there and had two or three meetings each day, plus a chat with the UKTI’s commercial officer at the British Consulate-General in Sydney – another mine of information and advice.”
Horn selected an Australian distribution company called Amber Technologies, put together a pitch and won the £700,000 contract to manufacture and ship 235 interview recorders.
Last year, the company made £1.3m on sales of £3.5m. “We’ve been shortlisted for two other major contracts in Oz – one on the West Coast, one in Victoria. The Australian market has rocket-fuelled the business and we expect to double turnover by the end of this year.”
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