Breaking News Bar
updated: 4/29/2016 8:46 AM

Ameroc Export named Small Business Exporter of the Year

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • Sophia Fouzia Leaguedi of Ameroc Export, Inc. in Chicago

    Sophia Fouzia Leaguedi of Ameroc Export, Inc. in Chicago
    Joe Lewnard/Daily Herald File photo

 

Moroccan-born Sophia Leaguedi has had the entrepreneurial spirit since she was a child. When she moved to United States and settled in Los Angeles, that spirit came to life even though she didn't have much business experience. There, a variety of businesses, including a consulting firm, an automotive body repair franchise and a furniture import company, were launched under her leadership with varying degrees of challenges. Of them all, it was the furniture import company, Atlas Import, which she began in 2006 that laid the foundation for her success today.

When Atlas Import suffered a significant loss on damaged container of furniture, Leaguedi knew she had a lot more to learn about international trade, so she went back to school. With renewed energy and a refocused business model, she moved to Chicago and launched Ameroc Export, Inc. with a mission to help U.S. manufacturers and suppliers export their products around the world.

Using her homeland Morocco to fully grasp the export/import game, Leaguedi honed her skills to find similar opportunities in other countries that had signed Free Trade agreements with the U.S.

To overcome challenges to exporting, Leaguedi was resourceful, seeking the help of the Department of Commerce's United States Export Assistance Center as well as the Small Business Administration and International Trade Center. These organizations helped AEI increase its share of the overseas market with 12 other countries.

Working closely with these organizations, Leaguedi improved AEI's efficiency, identified potential issues and sales opportunities, and reduced risks via various export training courses.

In particular, Hongxia "Mary" Ma, ITC director at Governors State University and Jack Nevell were instrumental in helping her transform AEI. An SBA International Trade Loan facilitated the company's expansion.

Upon signing an exclusive distribution agreement with Mitco Industrial Tire Manufacturing in Tennessee and through a trade mission to Africa, AEI brought its sales to just under $1 million. To meet export demand, her customer, Mitco Tires, invested more than $2 million to expand its plant. In 2015, AEI began representing Warco Products, a Chicago-based manufacturer of automotive products, to customers in Africa and the Middle East. By helping foreign buyers meet American suppliers, AEI has facilitated complicated transactions exporting new and used capital-intensive equipment across international borders. Acting as the liaison, Leaguedi has helped suppliers and buyers overcome exporting challenges to expedite these transactions following agreed upon terms, putting everyone in a win-win situation.

With a proven track record showing U.S. companies how easy it is to export and showing international buyers how easy it is to find and negotiate the purchase of those products, Sophia has established herself as an industry expert. She continues to be driven by the entrepreneurial spirit that has led to AEI's success.