With help from SBDC, Kirila Fire expands exports to 25 countries – Business Journal Daily

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – As is the case with many small businesses, the staff and owners of Kirila Fire Training Facilities Inc. knew exactly how to do what they do, in this case, design, manufacture and install fire fighting systems. fire training.

But when it came to navigating international trade laws, these skills proved to be of limited use.

“We make the equipment. We are not foreign trade experts, ”said President Jerry Kirila.

What they needed was someone to help them manage, as Kirila said, “the business side of the business”. So, in early 2013, Kirila began working with staff at the Ohio Small Business Development Center at Youngstown State University.

The partnership was such a success that in September Kirila was recognized by the Small Business Administration as the Exporter of the Year for the Great Lakes region, which includes Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

“They help us connect the dots with banking, legal, accounting, tax,” Kirila said. “They help us run our business.”

Local SBDC and YSU members introduced him and his wife Marcy on Thursday.

From her site in Fowler, Kirila Fire has a long history of providing services across the country, but through her work with the Small Business Development Center, Kirila now does business in around 25 countries.

His work sites included Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna Township, Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey, Camp Butler in Japan, and Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany.

“The way I always describe Jerry is like a big-winged eagle,” said Mousa Kassis, director of the SBDC Export Assistance Network at YSU. “It flies all over the world and all we’ve done is give it the wind under its wings.”

In more literal terms, Kirila says that Kassis and the SBDC have helped his company navigate complex international rules, locate foreign banks, and sift through stacks of often thick tender documents.

Just bidding on a project was a daunting task, says Kirila.

“You need to have a line of credit with a local bank. You have to have a line of credit with a foreign bank and they get married somehow, ”he said.

Betty Jo Licata, Dean of Williamson College of Business Administration, said that one of the hallmarks of the local SBDC is its integration not only with the business community, but also with academics at the college.

“Their innovative programs and the way they engage students are really a role model for many SBDCs who don’t,” she said.

This innovation was recognized in 2019, when the Small Business Administration presented SBDC to YSU with the Award for Excellence in Innovation.

This was yet another example of the university’s positive impact on the community, said YSU President Jim Tressel.

“Every day something happens on this campus that connects with the community, makes a difference and earns national acclaim,” he said.

Exporting has helped Kirila do more work and increase awareness of her name in a niche market, Kirila said.

It also helps the company, which employs just over 50 people, stand out from the competition.

“As we work in foreign markets and see what they want, we bring these ideas back to the United States,” Kirila said. “There is a knowledge base that we are gaining.”

Pictured: Marcy and Jerry Kirila of Kirila Fire Training Facilities were honored by Youngstown State President Jim Tressel and Mousa Kassis, Director of the Export Assistance Network of the Fire Development Network small businesses of YSU.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.

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