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Two Wilmington Companies Expand To International Markets

By Jenny Callison, posted Mar 7, 2024
Early this week, two local companies announced major expansions of their export activities and unveiled new international websites to facilitate sales abroad.
 
Monday, End of Days Distillery released information touting www.eoddistillery.eu, which will enable Europeans to order the company’s spirits directly from EOD’s representative in Berlin. The website “marks a significant milestone in the company's expansion efforts, aiming to better serve its growing customer base across Europe,” according to Shane Faulkner, who founded the distillery in 2020 with his wife Beth.
 
Over the past four years, EOD has grown its product line, pushed out its spirits to a broader network of sellers and added a kitchen to its Castle Street location. The company found its opportunity to enter the European market last year through contacts at the N.C. Department of Agriculture.
 
“In 2023 the Department of Agriculture took notice of us and made us aware of a program that’s sponsored by the NCDA and the Southern United States Trade Association, or SUSTA,” Faulkner said Thursday. “Through a sponsorship, they sent us to Germany for a large wine trade fair, ProWein, which had recently added spirits.”
 
Working with another North Carolina distillery and a few others from the southern U.S., Shane and his nephew and business partner Camron Faulkner put together a small trade delegation for the 2023 ProWein event last March.
 
“We got a phenomenal response from those tasting our spirits,” Shane Faulkner said. “People would ask, ‘How do we order your spirits?’ I had no idea. I was unprepared to take orders.”
 
Since then, Faulkner has continued to hear from potential customers in Germany and elsewhere. When End of Days and a Tennessee distillery were invited to Berlin to participate in January’s Whisky Week, the EOD team found more fans of their products.
 
“Everyone fell in love with our bourbon, rye, rum – every single product,” Faulkner said.
 
Faulkner connected with a friend who lives in the German capital. She offered to be an End of Days sales representative. Since then, the company has distilled a marketing plan and a partnership with a purveyor with locations in Hamburg and Berlin. The partner will stock EOD products and fulfill orders. The new website is EOD’s portal to European markets.
 
“We are ready to take orders in Germany and Estonia,” Faulkner said. “Hopefully, soon we’ll expand into France, Latvia and other areas. Two of our representatives are flying out Friday to the 2024 ProWein, which takes place Sunday, Monday and Tuesday in Dusseldorf.”
 
While the NCDA provided End of Days the initial connection to the European market and sponsored the company at ProWein, Faulkner said he had to figure out many aspects of international sales on his own.
 
“The Value-Added Tax, the way to ship high-proof alcohol, and [how to handle] the different quantities: in Europe the standard container is 700 ml, instead of the U.S. standard of 750 ml,” he said. “All these things I had to learn first-hand.”
 
International trade is not new to P2P Rescue, the Wilmington-based maker of water rescue boards and sleds. In fact, the company was among six winners of the North Carolina Governor’s Export Awards in 2018 and has worked closely with the state’s Economic Development Partnership in its expansion to foreign markets. The problem P2P has worked to overcome, said owner Cliff Ray, is how to supply customers in Europe and the UK most cost-effectively and efficiently.

A new UK-domain website, announced Tuesday, helps address that problem.
 
P2P is one of perhaps only three providers of rescue boards and sleds in the world, according to Ray, and makes models geared for the varying coastlines in the UK and Europe as well as those in the United States. But until very recently, all products were shipped from Wilmington.
 
“During Covid, I started working with a partner [in the UK], Icon Sports,” Ray said Thursday. “I made many trips back and forth to the UK. They have had only one board provider. We met and talked to them and designed a board, with their input, that works well with their coastline. We just shipped our first container of boards to them.”
 
P2P’s new partner, Icon Sports, and new website, www.p2prescue.co.uk, should streamline the company’s international sales and shipping process. Supported by the new website and its stock of boards and sleds, Icon Sports will handle sales and product delivery. There’s just one little wrinkle, however: since the United Kingdom left the EU, there’s a 25% import fee levied for sales outside the UK.
 
Ray worked on that as Brexit regulations loomed. During the pandemic, he spent time in Thailand working with P2P’s manufacturer there to enable the manufacturer to ship directly to customers in Europe and the United Kingdom. Now, that factory, which makes P2P’s boards for the international market, and a factory in Taiwan, which makes the rescue sleds, can ship directly to customers outside the UK.
 
With its international sales network honed, Ray says P2P Rescue is developing its next product line, which it plans to announce next month. With rising waters and floods worldwide, Ray says there are more rescue needs that need to be met.
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